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In this email update:
Senate passes amendment to require public hearings before closing state prisons
Last week, the Senate passed an amendment in the budget package which would require the PA Department of Corrections to hold public hearings before they close state prisons. I was one of several senators that insisted on this item being included in the budget.
Ensuring that public hearings on potential state prison closures are held is critical because thousands of PA’s residents are employed at these facilities across the state and their voices, along with the community’s, should be heard and they have the right to participate in the decision-making process.
As you can remember, back in January, there was an announcement regarding the proposed closing of SCI Frackville. Upon hearing this news, many local residents reached out to Representatives Knowles, Goodman, Tobash and me to voice their concerns about the negative impact it would personally have on them. 5,670 local residents even signed a petition urging the governor and Secretary Wetzel to keep this facility open.
Fortunately, the Department of Corrections agreed with us that SCI Frackville is an efficiently-run facility that should be expanded – not eliminated. Following this decision to keep the facility open, we held meetings in Schuylkill County and at the State Capitol to discuss ways that we can further improve SCI Frackville so that we can avoid any potential closings in the future.
Representative Neal Goodman (D-Schuylkill) and I also highlighted the efforts that led to keeping SCI Frackville open earlier this year as part of “The Argall Report.” You can read more about this program here.
Construction on Leesport Avenue Bridge in Berks County
Beginning August 14 until late October of this year, construction will begin on the Leesport Avenue Bridge located at Route 1004 over the Willow Creek in Ontelaunee Township in Berks County.
Built in 1917, the 100-year old Leesport Avenue Bridge was deemed structurally inadequate for use.
This bridge is one of 558 bridges being replaced as part of PennDOT’s Rapid Bridge Replacement Project. Once the Leesport Avenue Bridge is completed, it will no longer be included on the list of structurally deficient bridges in Berks County.
While this bridge construction takes place, motorists will need to detour along Snyder Road, Route 61, Tuckerton Road and Allentown Pike. Should harsh weather conditions or unforeseen activities occur, the schedule for this project may be subject to changes.
The Rapid Bridge Replacement Project is a public-private partnership between PennDOT and Plenary Walsh Keystone Partners, whereby Plenary Walsh Keystone Partners will be responsible for financing, designing, replacing and maintaining the bridges included in this project for 25 years.
For more information about this project, please click here.
To learn more about the Rapid Bridge Replacement Project, please click here.
Applications now available for Small Business Advantage Grant
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is now accepting applications for the Small Business Advantage Grant.
The Small Business Advantage Grant provides the state’s small businesses with the opportunity to utilize waste reduction processes and purchase equipment that is energy efficient or prevents pollution.
In order to be eligible to apply for this grant, small businesses in Pennsylvania must have 100 or less full-time employees. The grant must also save the small business at least $500 and 25% annually in energy use or pollution prevention expenses.
For more information about the grant, please click here.
Fire safety event for kids
This Saturday, August 5, Smokey Bear will be visiting the Locust Lake State Park amphitheater for a fire safety event for kids at 6 p.m.
During this event, Fire Chief Dave Duffy from the New England Fire Company will provide a presentation on fire prevention and campfire safety.
The event is free-of-charge and open to the public. All children are required to be accompanied by an adult.
For more information about the event, please contact Robin Tracey at: 570-467-2506.
Smoke-free beaches at PA’s state parks
Visitors will find clean air billowing across the beach and the absence of cigarette butts soiling the sand at PA’s state parks according to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
DCNR announced that 39 of 54 swimming beaches and pools located in state parks are now smoke-free in response to park visitor feedback and agency goals for ensuring clean air and beaches.
Make your PA State Parks Reservations online. DCNR has made it simple to review the Rules and Regulations of PA’s State Parks to ensure a quality experience for all visitors. Included in the restriction are cigarettes, pipes, e-cigarettes or other handheld lighted smoking devices. Consult the State Park Advisories for a wide selection of helpful information for visitors. Download the free Official Guide for Pennsylvania State Parks and Forests to enrich your trip.
Staying safe in the summer heat
As we continue to enjoy our summer, it is important to remain diligent about staying safe in the summer heat.
The PA Department of Health recommends the following tips for staying safe and avoiding incidents from happening during heat waves: