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Armstrong County Receives $750,000 Grant for Ford City Water Project
We received some good news this week as Armstrong County was awarded a $750,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program grant to support Ford City’s major water system project, which includes construction of a new water treatment plant and rehabilitation of a water storage tank that will allow for 720,000 gallons-per-day of treatment.
I was pleased to support Armstrong County’s application for CDBG funding to further support Ford City as it moves forward with this project. Representative Jeff Pyle and I have been strong advocates for the infrastructure needs of Ford City as evidenced by the previous commitments of state funds to move these necessary infrastructure improvements forward.
The state has stepped up several times to provide financial support for this major project, which carries considerable costs. This grant, coupled with the previous state financing, is enabling Ford City to make essential upgrades to its water system without placing a significant financial burden on ratepayers.
The CDBG money is the latest in a series of state funds awarded to Ford City for the water project and other infrastructure improvements. Last year, the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST) approved a $3,196,800 low-interest loan (1 percent interest for 20 years) for the project. As a member of PENNVEST Board, I strongly supported Ford City’s application when it came before the panel for consideration.
In 2010, I worked with Representative Pyle to secure a $467,000 Safe Drinking Water Grant for Ford City’s water project. The borough also received $662,172 in H2O PA program funding in July 2009.
Updating Local Business on the Governor’s Proposed Budget
I was pleased to join with Jim Struzzi, President of the Indiana County Chamber of Commerce, State Representative Cris Dush and House Majority Leader Dave Reed at a February luncheon with small business owners co-hosted by the National Federation of Independent Business and the Indiana County Chamber of Commerce. The topic of the meeting was the impact of Governor Wolf’s proposed 2016-17 budget on the business community.
Applications Available Now for Alternative Fuels Incentive Grants
Businesses, school districts, municipalities and non-profits can apply now for grants to support the purchase and use of alternative fuel vehicles and technology.
The Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant (AFIG) program helps offset the cost of implementing alternative fuel transportation projects, including covering a portion of the cost to purchase alternative fuel vehicles, retrofit existing vehicles to operate on alternative fuels, assist in the purchase of refueling equipment, and support research, training and development of alternative fuel vehicles and technology.
The AFIG program is administered by the state Department of Environmental Protection. Applications and additional details on the program are available online at www.dep.pa.gov.
The application period for the grant program will remain open throughout the year. A total of $7 million in grants will be available during the 2016 calendar year.
Recognizing Local Photographers
I was pleased to host Christine Chemelli, Patti Stoudt, Brogan Myers, Alexis McConnell and Nicole Stewart during a luncheon on March 1 to recognize them as winners of my 2015 41st Senatorial District Photo Contest. Two winners were selected from photos representing all four seasons in the 41 st Senatorial District. The other winners were Frederick Doerfler, Michael Markilinski and Randy Rosenberger.
The winning entries are prominently featured in the large display window of my Indiana District Office at 618 Philadelphia Street. A total of 95 entries were submitted and all of the photos can be seen at http://www.senatordonwhite.com/photo-contest/.
Municipalities to See 16 Percent Increase in Liquid Fuels Payments
I am pleased to report that local municipalities will be receiving an increase in state funding for maintenance of their roads and bridges.
Pennsylvania’s transportation plan, Act 89 of 2013, will allow PENNDOT to distribute nearly $445.3 million in liquid fuels payments to certified municipalities on March 1 to help them maintain their roads and bridges. That is a $64 million, or 16 percent, increase over the $381 million distributed in 2015. In 2013, before Act 89 was enacted, municipalities received $320.8 million in liquid fuels payments.
Liquid fuels allocations are annual payments to municipalities to help pay for highway and bridge-related expenses such as snow removal and road repaving. The complete list of local payments is available on the “Municipal Liquid Fuels Program” page at www.penndot.gov under the “Doing Business” Local Government page.
Hearing Will Review Rising Long-Term Care Insurance Rates
As Chairman of the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee, I would like to inform you that the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance will hold a public hearing on long-term care insurance and issues that surround the marketplace on March 10 in Harrisburg. The hearing will focus on several rate increase requests and the Insurance Department’s review process.
The hearing will take place from 9 - 11:30 a.m. in the Rachel Carson State Office Building, 400 Market Street, Harrisburg.
The Department is currently reviewing rate increase proposals from:
The Department is planning to hold additional hearings at locations around the state. A list of the sites, which are still being finalized, is on the Insurance Department website, www.insurance.pa.gov. Anyone wanting to testify at any of these sites or in Harrisburg should register at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Federal Regulation Changes Affect Commercial Driver Licenses
As a result of new federal regulations, Pennsylvania enacted a state law last year that sets new requirements for holders of Commercial Driver Licenses (CDL). Act 49 of 2015 made several changes to the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code regarding CDLs that were required for the Commonwealth to comply with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules.
Most notably all new CDL applicants and current license holders who are renewing or making any changes to their CDL must do so in person one time to meet citizenship and residency requirements set by the federal regulations.
License holders are now required to show citizenship by presenting a birth certificate, passport, naturalization documents or current immigration documents. Residency can be established through: tax records, lease agreements, mortgage documents, a W-2 Form, current weapons permit, current utility bills, a letter from the Department of Transportation, or current Pennsylvania driver’s license.
After meeting the proof of residency and citizenship requirements one time in person, subsequent CDL applications may be submitted through the mail.
More information on the changes to CDL requirements is available by clicking on Driver Licensing at www.dmv.pa.gov, then clicking on the Commercial Driver tab, then the Act 49 CDL Changes/New CDL Skills Testing tab.
Volunteers Needed for Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania Departments of Transportation (PENNDOT) and Environmental Protection (DEP) are seeking volunteers for this year’s Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania, which runs from now through May 31.
The cleanup is sponsored each year by PENNDOT, DEP, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful and other partners. More than 6 million pounds of litter was collected from Pennsylvania’s roads, trails and shorelines by more than 128,000 volunteers during last year’s Great American Cleanup.
A listing of cleanup events, resources for organizing a cleanup, and other
information about the effort are available online at
www.gacofpa.org. Groups interested in adopting a section of highway are
encouraged to contact their local PENNDOT County Maintenance office and or visit
www.penndot.gov under “About us.” Groups interested in adopting a locally
maintained road, contact Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful,
www.keeppabeautiful.org under “Keep It.”
286 Main Capitol