Senator Dush E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Open House for New Bellefonte District Office on Feb. 17
  • New Law Targets Growing Number of Fentanyl Overdose Deaths
  • Feb. 15 Webinar Focuses on Applying for Resources to Address Substance Abuse Crisis
  • North Central PA Regional Planning & Development Commission Receives $240,000 Grant
  • Grants Awarded to 25th Senatorial District Fire/EMS Companies
  • McKean County’s Mount Jewett to Kinzua Bridge Trail Named 2023 PA Trial of the Year
  • You Can Provide Input on Traffic Safety with Online Survey
  • National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Grant Program Application Process Postponed
  • Help Available to Boost Security at Nonprofits and Religious Institutions
  • Extra SNAP Payments Set to End
  • Veteran Discounts are Available All Year
  • Congratulations to 2022 Elk County Fair Queen Emily Peluso
  • 2023 Adult Trout Stocking Schedule Available

Open House for New Bellefonte District Office on Feb. 17

I will be holding an open house for my new Bellefonte district office on Friday, Feb. 17 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The office is located at 301 North Spring Street, Bellefonte, PA 16823. The office phone number is (814) 355-0477 and the office Fax number is (814) 355-6046.

So, if you have some time on Feb. 17, I’d love to meet you at the Bellefonte office.

New Law Targets Growing Number of Fentanyl Overdose Deaths

Fentanyl-laced heroin and counterfeit pills are killing an increasing number of Pennsylvanians. Legislation enacted by the General Assembly is now in effect to prevent overdose deaths by legalizing fentanyl test strips for personal use.

Effective Jan. 1, Act 111 of 2022 amended the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act of 1972 to no longer define fentanyl test strips (FTS) as drug paraphernalia in Pennsylvania, making them a legal, low-cost method to prevent drug overdoses.

The Pennsylvania departments of Drug and Alcohol Programs, Health, and Human Services, along with the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, created a survey for substance use disorder stakeholders to gauge demand for FTS while work is underway to make them available across the commonwealth. The survey contains questions on currently available trainings and materials, preferred brands and current distribution methods.

Feb. 15 Webinar Focuses on Applying for Resources to Address Substance Abuse Crisis

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) will be holding a virtual workshop on Wednesday, Feb. 15 to allow participants to learn more about ARC’s Investments Supporting Partnerships in Recovery Ecosystems (INSPIRE) Initiative.

The INSPIRE Initiative is focused on addressing the substance use disorder (SUD) crisis across Appalachia by creating or expanding a recovery ecosystem that will lead to workforce entry or re-entry. In September 2022, ARC awarded $12 million to 33 projects across the region.

Successful projects seek to support the post-treatment to employment continuum, which could include investments in healthcare networks that support SUD recovery professionals, recovery-focused job training programs, as well as initiatives designed to coordinate, or link, recovery services and training that support the recovery to work ecosystem, among others.

The Feb. 15 webinar, from 10 a.m. to noon, will provide applicants the opportunity to better understand the INSPIRE Initiative and what makes a well-rounded application, hear an overview of the key points in the current Request for Proposals, ask questions during an interactive Q&A session and engage with and learn from other organizations playing a role in recovery ecosystems throughout the region.

You can get more information about the webinar and register for the event here.

North Central PA Regional Planning and Development Commission Receives $240,000 Grant

The North Central PA Regional Planning and Development Commission was recently selected to receive a $240,000 federal grant to develop a Regional Corridor Safety Action Plan.

That funding is part of a total $800 million awarded nationwide to 510 projects through the federal Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) Grant Program. The goal of the competitive grant program is to prevent deaths and serious injuries on the nation’s roadways.

This investment comes as traffic fatalities have been very high since the lockdowns imposed during the pandemic – with less traffic, speeds increased, as did reckless and impaired driving, leading to a record spike in deaths, according to transportation authorities. A recent report illustrated the economic impact of traffic crashes was $340 billion in 2019 alone.

And while the number of traffic deaths on U.S. roadways fell slightly during the first nine months of 2022, things got worse on rural roadways and pedestrian and cyclist deaths continued to rise. Last month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that compared to the first half of 2021, 2022 fatalities increased 12% on rural interstates, 10% in crashes involving at least one large truck, 8% among cyclists, 5% among motorcyclists and 2% among pedestrians.

Grants Awarded to 25th Senatorial District Fire/EMS Companies

Seventy-eight fire companies and emergency medical service (EMS) providers within the 25th Senatorial District received grants totaling nearly $1 million through Pennsylvania’s Fire Company and Emergency Medical Service Grant Program (FCEMSGP). A full list of the 25th District’s grant recipients can be found here.

The FCEMSGP is administered by the Office of State Fire Commissioner and makes annual grants available for volunteer and career fire companies, emergency medical services and rescue squads.

Eligible projects in accordance with the 2022-23 FCEMSGP include facility upgrades, equipment, debt reduction, training and certification, education and public outreach, and recruitment and retention efforts.  Additionally, fire companies were permitted to apply for constructions savings accounts for the purposes of new facility construction. 

All fire companies, emergency medical service and volunteer rescue squads are eligible to apply for this annual grant program.

McKean County’s Mount Jewett to Kinzua Bridge Trail Named 2023 PA Trial of the Year

Congratulations go out to everyone involved with the Mount Jewett to Kinzua Bridge Trail, which was recently named the 2023 Pennsylvania Trail of the Year.

The 7.8-mile McKean County trail is a section of the larger Knox & Kane Rail Trail, a converted rail line used for walking, jogging, biking and horseback riding.

The MJ2KB Trail Club, the award recipient, works in partnership with the Knox & Kane Rail Trail and Kinzua Bridge State Park. As a former Park Ranger at Kinzua Bridge, before the bridge was destroyed, I am impressed with the work the club has done in partnership with the park that has resulted in much increased tourism as well as increased visits by our local community.  They have earned the reward.

The State Park uses MJ2KB’s section of trail for nature walks and naturalist events throughout the year. The trail highlights the environmental and historical aspects of the area in a series of interpretive signs placed along the 7.8 miles. The trail offers amenities, such as pavilions, focused artwork, railroad trestles and dining options within close proximity of the rail trail.

The MJ2KB trail is so important to the community, which has used the trail for events like Senior citizen rides, special hikes, bike races and marathons.

The Pennsylvania Trails Advisory Committee designates the Trail of the Year to help build enthusiasm and support for trails across the state, and to raise public awareness about the value of the Pennsylvania’s land and water trail network.  Pennsylvania is home to more than 12,000 miles of trails, and the state’s goal is to have a trail within 10 minutes of all Pennsylvanians.

For more information about Pennsylvania’s trails, see ExplorePaTrails.

You Can Provide Input on Traffic Safety with Online Survey

Motorists have until Feb. 28 to provide input on traffic safety and driving behaviors through an online survey by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).

In 2021, 1,230 people died on Pennsylvania roadways. Many of these deaths could have been prevented by safer driving. PennDOT works with educational and enforcement grantees to deliver programming each year to help prevent crashes, fatalities and injuries on our roadways. This survey seeks information on motorists’ behavior behind the wheel to help inform program planning.

The voluntary questionnaire covers several topics including seat belt use, impaired driving, speeding and distracted driving, as well as bicycle, pedestrian and motorcycle safety. It should take about five minutes to complete and all responses are completely anonymous. You can find information on safe driving here.

National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Grant Program Application Process Postponed

Recently, the Mission Report mentioned applications would be accepted by the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Grant Program starting on Feb. 24.

The state Department of Transportation recently provided notice that it is postponing the application period until the release of the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) final rulemaking, which will establish regulations setting minimums standards and requirements for projects funded under the NEVI Formula Program. 

PennDOT said it will announce the updated application period within seven business days of the release of FHWA’s Final Rulemaking.

Help Available to Boost Security at Nonprofits and Religious Institutions

Applications are being accepted for state Nonprofit Security Grants for nonprofit organizations and religious institutions.

Administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, the program provides grants to nonprofit organizations that principally serve individuals, groups or institutions that are included within a bias motivation category for single bias hate crime incidents as identified by the FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics publication.

Grant awards can range from $5,000 to $150,000 for a wide variety of eligible items, including:
• Safety and security planning and training.
• Purchase of safety and security equipment and technology.
• Upgrades to existing structures that enhance safety and security.
• Vulnerability and threat assessments.

The application period closes March 2.

Extra SNAP Payments Set to End

During the COVID-19 emergency, the federal government allowed states to issue additional SNAP food assistance payments that increased the maximum available for households by at least $95 each month.

These extra payments will be ending after February and SNAP recipients will only receive one regular SNAP payment starting in March.

If you or someone you know needs help, there are food assistance programs available in your community. Visit the Department of Human Services or Department of Agriculture for information on food assistance programs and where to find local resources. Additionally, if recipients currently have extra funds on their cards, they will still be available. SNAP benefits only expire if cards are not used for nine months.

To ensure households are receiving the maximum SNAP benefit based on their individual circumstances, Pennsylvanians are encouraged to report changes to their household size, income or expenses online at via the myCOMPASS PA mobile app or by calling 877-395-8930.

Veteran Discounts are Available All Year

Some businesses offer discounted prices for military service members and veterans on special days, but many others feature them all year.

A list of veteran discounts offered year-round by national businesses is maintained by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Check local businesses for their participation.

It’s a small way to show appreciation for the men and women who served our country, as well as the families they support.

Congratulations to 2022 Elk County Fair Queen Emily Peluso

Emily Peluso, the 2022 Elk County Fair Queen, recently was in Hershey, PA, to compete with 58 other fair queens for the title of 2023 Pennsylvania Fair Queen.

Emily said being the 2022 Elk County Fair Queen is an amazing experience that has given her the opportunity to meet fair queens from all over the state. She said she made friends who share similar experiences and who understand what it means to represent their fair.

Said Emily about her trip in Hershey: “I learned so much from my time at the convention. I loved being able to represent my tiny fair at such a huge event. I was one of the 58 girls in the 3 million in Pennsylvania to be able to have this, and I’m so lucky I do.”

We’re all proud of you Emily and wish you all the best in the future!

2023 Adult Trout Stocking Schedule Available

​The 2023 adult trout stocking schedule is now available. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission will stock approximately 3.2 million adult trout in 697 streams and 126 lakes open to public angling.  

The trout stocking schedule is searchable by county, lists the waterways in alphabetical order, and indicates stocking dates, meeting locations for volunteers, and the species of trout that are planned to be stocked at each location. Pennsylvania’s statewide Opening Day of Trout Season is April 1. A single, statewide Mentored Youth Trout Day will take place March 25.

Trout to be stocked will include approximately 2.3 million Rainbow Trout, 707,000 Brown Trout and 168,000 Brook Trout. As with past practice, the average size of the trout produced for stocking is 11 inches in length with an average weight of .58 pounds.


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