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State Offers Safe Holiday Party Hosting Tips

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​Lancaster – Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman, Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) Chairman Tim Holden, and PLCB Member Michael Newsome today offered tips on safely hosting parties and reminded Pennsylvanians of potential liability if a guest has an alcohol-related incident, even after leaving the party.

“The holiday season is a time for celebrating with family, friends, and coworkers. As people make plans to get together, we strongly encourage them to take common-sense precautions and promote responsible alcohol consumption,” said PLCB Chairman Holden at an event at the Fine Wine & Good Spirits Premium Collection located in the Shoppes at Belmont in Lancaster. “Not only is Fine Wine & Good Spirits your go-to place for wine, spirits, and holiday gifts, but we have also partnered with the Insurance Department to develop a resource offering valuable tips for responsibly hosting safe parties, ensuring everyone gets home safely, and taking steps to avoid liability.”

This week, a two-sided flyer featuring hosting suggestions and helpful links will be placed in customers’ bags at more than 600 Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores throughout Pennsylvania.

“It’s important for party hosts to understand that under Pennsylvania law they can be held legally responsible for guests’ actions even after they leave the party,” Insurance Commissioner Altman explained. “Hosts can be held liable for negligence for the actions of an intoxicated guest, similar to being liable for injuries or property damage someone may suffer if a sidewalk for which the insurance policy holder is responsible is found to have contributed to the injury by being in disrepair, or not cleared of ice and snow.”

The in-store handout and web resources identify several actions hosts can take to avoid potential liability. These include:

• Making sure as a host you stay sober to monitor your guests’ sobriety
• Having a good amount and variety of food on hand throughout the party
• Offering a variety of non-alcoholic beverages
• Stopping alcohol service about an hour before the party ends
• Never serving alcohol to anyone under 21 years of age, which is illegal and carries significant civil and criminal liabilities

The resources also list actions a host can take if a guest has had too much to drink or is too tired to drive safely, including:
• Arranging for one or a few guests to not drink alcohol during the party and serve as designated drivers
• Calling a cab or ride-share for a guest
• Offering for a guest to stay overnight
Additional party planning and responsible hosting tips are available at FineWineAndGoodSpirits.com, under “Entertain,” including a calculator that can help a host determine how much alcohol might be needed at a party. A “Home for the Holidays” informational piece with tips on fire safety for holiday decorations, party hosting liability, and how to lessen the chances of gifts being stolen is also available at insurance.pa.gov, under “Coverage,” on the homeowner’s insurance page.
Altman said a homeowners’ or renters’ insurance policy might provide some liquor liability coverage, but this coverage can vary from policy to policy.
“A policy might provide coverage for things such as the costs associated with a legal defense, including expenses, settlements, or judgements,” Altman said. “However, some policies might exclude coverage for liability relating to serving alcohol in your home or apartment, especially if a criminal charge or conviction results from an incident involving alcohol.”
Altman added that, even if a policy has liquor liability coverage, in cases where there is extensive property damage, significant injury, or death, the liability limits in the policy might be insufficient to cover the costs.
“The best idea is to review your policy and discuss your liability coverage with your insurance professional and, if appropriate, consider adding a liquor liability rider to provide extra coverage,” Altman said.
At the event, PLCB Member Newsome also discussed how holiday celebrations are a great, natural opportunity to discuss with children the risks and dangers of underage drinking and how and why adults responsibly consume alcohol.
“In developing our Know When. Know How. statewide education and prevention campaign, which provides parents the information, resources, and confidence they need to begin having conversations with their kids about alcohol early and often, we learned that 7 out of 10 Pennsylvania parents don’t secure their alcohol, and about 20 percent of parents think it’s OK to let kids try alcohol on special occasions,” Newsome said. “One of the most basic tips we can offer is, don’t let minors have access to alcohol and open a dialogue with your children about why alcohol is not good for kids.”
At KnowWhenKnowHow.org, parents can find information about alcohol presented in digestible bits and pieces so parents can become comfortable discussing the topic without being overwhelmed. The website provides scenarios and tips on how parents can spark conversations about alcohol with their kids, features facts and statistics about alcohol’s effects on a growing body and discusses the role of parental responsibility as it relates to underage drinking prevention.
Altman, Holden, and Newsome all urged party hosts to be responsible, plan ahead so adult guests can consume safely and make good holiday memories with family and friends they’ll treasure for a lifetime.

Nominations Sought for 2019 Female Veterans Day

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Harrisburg, PA – Continuing the Wolf Administration’s effort to support women in the commonwealth and recognize those women who have served their country through the military, the Pennsylvania Commission for Women is seeking statewide nominations for its fourth annual Female Veterans Day Ceremony as part of Women’s History Month in March 2019. The event will take place at the Governor’s Residence in Harrisburg and veterans selected will be honored by Governor Tom Wolf and First Lady Frances Wolf.

“With more than 70,000 Pennsylvania women serving in various branches of the armed forces and an estimated 600,000 women veterans in Pennsylvania, unfortunately their selfless service too often goes unnoticed,” Governor Wolf said. “Frances and I look forward to Women’s History Month each year, when we can come together and recognize the sacrifice these women make on a daily basis to serve the greater good.”

“Women who have served deserve our recognition, and in hosting this event each March, the Commission for Women is honored to meet and experience the diversity within each class of women veterans recognized – women who have triumphed in both the public and private sectors,” Commission Chair Randi Teplitz said. “If you know a woman veteran, I highly encourage you to nominate her for this unique recognition.”

This year, the Female Veterans Day nomination form is available online. Nominees must be current Pennsylvania residents and have served at least four years in any branch of the U.S. military. The deadline for nominations is February 1, 2019.

For additional information on the nomination process, please contact the Commission for Women at women@pa.gov

Revenue Department Releases November 2018 Collections

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Harrisburg, Pa. — Pennsylvania collected $2.3 billion in General Fund revenue in November, which was $95.5 million, or 4.3 percent, more than anticipated, Revenue Secretary Dan Hassell reported today. Fiscal year-to-date General Fund collections total $12.4 billion, which is $333.6 million, or 2.8 percent, above estimate.

Since the start of the 2018-19 fiscal year, overall tax revenue is $913.3 million, or 8.2 percent, more than was collected in the same period of the last fiscal year.

Sales tax receipts totaled $910.2 million for November, $45.4 million above estimate. Year-to-date sales tax collections total $4.7 billion, which is $140 million, or 3.1 percent, more than anticipated.

Personal income tax (PIT) revenue in November was $834.8 million, $30.2 million below estimate. This brings year-to-date PIT collections to $4.9 billion, which is $71 million, or 1.4 percent, below estimate.

November corporation tax revenue of $138 million was $27.3 million above estimate. Year-to-date corporation tax collections total $1.1 billion, which is $207.1 million, or 23.7 percent, above estimate.

Inheritance tax revenue for the month was $81.8 million, $5.1 million below estimate, bringing the year-to-date total to $430.7 million, which is $4 million, or 0.9 percent, above estimate.

Realty transfer tax revenue was $46.4 million for November, $700,000 below estimate, bringing the fiscal-year total to $228.8 million, which is $4.7 million, or 2 percent, less than anticipated.

Other General Fund tax revenue, including cigarette, malt beverage, liquor and gaming taxes, totaled $167.7 million for the month, $10.1 million above estimate and bringing the year-to-date total to $759.7 million, which is $10.5 million, or 1.4 percent, below estimate.

Non-tax revenue totaled $157.8 million for the month, $48.7 million above estimate, bringing the year-to-date total to $261.9 million, which is $68.7 million, or 35.6 percent, above estimate.

In addition to the General Fund collections, the Motor License Fund received $260.8 million for the month, $14.4 million above estimate. Fiscal year-to-date collections for the fund — which include the commonly known gas and diesel taxes, as well as other license, fine and fee revenues — total $1.2 billion, which is $21.4 million, or 1.8 percent, below estimate.

Governor Wolf Participates in Washington Post Live Panel on PA’s Leadership Role in Criminal Justice Reform

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Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf participated in a Washington Post Live panel discussion, “Tackling Mass Incarceration: A View from Pennsylvania,” in Washington, D.C., focused on Pennsylvania’s leadership role in criminal justice reform, including the state being first in the nation to pass Clean Slate legislation. Gov. Wolf was joined by Rep. Sheryl Delozier and Secretary John Wetzel, Department of Corrections. Wesley Lowry, Washington Post national correspondent, served as panel moderator.

“Pennsylvania has taken a bi-partisan, collaborative approach to criminal justice reform,” Gov. Wolf said. “The goal is to get people out of our prisons and back into being productive members of their communities and of our state, and Clean Slate makes it easier for those who have interacted with the justice system to reduce the stigma they face when looking for employment and housing.

“It’s my hope that Congress takes Pennsylvania’s lead and passes similar legislation at the national level.”

The panel was part of a multi-panel series that included topics on conviction and clemency, a bipartisan approach to criminal justice reform, and the First Step Act currently being considered by Congress. Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) participated on the First Step panel.

Gov. Wolf signed the Clean Slate legislation in June and has called for more meaningful criminal justice reform including passage of the second round of Justice Reinvestment Initiative or JRI2, bail and pre-trial reforms, Post-Conviction Relief Act expansion, probation and parole revocation and resentencing, and indigent defense.

“The Washington Post panel discussion was an excellent opportunity for Pennsylvania to be recognized for its efforts to establish fair, bi-partisan, commonsense criminal justice reform initiatives and I’m proud to have been a part of this ongoing conversation,” Gov. Wolf said.

Wolf Administration Approves Funding to Help Homeless Families in Pennsylvania

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Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf announced more than $5 million in funding to help homeless families and promote homelessness prevention across the commonwealth. The funding is provided from the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) program.

“Combating homelessness and preventing someone from becoming homeless in the first place is a priority of my administration,” said Governor Wolf. “Our goal is simple: to eliminate homelessness in the commonwealth. These grants are another step in achieving that goal.”

The ESG funding falls into four categories: rapid rehousing, homelessness prevention, street outreach, and emergency shelter. Rapid rehousing helps individuals and families who are homeless, fleeing violence, or living in a home not suitable for human habitation. Homelessness prevention helps families who are currently housed but may be in jeopardy of losing their housing. Street outreach connects unsheltered homeless individuals with emergency shelter and/or health services. Emergency shelter funding supports costs associated with operating an emergency shelter and renovations.

The $5,276,043 in ESG funding was approved for the following areas:

  • Adams County $64,193
  • Allegheny County $200,000
  • Armstrong County $265,020
  • Beaver County $45,000
  • Bedford County $97,300
  • Blair County $350,000
  • Bradford County $50,000
  • Bucks County $25,000
  • Butler County $64,194
  • Carbon County $79,200
  • Chester County $237,848
  • City of Philadelphia $200,000
  • Clinton County $99,639
  • Crawford County $50,000
  • Cumberland County $99,639
  • Dauphin County $191,736
  • Franklin County $279,972
  • Indiana County $145,295
  • Lawrence County Social Services, Inc. $1,276,142
  • McKean County $112,259
  • Mercer County $197,507
  • Monroe County $329,953
  • Montgomery County $155,625
  • Schuylkill County $330,652
  • Tioga County $50,000
  • Union-Snyder Community Action Agency $150,000
  • Wayne County $129,868

December Consumer Financial Protection Events Announced

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Harrisburg, PA – Education and outreach staff from the Department of Banking and Securities will be meeting with groups of senior citizens and the public, throughout the month of December to promote financial capability as part of Governor Tom Wolf’s Consumer Financial Protection Initiative.

For Senior Citizens

 The presentation “Investment Fraud Bingo” – an interactive presentation to help participants learn ways to protect themselves from investment frauds – will be offered at the following locations:

  • Southern Blair Senior Center at 15229 Dunnings Highway in East Freedom (Blair County) on December 3 from 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM
  • Catawissa Senior Center at 319 Pine Street in Catawissa (Columbia County) on December 5 from 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM
  • Williamsburg Senior Center at 423 W. Second Street in Williamsburg (Blair County) on December 10 from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM
  • Center in the Park at 5818 Germantown Avenue in Philadelphia on December 11 from 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM
  • The Central Blair Center at 1320 12th Avenue in Altoona (Blair County) on December 13 from 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM

The presentation “Cybersecurity – Staying Safe on the Internet” – covering key topics such as using secure websites, creating strong passwords, being aware of what you put on social media, and even tips for shopping online safely – will be offered at KleinLife Center at 10100 Jamison Avenue in Philadelphia on December 5 from 1:15 PM to 2:15 PM. (Open to Travel Club Members ONLY)

Outreach staff will present “Spending Plans” – which outlines the differences between wants and needs; setting “SMART” goals; creating a spending plan; and putting the plan into action – will be offered at Columbia Senior Center at 510 Walnut Street in Columbia (Lancaster County) on December 12 from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM.

For General Audiences

Outreach staff will present “Investment Fraud Bingo” at the following locations:

  • PA CareerLink Washington County at 90 W. Chestnut Street, Suite 150LL in Washington (Washington County) on December 4 from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
  • PA CareerLink Mon Valley at 570 Galiffa Drive in Donora (Washington County) on December 4 from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM
  • American Legion, Post 516 Social Hall at 104 Del Delight in Hollidaysburg (Blair County) on December 19 from 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM

The presentation “Responsible Homeownership” – discussing issues such as anticipating home repairs; being prepared for the unexpected; budgeting; and not buying more than you can afford – will be offered at the Township Library of Lower Southampton at 1983 Bridgetown Pike in Feasterville (Bucks County) on December 5 from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM.

A presentation combining “Avoiding Scams and ID Theft” and “Cybersecurity – Staying Safe Online” will be offered at Westmoreland Casemanagement and Supports, Inc. at 770 East Pittsburgh Street in Greensburg (Westmoreland County) on December 7 from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM. Registration is not required, but strongly recommended by contacting mkeller@wcswi.org or 724-257-1403.

The STaRT (Start Today and Retire Tomorrow) program – which focuses on retirement planning, setting goals, and how to achieve those goals – will be offered at Rachel Kohl Library at 687 Smithbridge Road in Glen Mills (Delaware County) on December 11 from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM.

A combined presentation of “Preparing for Big Purchases,” “Understanding Credit Reports and Scores,” and “Consumer Fraud Bingo” – focusing on the financial issues of buying a new car or home; the importance of your credit report; the impact of a new purchase on other financial obligations; and a interactive game to help players identify scams and financial fraud – will be offered at Norristown CareerLink at 1855 New Hope Street in Norristown (Montgomery County) on December 19 from 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM. Registration is required by contacting 610-270-3429.

The department’s Investor Education and Consumer Outreach staff works with state and local government agencies, service providers, community and trade organizations, the General Assembly, the military community, schools, and other partners to help Pennsylvanians across the commonwealth become well-informed about the financial marketplace. There are a variety of free, non-commercialprograms [PDF] and presentations [PDF] available, or a program can be tailored to a specific group’s needs.

The department’s Calendar of Events can be found online here. Consumers and community groups can call 1-800-PA-BANKS or emailinformed@pa.gov for more information. To learn more about the Consumer Financial Protection Initiative, search #GovWolfCFPI on Twitter.

Five Ways to Avoid Card ‘Shimmers’ During the Holidays

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Harrisburg, PA – With the holiday shopping season’s arrival, many of us will find ourselves withdrawing cash from ATMs, filling up our gas tanks for busy shopping days or holiday travel, or making payments at credit card terminals. As technology and financial scam artists become more sophisticated, Secretary of Banking and Securities Robin L. Wiessmann is warning Pennsylvanians to be on the lookout for a variation of an old trick for stealing your payment information.

Card “shimmers” are a newer version of the more commonly known card “skimmers” financial scam. Rather than collecting your payment information from the swipe of your credit or debit card’s magnetic stripe, the criminal steals your information from the card’s EMV chip when it is inserted into the machine’s slot. This is done with help from a shim – a paper-thin, card-size device embedded with a microchip or flash storage inserted directly into the machine’s card slot. The shim then reads and stores your payment information until the scammer can return to collect it.

“Unlike card skimmers – which can be easier to spot with a physical inspection of your ATM, gas pump, or store payment device – shims can be harder to detect due to their paper-thin size and concealment inside of the machine,” warns Wiessmann. “Exerting a little extra effort and due diligence can go a long way in helping protect your personal financial information from scammers, who can value your personal information more than money.”

Wiessmann suggests the following tips to protect yourself from card “shimmers”:

  1. Defer to “tap-and-go” or contactless payment methods. Advances in technology have made it easier to make payments while avoiding skimming and shimming risks. Many credit cards offer a “tap-and-go” feature that do not require inserting or swiping your card. Services like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay are similarly used in a tap-and-pay manner. If you do swipe or insert your card, consider using your credit card instead of debit card to avoid compromising your PIN and to gain other consumer protections.
  2. Watch statements and account activity carefully. Regularly look through your credit card and bank account transactions to catch any errant transactions. You can request a  free copy of your credit report [PDF] from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies once a year. Consider pulling from one of the companies every four months to keep a regular eye on the activity.
  3. Heed the warning of ATM or payment terminal troubles. ATMs in low-traffic, poorly lit areas and those that are freestanding are more likely to be targets for fraud devices. The same is true of payment terminals inside of stores located near employees; although shimming devices can be present within a store, you are less likely to find one there than at an unmanned, hard-to-observe machine. If someone ahead of you is taking an unusual amount of time at the ATM and is acting suspiciously, do not use that machine and report it to law enforcement. Most importantly, if you have trouble removing your card from the machine or it gets completely stuck, contact the institution  and law enforcement immediately to report the issue.
  4. Use your bank’s services. Whenever possible, use the ATM inside of a bank which are less susceptible to shimmers or withdraw money directly from a bank teller.
  5. Guard the keypad. Use your hand to cover your PIN number to conceal it from a person in line behind you or the view of any planted cameras.

If you believe you have been the victim of a card “shimmer” or “skimmer,” file a report with local or state police [PDF] and report the incident to the card issuer.

Throughout the week, the Department of Banking and Securities has been highlighting financial scams that may impact holiday shoppers – the Tech Support ScamGrandparent Scam, and fake banking apps – and  ways consumers can protect themselves.

Anyone can contact the Department of Banking and Securities at 1-800-PA-BANKS or 1-800-600-0007 to ask questions or file complaints about financial transactions, companies, or products. Members of the public are also invited to connect to the department through Facebook and Twitter.

Wolf Administration Receives $10 Million from Bloomberg Philanthropies to Fight Opioid Epidemic in Pennsylvania

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Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania has been selected as the first state to participate in a groundbreaking initiative from Bloomberg Philanthropies designed to strengthen state and local opioid prevention and treatment efforts. Governor Tom Wolf accepted a $10 million grant this morning from Michael Bloomberg — founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and World Health Organization (WHO) Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases — at the inaugural Bloomberg American Health Summit in Washington, D.C. Governor Wolf was a featured speaker at the event, describing his administration’s approach to reduce the number of Pennsylvanians addicted to opioids.

“My administration has made fighting the opioid epidemic one of its top priorities, and this collaboration with Michael Bloomberg and Bloomberg Philanthropies will allow us to take an in-depth look at the areas where we can supplement our programs to successfully assist more Pennsylvanians,” said Gov. Wolf. “I want to see an end to opioid use disorder in Pennsylvania, and this is a step in the right direction.”

Pennsylvania was selected as the first state for this partnership due to the toll the epidemic has taken and the work it has already done to fight the opioid crisis.

Following the summit, Gov. Wolf and Michael Bloomberg are in Philadelphia to visit the Bridge Way School and Thomas Jefferson University Maternal Addiction Treatment Education and Research to see the unique opioid use disorder treatment programs implemented by these facilities.

“Pennsylvania has been one of the states hardest hit by the opioid epidemic, but Governor Wolf has been a real leader on the issue,” said Michael Bloomberg. “We’ll work to help him tackle opioids from every angle – and save more lives around the state. Together, we’ll identify the best ways to curb this critical public health crisis and create a blueprint for change across America.”

Bloomberg Philanthropies will work with the Wolf Administration over a three-year period. Targeted funding areas will include staffing, technical assistance, and data collection.

Since Governor Wolf first signed a heroin and opioid disaster declaration in January, 16 state agencies have been charged with fighting the opioid epidemic and have made significant progress to help individuals and families dealing with this crisis. Recent accomplishments include waiving birth certificate fees for individuals seeking treatment, using federal Medicaid funding in treatment facilities to provide medically necessary treatment to more than 125,000 individuals, and providing career services to people who have been impacted by the opioid epidemic and plan to return to work.

While in Philadelphia, Gov. Wolf and Michael Bloomberg are speaking with individuals and families affected by opioid use disorder who are participating in unique, state-supported recovery programs.

Gov. Wolf and Michael Bloomberg are touring the Bridge Way School, the city’s first school for students in recovery, where they will meet with students and staff to learn about the unique program. At the school, high school students in recovery develop and nurture the tools and strategies to maintain sobriety while holding themselves and their classmates accountable as members of a sober learning community.

Later they are meeting with participants in the Thomas Jefferson University Maternal Addiction Treatment Education and Research (MATER) Program and talking with treatment experts and Dr. Stephen K. Klasko, president and CEO of Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health, about treatment for opioid use. Mothers at the Thomas Jefferson University MATER Program participate in a trauma-informed, mindfulness-based parenting intervention while also in medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder. Researchers at MATER are also studying the connections between behavior and pharmacological interventions with reductions in cigarette smoking, benzodiazepine abuse and opioid use disorder. MATER is a designated Pennsylvania Center of Excellence for the treatment of substance use disorder.

“When it comes to making decisions about complex societal issues like the opioid epidemic, knowledge is power,” said Gov. Wolf. “Bloomberg Philanthropies’ support of data-driven research and evaluation will help my administration determine areas of strength and improvement in our initiatives, which will ultimately lead to more lives saved.”

Twenty-Four Schools Compete in Finals of Robotics Coding Event

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Harrisburg, PA – Highlighting Pennsylvania as a national leader in computer science and technology education, Department of Education (PDE) Deputy Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Matthew Stem today welcomed middle and high school students from 24 schools in the finals of the Cyber Robotics coding competition hosted by Harrisburg University.

Computer coding is a fast-growing component within the Science, Technology, Education and Math (STEM) fields and part of Governor Tom Wolf’s new PAsmart initiative. Pennsylvania now ranks second in the country for investments in K-12 STEM and computer education according to the Education Commission of the States. The governor also successfully encouraged the State Board of Education to endorse computer science standards for K-12, making computer courses available to all students. To further help students, Pennsylvania joined the Governors’ Partnership for K-12 Computer Science, a bipartisan initiative organized by Code.org.

Over the next decade, seven in 10 new jobs in Pennsylvania will require workers to use a computer and an estimated 300,000 jobs in science, technology, engineering and math will be available in Pennsylvania this year.

“Governor Wolf recognizes that expanding access to computer science and STEM programs is absolutely critical for preparing our students for an ever-changing workforce,” said Stem. “Competitions like this give students valuable opportunities to develop and test the skills that are in demand by Pennsylvania employers.”

Today’s grand finale competition included 40 teams from 24 schools and took place during Computer Science Education Week, which is being celebrated internationally from December 3-9.

The top three teams were:

  • Riverside Jr/Sr High School, Lackawanna County
  • Wyndcroft School, Montgomery County
  • Lackawanna Trail Computer Club, Lackawanna/Wyoming counties

Other teams included:

  • Cardinal John Foley Regional Catholic School, Delaware County
  • Conrad Weiser Middle School, Berks County
  • Fell Charter School, Lackawanna County
  • Jim Thorpe School District, Carbon County
  • Liberty Elementary School, Tioga County
  • Lititz Christian School, Lancaster County
  • Lower Dauphin Middle School, Dauphin County
  • Montessori Academy of Chambersburg, Franklin County
  • Nazareth Area Middle School, Northampton County
  • Orefield Middle School, Lehigh County
  • Pequea Valley Intermediate School, Lancaster County
  • Reading Southern Middle School, Berks County
  • Rimersburg Elementary School, Clarion County
  • Sayre Area School District, Bradford County
  • Shallow Brook Intermediate School, York County
  • St. Joan of Arc School, Dauphin County
  • St. John the Baptist Catholic School, York County
  • Towanda Area School District, Bradford County
  • Tredyffrin/Easttown Middle School, Chester County
  • Wilson West Middle School, Berks County
  • Yough Intermediate Middle School, Westmoreland County

Overall, 104 teams competed for a spot in the finals.

The coding competition uses a cloud-based simulation platform featuring a virtual, 3D animated robot. Teams develop code to complete missions and challenges.

PA DEP Inspections Find Small Farms Are Making Good Strides to Improve PA Water Quality

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Harrisburg, PA – The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) reported on the commitment of Pennsylvania’s farmers to reducing pollutants in local streams and rivers in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Department inspections resulted in 96 percent of almost 3,000 small farms visited in the watershed meeting state requirements for water quality planning.

“DEP’s expanded inspections program is a winning formula to improve stream health in our 43 counties in the Bay watershed,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “It documents the good work many farmers are doing voluntarily to develop plans to reduce pollution. Just as important, it creates productive working relationships that help farmers meet their plan obligations.”
Farmers are required to have a Manure Management Plan to reduce nitrogen and phosphorous levels, an Erosion and Sediment Control Plan to reduce sediment levels, or both.
“Nurturing living things is what farmers do,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “Pennsylvania’s farmers have demonstrated that they understand the connection between clean water downstream, and healthy soil and water for Pennsylvania. We certainly have more work to do, but these inspection results demonstrate that farmers are committed to doing their part to improve water quality.”
DEP, Conservation District offices, and the State Conservation Commission teamed up on inspections. They visited 2,924 farms, covering more than 329,000 acres of farmland. Focusing on smaller farms, they inspected operations averaging 87 acres in size.
The results show that many farmers are willing to develop plans to reduce pollutants in local waters: Two-thirds of farmers visited already had their plan prepared at the time of inspection.
Almost all the remaining one-third worked with conservation districts and agricultural consultants to develop their plan by the end of the inspection year. The program covered July 2017–July 2018.
“Education is a large part of the program, as we use inspections as a catalyst to help farmers understand what’s needed and get them on track to develop and ultimately act on their plans. Action to improve water quality is our ultimate goal,” said Secretary McDonnell.
The results represent the second year of the inspections program, which DEP launched in 2016 to complement existing state farm inspection programs. While inspections currently focus on plan development, the goal is to begin focusing on plan implementation in 2019-2020.
Pennsylvania has 33,610 farms, spanning three million acres in agricultural land use, in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.