In this Update:
Armstrong, Indiana County Projects Receive DCNR Funding
Three Armstrong County projects and two Indiana County projects received a total of $1,192,800 in funding as part of a $90 million effort to assist more than 330 projects across Pennsylvania focused on creating new recreational opportunities, conserving natural resources and helping revitalize local communities.
The lion’s share of the overall funding – $710,000 – is for the design of the Kiski Bridge rehabilitation project.
Built in 1899 to span the Kiski River in Gilpin Township, Armstrong County, the bridge and 14 miles of the former Kiski Junction Railroad are being developed into a trail, maintained by Armstrong Trails. They will connect 130-plus miles of continuous, off-road, ADAcompliant trails in Armstrong, Allegheny, Butler, Clarion and Westmoreland counties. It also will connect to other trails, including the Erie to Pittsburgh Trail.
Outdoor recreation and trails have provided a major spark to the economies of many communities throughout Pennsylvania. The bridge and trail connections this project will create will help to attract more tourism and important economic activity to the small towns along the Kiski and Allegheny rivers, such as Freeport, Leechburg, Gilpin, Ford City and Kittanning.
Another $71,500 in funding will be used for the rehabilitation of Gilpin Leechburg Park, Gilpin Township. The work will include construction of a pedestrian walkway, basketball courts, tennis courts, pickleball courts and parking area; installation of fencing; ADA access, landscaping, project sign and other related site improvements.
South Buffalo Township, Armstrong County, will receive $70,000 for the rehabilitation of the township’s Northpointe Park, with the work to include construction of a pedestrian walkway and parking area; installation of play equipment with required safety surfacing; ADA access, landscaping, project sign and other related site improvements.
In Indiana County, $250,000 will be used to support the rehabilitation of the existing Westmoreland Heritage Trail, which stretches from the West Penn Trail in Saltsburg Borough through Loyalhanna Township, Westmoreland County, to the Rangos Trailhead in Salem Township, Westmoreland County.
And the Indiana County Conservation District (ICCD) will use a $91,300 grant for the development of Canopy Walk in White Township. When completed, the Canopy Walk will enable the district to provide everyone, regardless of circumstance, access to the outdoors, while educating our visitors about the importance of conserving natural resources.
With the increased number of people who have taken to the outdoors for recreation because of the pandemic, these grants serve as true investments in our communities. They help attract to our area outdoor enthusiasts who are frequently looking for a new challenge, who in turn tell their friends, which translates into increased benefits for local tourism.
The grants are administered by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Community Conservation Partnerships Program. Funding comes from the Keystone Fund, which is generated from a portion of Pennsylvania’s realty transfer tax; the Environmental Stewardship Fund; the ATV/Snowmobile Fund generated through fees for licenses; and federal monies.
Eggs & Issues with Indiana County Chamber of Commerce
Thank you to Indiana County Chamber of Commerce and Chamber President Mark Hilliard for hosting another great Eggs & Issues event last week.
I appreciated the opportunity to join my friend and colleague, state Rep. Jim Struzzi, and engage with all who attended.
September is National Preparedness Month
September is National Preparedness Month, which serves as a reminder to take steps to prepare for emergencies and ensure that our homes, businesses and possessions are adequately insured.
September is also when Pennsylvania experiences a higher risk of flooding due to hurricane and tropical storm activity in the Northeast this time of year. The state Insurance Department encourages property owners to consider purchasing flood insurance.
Simple, low- or no-cost steps you can take now to prepare for emergencies include:
The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency can help you prepare for emergencies through Ready, Set, and Check! It includes an informative card that will help you with simple, yet important, steps to get started and track your progress.
Assistance Available for Fire & EMS Companies to Help with Costs
First responders have until Oct. 21 to apply for assistance through the state Fire Company and Emergency Medical Service Grant Program.
It helps fire and EMS cover the rising costs of training, equipment, recruitment, retention and more.
The financial challenges facing first responders are especially serious for volunteer companies. Each new generation sees fewer volunteers, increasing the workload on those willing to step up. This grant program is one of the most important that the General Assembly funds each year and I hope it provides some relief to our local first responders.
You can Help Track PA Cases of Rabbit Disease
The Pennsylvania Game Commission is asking the public to report any rabbit mortality events – defined as finding two or more dead hares/rabbits at the same location with an unknown cause of death – by calling 1-833-PGC-WILD or by using the online Wildlife Health Survey reporting tool at www.pgcapps.pa.gov/WHS.
This comes after two cases of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD), which can cause internal bleeding and sudden death in rabbits, were identified in a Fayette County facility. The disease is considered an endemic in wild rabbits in 11 states and has been detected in domestic populations in 13 states.
Domestic rabbit owners who have questions about this disease should contact their veterinarians, who in turn should immediately report suspected cases of RHD to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Animal Health.
RHD is not infectious to people or domestic animals other than hares or rabbits. However, multiple dead or sick hares or rabbits can also be a sign of tularemia or plague, diseases that can cause serious illness in people. You can find more information on RHD here.
Virtual Town Hall to Focus on Transportation Issues Veterans Face
The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs will host the fourth in a five-part series of virtual Veteran Town Halls on Wednesday, Sept. 14, from 6-7:30 p.m. The town hall will focus on resources to assist veterans facing transportation issues.
Attendees can participate by using this Microsoft Teams link. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions during the program through the chat feature.
Older veterans and those with a disability often have problems accessing health care because of not having proper transportation available to them. The town hall will outline community resources ready to provide veterans with transportation to and from the federal VA and other health care providers.
Municipalities Can Apply Now for Grants to Improve Traffic Flow
A new grant program created by the General Assembly this year to reduce traffic congestion is now accepting applications from municipalities.
The Traffic Signal Technologies Grant program is unique in that it is intended only for new technologies at existing traffic signals, including adaptive signal control technology, which adjusts the timing of lights to accommodate changing traffic patterns and ease congestion.
No local matching funds are required. A pre-application form must be completed by Sept. 23.