Senator Pittman E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Improving Financial Literacy
  • School Safety Grants Awarded
  • Events in Jefferson County
  • $14 Million in Funding for Area Water System Improvements
  • Secondary Road Maintenance Project Begins in May in Armstrong County
  • Welcoming Purchase Line Students to the Senate
  • Training PA’s Workforce for Available Positions
  • Increasing the Number of Firefighters in Pennsylvania
  • Spring Gobbler Season Begins April 27
  • April is National Donate Life Month

Improving Financial Literacy

Every student in PA will take a financial literacy class prior to graduation because of legislation signed into law in December, which was spearheaded by Senate Republicans and my colleague Senator Chris Gebhard. April is Financial Literacy Month and a great time to bring awareness to this new initiative which received bi-partisan support and will help to prepare young adults to make smart decisions with their daily purchases and long-term financial planning.

I appreciated the opportunity to sit down with Senator Gebhard recently to talk about providing high school students with tools to prepare them for their futures. We continue to be focused on addressing real issues for people across the commonwealth and providing children with the opportunities they need to succeed later in life. You can watch our video update on financial literacy here.  

School Safety Grants Awarded

More than $150 million in School Safety Grants have been approved this week for students across the commonwealth. Pennsylvania’s School Safety & Security Grant Program was originally established in 2018, providing for school entities to be safer places for students, staff and visitors. Most recently through Act 33 of 2023, changes were made to strengthen and expand the program, which is overseen by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, School Safety and Security Committee.

Meritorious Grants ranging from $30,000 to $45,000 were awarded to each of the 497 applicants from all 67 counties that applied. The award amount is based on the school size. Funding can be used to address safety and security through security assessments, violence prevention and all-hazards plans.

Mental Health Grants ranging from $70,000 to $100,000 were awarded to each of the 719 applicants from all 67 counties that applied. These applicants included school districts, area career and technical schools, intermediate units, charter schools, regional charter schools and cyber charter schools. School districts received a base of $100,000 plus a formula amount depending on their school size. The intermediate unit, area career and technical school, charter school, regional charter school or cyber charter school applicants each received $70,000. The funding can be used for school mental health services, training and programs for students and staff.

Additionally, grants were approved through the Competitive School Safety and Security Grant Funding, and Targeted School Safety and Security Grant Programs. Learn more.

Events in Jefferson County

It was great to spend the day in Jefferson County on Monday, making several stops in and around Punxsutawney. I appreciated the invitation to start off the day by speaking at the Punxsutawney Chamber of Commerce Breakfast. Following the Chamber event, I had the opportunity to tour the area’s newest business, Windward Furniture. Windward is a family-owned business which started in Florida more than 30 years ago handcrafting outdoor furniture. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held earlier this month where Windward announced some very exciting plans to employ 60 people once they are fully operational. My thanks to Chief Information Officer Rachel Peace for the hospitality during the tour – welcome to Pennsylvania!

Monday afternoon it was a pleasure to meet with Punxsutawney Mayor, Richard Alexander, who presented me with a proclamation designating April 22, 2024, as ‘Joe Pittman Day’ in the Borough. This was a tremendous surprise, and I am deeply humbled and greatly honored by this declaration! Lastly, I ended the day discussing education issues with Rep. Brian Smith and members of the Punxsutawney School Board.

Thank you to everyone for the thoughtful and engaging dialogue about issues affecting our community.

$14 Million in Funding for Area Water System Improvements

More than $14 million in state funding has been approved to allow the Indiana County Municipal Services Authority to complete numerous upgrades to its Heilwood, Cherry Tree and Crooked Creek drinking water systems.

This substantial funding will go a long way in helping to improve local water systems by providing new water service and emergency interconnections with neighboring systems. Access to clean drinking water is fundamental for healthy, thriving communities. I’m pleased to have worked alongside local and state leaders to ensure the Indiana County Municipal Services Authority will be able to make needed advancements.

The funding includes an $8.65 million grant that does not have to be repaid, as well as a $5.36 million low-interest loan. The grant and low-interest loan will be used to support six projects.

In the first project, approximately 25,900 feet of new water line will be installed along Route 403 in Buffington and Pine townships. The new water line will provide service to numerous homes experiencing contamination from on-lot wells. Additionally, an above-ground metering station will be constructed to facilitate an emergency interconnection with the adjacent Highridge Water Authority, formerly Lower Indiana County Municipal Authority.

The second project also involves the Heilwood system and consists of a new water line being extended from the Pine Township, Indiana County line along Route 422 to Iverson Road in Blacklick Township, Cambria County. This area of Blacklick Township is currently served by on-lot wells. Providing new public drinking water service will result in improved water quality and quantity.

The third project will include an extension of the Heilwood system along School Road in Cherryhill Township. Approximately 11,000 feet of new water line will be installed, providing new public water service to numerous residents with contaminated on-lot wells.

A fourth project will encompass a new water line extension of approximately 38,000 feet between the unincorporated villages of Penns Manor and Uniontown in the townships of Green and Cherryhill. The extension will interconnect with the existing Cherry Tree water system at a new above-ground metering station.

Within the Crooked Creek water system, a fifth project will include construction of a prefabricated, above-grade booster station at a location formerly used for an emergency interconnection with the Pennsylvania-American Water Company. New telemetry systems and connection for a mobile emergency generator will be installed.

The final project includes replacements of two-inch and six-inch pressure-reducing valves within part of the Crooked Creek water system serving Ernest Borough. New valves will ensure continued service to customers. Across all projects, approximately 45 fire hydrants and 177 meter pits for new customer taps will be installed.

The funding was approved on April 24 by the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority, an independent state agency providing financial assistance to fund construction of drinking water, sewer and stormwater projects. Upon project completion, several communities will benefit from increased availability of potable water, extensive water conservation, and improved aesthetic water quality.

Secondary Road Maintenance Project Begins in May in Armstrong County

Secondary road maintenance, including repairs and paving, in Burrell, Kittanning, Manor, Plum Creek, South Bend and Bethel Townships in Armstrong County will begin in May and continue through the end of August.

This is the continuation of a two-year, $10 million investment in the secondary road infrastructure of Armstrong County. I was pleased to advocate for this support because residents of rural communities deserve a robust infrastructure, and we’ve taken a great step in that direction. My hope is for these investments to continue in the years ahead to bring all roads throughout the district to a higher standard.

The State Routes include 37.7 miles in Burrell, Kittanning, Manor, Plum Creek, South Bend and Bethel Townships as follows:

  • 08 miles on Route 2015
  • 07 miles on Route 2020
  • 64 miles on Route 2021
  • 07 miles on Route 2025
  • 36 miles on Route 2026
  • 20 miles on Route 2027
  • 28 miles on Route 2028

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) will provide additional information proceeding the start of each project to alert motorists to any potential traffic delays.

Welcoming Purchase Line Students to the Senate

I had the distinct honor and privilege of introducing a group of high school students from Purchase Line School District during a recent session day. The students were accompanied by teachers Ms. Kate Cowden and Mrs. Melinda Knapp.

I am a proud Purchase Line alumnus, and it was a great honor to welcome this group to the Pennsylvania Senate.

Training PA’s Workforce for Available Positions

Complementing Senate Republicans’ efforts to protect Pennsylvania jobs, support is available for community colleges, trade or tech schools, school districts and nonprofits through the Manufacturing PA Training-to-Career Grant Program.

The program is designed to help companies identify and train a skilled workforce for existing positions or ones that will be open soon. It is also designed to advance capacity for local and regional manufacturers and increase awareness of manufacturing career opportunities for youth or those with barriers.

Grants may be used for professional services/consultants, internships, equipment purchases, shop modifications, program development, marketing, domestic travel and salaries. Learn more and apply online.

Increasing the Number of Firefighters in Pennsylvania

The Senate approved a bill aimed at increasing the number of volunteer firefighters in Pennsylvania by reforming the certification process without sacrificing quality or safety.

Current firefighter applicants must complete four training modules totaling 188 hours. They then must pass a cumulative test covering all four modules. Senate Bill 1101 would enable applicants to be tested following each of the four modules.

In the 1970s, the commonwealth had as many as 300,000 volunteer firefighters. There currently are fewer than 38,000 volunteer firefighters in Pennsylvania.

Spring Gobbler Season Begins April 27

On Saturday, April 27, spring gobbler season opens with a half-day hunt for junior hunters and mentored hunters 16 and under. All participants must be accompanied by adults, and hunting hours run from 30 minutes before sunrise until noon.

The regular season runs from May 4-31. Hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise until noon from May 4-18 and 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset from May 20-31.

Approximately 172,000 people hunt spring turkeys in Pennsylvania every year. Last season, hunters harvested about 39,500 gobblers – an increase from 35,700 in 2022 and 28,100 in 2021. Information about spring turkey hunting rules and regulations, for youth and regular hunts, is available here.

April is National Donate Life Month

Making a difference in the lives of others might be easier than you think. With nearly 7,000 Pennsylvanians awaiting organ transplants, donors can save up to eight lives. People donating tissue can enhance the lives of 75 others by helping them recover from trauma, spinal injuries, burns and vision loss.

If you aren’t an organ or tissue donor yet but would like to be, there’s no need to wait until you get or renew your driver’s license, learner’s permit or photo ID. It’s easy to register online to donate.

Misconceptions about organ and tissue donation can discourage people from taking the important step to save lives. Find myths and facts here.


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