In this Edition:
Helping Our Lehigh Valley Homeless Veterans
Throughout our country’s history, brave men and women have answered the call to serve in our armed forces when our nation needed them the most. Unfortunately, many of those who have served so courageously now find themselves without stable housing or are living on the street.
Changes to federal funding in 2017 resulted in a significant reduction of dedicated resources to address homeless veterans in the Lehigh Valley. As a result, many community organizations ceased their services and outreach programs to that vulnerable demographic.
Last week, we took significant steps to help combat this tragedy by announcing the creation of the Lehigh Valley Homeless Veteran Fund. Through the 2019-20 state budget, my office secured $200,000 to be used in this new initiative, which is the largest state commitment specifically targeted towards assisting homeless veterans in the Lehigh Valley.
The Lehigh Valley Homeless Veteran Fund was created to alleviate the funding gap. The fund is designed to provide funding assistance to existing agencies on a competitive award basis and is administered by the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation. The fund is designed to support existing programs and support new initiatives that ensure that “No Veteran is Left Behind.”
We are truly blessed to live in a community and a country where so many have and are willing to serve and protect us, our freedom and our way of life. Now, even though many will never ask for it, they need our help and assistance more than ever. It is our turn to answer their call.
For more information on the Lehigh Valley Homeless Veteran Fund and how you can help, visit: https://bit.ly/2tYH1z1
Support for Lynnport Fire Company and NOVA EMS
Our fire and EMS first responders are the foundation of Pennsylvania’s emergency response system. This largely volunteer force is the bedrock that ensures when an emergency occurs, someone will be there to answer the call when it is needed most.
Northern Valley EMS (North Whitehall Township) and Lynnport Community Fire Company (Lynn Township) have experienced the same challenges as many fire and ambulance companies have across Pennsylvania, including shrinking budgets and reduced volunteerism. These impediments have put a strain on their already limited resources, with many companies putting off capital improvements to facilities and vehicles.
Understanding these difficulties, my office secured two separate $95,000 grants, one for Northern Valley Emergency Medical Services, (NOVA) and the other for Lynnport Community Fire Company #1.
NOVA will use awarded funds for desperately needed improvements and repairs to their main building, which was built in 1979. Improvements include: replacement of the air conditioning system, windows and garage doors. Exterior stucco repair and the installation of an awning over the business office entrance are also in the improvement plan.
Lynnport Community Fire Company will utilize the awarded funds to completely replace the firehouse’s roof. The current roof was installed over 40 years ago and is in dire need of repair.
We need to do everything in our power to help our local first responders. It was a pleasure to be able to play a small role in supporting their mission.
For more information on Northern Valley EMS and Lynnport Fire Company and their missions, visit their websites:
Allegiant Airlines Expands at LVIA
(Senator Browne -center- joins local officials to cut the ribbon on the new Allegiant Base at the Lehigh Valley International Airport)
The Allegiant Airlines base at Lehigh Valley International Airport (LVIA) is officially open! Allegiant brings two permanently-stationed planes, 60-plus new jobs and over $50 million in investment to the airport.
The base will allow Allegiant to offer exciting flights to new destinations, along with more flights on existing routes. Additional routes will be announced in the near future.
This is a big win for our region and it was a pleasure to work with LVIA and the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation to make this happen.
Lehigh Valley Live’s coverage of this exciting event is available HERE
School Bus Pilot Program Shows Shocking Results
The Allentown School District and Bus Patrol (a leader in the school bus technology industry) recently announced the shocking results of their School Bus Stop Arm Pilot Program. During a span of 47 schools days, over 205 violations were captured by only two busses. That’s 2.18 violations per day per bus! This is an astoundingly high rate of individuals violating the law and putting students in danger.
I worked with my colleagues in the Senate and House of Representatives to pass Act 159 of 2018, which authorized the placement of Stop Arm Cameras on school buses. The Pilot Program’s results show that this technology works and is highly effective in accurately capturing violations. Bus Patrol reports that nationwide 98% of individuals who receive a ticket for running a School Bus Stop Arm never receive a second violation. Meaning, the best way we can solve this crisis is by enforcing the law.
Remember, by the time a stop arm is deployed, the bus has already being flashing its yellow warning lights for several seconds. Additionally, motorists need to keep in mind that when they see the yellow flashing lights, and subsequent red school bus stop arm extended, they need to stop. Together, we can help to create a safer environment for students.
Here is the reporting from our local news outlets on the pilot program’s findings:
The Morning Call: https://bit.ly/31dSFC9
Lehigh Valley Live: https://bit.ly/31bncAu
Tour of Kiddie City Early Learning Center
I had a great time reading to the Pre-K class at Kiddie City Early Learning Center in Allentown. Pre-K Centers, like Kiddie City, are providing a high quality learning and care environment to the communities they serve.
These early learning programs have a proven track record of helping prevent at-risk young people from falling behind or dropping out of school. In the long-term, young people who receive early learning assistance are more likely to become productive members of our community.
As Co-Chair of the Early Child Education Caucus in PA Legislature, I am a proud supporter of Pre-K Counts and ensuring that all of the Commonwealth’s children have access to quality early childhood education.
PA Continues to Lead in Farmland Preservation
The PA farm preservation program reports Calendar Year 2019 saw the highest number of farms preserved in a decade. In December, Pennsylvania’s Agricultural Land Preservation Board announced the safeguarding of an additional 2,450 acres on 29 farms in 16 counties through the Pennsylvania Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Program (ACEPP). This nation-leading preservation program slows the loss of prime farmland to non-agricultural uses.
According to the state board, in partnership with county boards, a total of 210 farms, representing 17,817 acres of land, were preserved in 2019. Since the program began in 1988, federal, state, county and local governments have purchased permanent easements on 5,636 farms totaling 577,092 acres in 59 counties for agricultural production.
Farms across the Commonwealth are diversifying the use of their preserved land through such activities as agritourism. Agritourism includes recreational services such as farm or wine tours, hayrides, and more. The Senate passed Senate Bill 583 unanimously in May to ensure that agritourism activities are considered as part of the agriculture authorized on farms preserved under the program. The legislation would create uniformity across the Commonwealth, allowing farmers, regardless of their location, to take advantage of the growing popularity of agritourism.
Transportation roundabouts, a circular intersection in which road traffic is permitted to flow in one direction around a central island, have been successful in preventing injuries and saving lives, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).
Examining Pennsylvania’s first modern roundabouts, PennDOT found a large reduction in minor and moderate-injury crashes. At the same time, major-injury crashes and fatalities were eliminated where roundabouts replaced traffic signals and stop signs.
Senate Budget Hearings Began This Week
The Senate Appropriations Committee has begun its three weeks of Budget Hearings this week. This open and transparent process is designed to thoroughly vet the Governor’s 2020-21 budget proposal and provide public accountability for previous year’s expenditures. The current schedule is as follows:
You can watch or read summaries of each hearing by visiting my website: www.SenatorBrowne.com
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