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Category Archives: Pennsylvania

CALN TOWNSHIP SET FOR $525,000 WATER MAIN UPGRADE

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COATESVILLE, PA  – Pennsylvania American Water today announced the start of construction to install new water main in Caln Township to improve service reliability and prevent water outages. The project cost is approximately $525,000 and will replace outdated pipe dating back to the 1940s.

Starting this week, the company will install nearly 3,500 feet of new eight-inch ductile iron along Reed Street between 17th Avenue and 13th Avenue, and along 13th Avenue between Reed Street and West Chester Road. Crews expect to complete the water main installation, testing and disinfection, and connecting customers’ service lines to the new main by early December, weather permitting. Final street paving restoration is scheduled for next spring.

Crews will work weekdays between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. Traffic restrictions will be in place during construction, and motorists are urged to give themselves extra time and exercise caution when traveling through the work zone. During construction, customers might experience temporary water service interruptions, discolored water and/or lower than normal water pressure.

Time Running Out to Pass Telemedicine Bill

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Andrea Sears

HARRISBURG, Pa. – With the state legislative session coming to a close, advocates are still hoping a bill that would expand options for Pennsylvanians to get health care will get a final vote.

Senate Bill 780 would require insurance companies to offer coverage for telemedicine services provided by phone, email or over the Internet at rates comparable to in-person office visits.

The bill easily cleared the state Senate in June, but the House has yet to vote on the measure.

Thirty-eight other states have similar requirements.

According to Bill Johnston-Walsh, state director of AARP Pennsylvania, it would be extremely beneficial to those who may have to travel an hour or more to see a doctor or specialist.

“Telemedicine has the potential to improve access to both health care and home and community-based services, and it will increase the choice of providers especially in rural areas,” he stresses.

SB 780 has the support of 45 groups including organizations representing Pennsylvania doctors and hospitals. But it is opposed by insurance companies.

Johnston-Walsh says by making health care more accessible, telemedicine could benefit health and save money.

“We believe and hospitals believe and doctors believe that this is better for patients because we will be able to catch things sooner, the costs will be lower and we’ll be able to treat people at a much earlier stage in their sickness,” he states.

Johnston-Walsh says telemedicine would help both consumers and insurers keep up with technological advances in health care.

But he notes time is running out. The House is scheduled to meet for only four more days before the session ends on Nov. 13.

“We’re hoping that it will pass within the next day or two,” he states. “There’s only several more legislative days left before they leave for the year. This bill is very important and it has to be voted on right now.”

PA State Special-Ed Funding Falls Far Behind Need

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Andrea Sears

PHILADELPHIA – Local school districts are picking up more and more of the costs of special education as state funding lags, according to a new report.

On average, the Education Law Center report said, the share of special-education funding that comes from local districts grew by 9 percent over eight years. For 53 of the state’s 500 districts, the increase was 20 percent or more.

Reynelle Brown Staley, policy attorney at the center, said the gap has been growing because the cost of special education has increased at a rate of about 5 percent every year.

“But state funding is increasing at roughly 1 percent per year,” she said, “and it’s simply not enough to meet the gap between what districts need and what students need to get the educational services that they are entitled to.”

Staley said now is the time for the state’s Special Education Funding Commission to review the funding system and demand prompt action from the Legislature.

Total spending for special education has grown by more than $1.5 billion since 2009, but state funding increased by only $72 million. Staley pointed out that when state and federal funds fall short, local districts need to make up the difference.

“They’re needing to look elsewhere in their budgets for funding, to raise taxes,” she said, “and in some cases, they’re having to cut services because there simply isn’t enough funding coming from the state.”

Local districts now put in almost $20 for every $1 in increased special-education funding that comes from the state.

A study eight years ago found a $2,000 gap between per-pupil spending and student needs. Staley said simply returning to that state funding level now would require spending increases of at least $100 million a year over several years.

“But we know, based on that 2009 costing-out study, that showed that districts were significantly underfunding special education, that the state needs to do even more than that to actually meet the needs of students with disabilities,” she said.

Staley said the special-education funding needs don’t even include an estimated $3 billion gap in basic education funding.

The study is online at elc-pa.org.

Pittsburgh Security Officers Win $15/Hour Contract

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Andrea Sears

PITTSBURGH – Security officers in Pittsburgh are celebrating a new contract that, for many, almost doubles the pay and benefits they were getting just a few years ago.

The agreement, announced in Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto’s conference room on Tuesday, covers more than 1,100 workers who protect most of the city’s iconic buildings, museums and universities.

Just three years ago, when they negotiated their first contract, said Sam Williamson, Western Pennsylvania district director for Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union, some of these workers were making $8.50 an hour and had no employer-funded health insurance.

Now, their jobs include insurance, he said, and they’re moving toward a living wage.

“There’ll be continued significant wage increases that will raise the base or starting pay to $14.20 an hour over the course of the contract,” said Williamson, “and the average pay will be a little over $15 an hour by the end of the agreement.”

He said those raises will bring an additional $7 million over four years into low-income households in neighborhoods across Pittsburgh.

While politicians have claimed the economy has recovered from the devastation of the Great Recession, economists said most of the gains have gone to the top 1 percent of earners. Williamson pointed out that for the vast majority of Americans, wages and income have stagnated.

“Income inequality has continued to widen,” he said, “and the only exception to that is where workers are able to organize into unions and bargain collectively for the kinds of wage increases that they actually deserve.”

Williamson said many security workers still report having trouble affording food and difficulty paying monthly utility bills. He said the new contract will be a big step in turning that around.

“Between those wage investments, continued investment in health care that will make sure that people have access to really good-quality health insurance, and the introduction of paid sick days,” he said, “this agreement makes a huge improvement in over 1,000 Pittsburghers’ lives.”

32BJ SEIU is the largest union for security officers in the country.

Scam Warning: Fraudulent Notices Threaten Pennsylvanians with Prosecution due to Unpaid Taxes

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Harrisburg, Pa. — The Department of Revenue today warned the public of a recently reported mail scam in which con artists have tried to defraud Pennsylvanians by threatening them with legal action or criminal prosecution if they don’t pay an illegitimate tax debt immediately.

“Con artists are always working to develop new and elaborate schemes to swindle money from hard-working people,” Revenue Secretary Dan Hassell said. “They use high-pressure tactics and threats to pressure their victims and make them fearful of the potential consequences if they don’t act immediately. We want everyone to be aware of scams like these so they can recognize the warning signs and protect themselves.”

Understanding the scam

According to Dauphin County officials, a number of residents have recently reported receiving notifications through the mail from the “Tax Processing Center.” The notices say the recipient owes “The State of Pennsylvania” unpaid taxes and a “warranted lien” has been issued in their name.

The notices pressure recipients to immediately call the phone number provided to avoid criminal penalty, property seizure and civil proceedings. The notices say the phone number provided will connect callers with a “Levy and Warrant Officer.”

Tips to avoid tax scams and con artists

The Department of Revenue is encouraging Pennsylvanians to keep the following tips in mind to safeguard against this scam and others:

  • Look for imposters: Many times con artists will pose as a government entity or an official business. If you are targeted by a con artist through the mail, phone or email, do not provide personal information or money until you are sure you are speaking to a legitimate representative.
  • Examine the notice: Con artists often design vague communications to cast a wide net to lure in as many victims as possible. Examine the notice for identifying information that can be verified. Look for blatant factual errors and other inconsistencies, such as a fake return address. If the notice is unexpected and states ‘This Is Your Final Notice,’ take a moment and verify its legitimacy. The Department of Revenue will send multiple letters to taxpayers if there is a legitimate liability owed.
  • Unusual payment methods: Avoid scenarios where you are asked to pay your debt with reloadable debit cards, gift cards or money wiring services. The Department of Revenue and other government agencies will never ask you to satisfy an outstanding liability using these payment methods.
  • Confide in someone you trust: Con artists will use aggressive tactics to rush a person to make an immediate payment to avoid legal action or prosecution. If you have any questions at all about the legitimacy of a notice you receive, slow down and talk to someone you trust.
  • Conduct research online: Using information included in a potentially fraudulent notice, such as company name, address or telephone number, conduct a search online to see if a scam has been reported by other people or government agencies.

Steps to follow if you are a victim of a scam

If you believe you are a victim of this scam or have been targeted by a con artist, contact your local law enforcement agency. You can also call the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection at 800-441-2555. Also, if you receive a mailing you believe is mail fraud, contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service here.

If you have questions about your local property taxes, contact your local taxing authority. If your question pertains to your state personal income tax return or a potential state tax liability, call the Department of Revenue’s Taxpayer Services and Information Center at 717-787-8201.

PA DIOCESE VICTIMS REPORT via PA Attorney General’s Office.

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This is a duplicate of the official website and materials, found at https://www.attorneygeneral.gov/report/
For nonprofit, non-commercial, educational purposes only.

READ THE ENTIRE GRAND JURY REPORT HERE – PDF FILE

 


THIS SITE SERVES AS THE HOLDING GROUND FOR THE RESULTS OF A TWO-YEAR GRAND JURY INVESTIGATION INTO WIDESPREAD SEXUAL ABUSE OF CHILDREN WITHIN SIX DIOCESES OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN PENNSYLVANIA AND THE SYSTEMIC COVER UP BY SENIOR CHURCH OFFICIALS IN PENNSYLVANIA AND AT THE VATICAN.

RESOURCES

Right-click, Save Link As (for download) any of the following files:

Download The Grand Jury Report

We will pursue any information or leads concerning child sexual abuse within these Dioceses, wherever it comes from.

Our clergy abuse hotline is: 888-538-8541.


Disclaimer: Content above is verbatim from from the PA Attorney General’s website.

Transit System’s Censorship Ruling Appealed

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By: Andrea Sears

PHILADELPHIA – The ACLU is appealing a court ruling that allows a county transit system to ban ads from an atheist group. The County of Lackawanna Transit System refused to allow the Northeast Pennsylvania Freethought Society to place ads on its vehicles that contained the word “atheist” and the group’s website. The transit system said the ads were too controversial.

According to ACLU staff attorney Brian Hauss, when a government entity such as a transit authority opens up a space for public speech, the First Amendment puts strict limits on its ability to censor that speech.

“When the government has the power to censor speech simply because it’s too controversial, history has shown time and again that the government will inevitably use that power for the benefit of people with political connections and the powerful, and to the detriment of everybody else,” he says.

The Federal District Court upheld the ban, saying the vehicles are a “limited public forum,” allowing for more discretion, and because the ban was not based on the viewpoint of the ads.

But Hauss disagrees with that determination. He points out that when the government is given wide discretion to prohibit speech it deems controversial, no one knows what the factors are that go into that determination.

“If the government concluded, for example, that an ad supporting Black Lives Matter was hate speech, it would be empowered to suppress that advertisement and its discretion would be very hard to overrule,” he explains.

He notes that in a similar case, a transit system in the nation’s capital banned an ad placed by the ACLU that simply contained the text of the First Amendment.

And Hauss points out that official censorship leads to the stifling of debate and the public’s right to know, as has happened in Philadelphia.

“The transit system there refused to run an ad about mortgage discrimination,” notes Hauss. “It was an informational ad explaining that there was systemic mortgage discrimination in a lot of housing in Pennsylvania.”

The ACLU is appealing the Lackawanna ruling to the Federal Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Wolf Administration Recognizes Impact of Local, Healthy Foods During Produce Month

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Media, PA – Pennsylvania is home to more than 1,000 farmers’ markets, with local, nutritious, and affordable produce generating more than $140 million for the commonwealth’s economy. Today, in recognition of those significant contributions, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding announced that Governor Tom Wolf has declared August 2018 as Produce Month in Pennsylvania.

“The commonwealth is a leader in the production of fruits and vegetables, and the impact these products have on our communities is far-reaching and profound,” said Sec. Redding. “We continue to support the growth and consumption of Pennsylvania produce, and we continue to encourage Pennsylvanians to eat fresh, eat healthy, and buy local–three of the most important things a consumer can do for themselves and for their community.”

During his visit to Linvilla Orchards in Delaware County today, Sec. Redding noted that Pennsylvania farmers’ markets offer a variety of benefits to local economies. For instance, he said, every $100 spent at a farmers’ market contributes $48 to the local economy.

In addition to the economic impacts realized through the consumption of local produce, Redding also noted that farmers’ markets can help combat food insecurity by providing affordable, or even free, food to Pennsylvanians at risk for hunger.

He reminded eligible residents that they can access fresh, Pennsylvania-grown produce – at no cost — through the Women Infants and Children (WIC) and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Programs. Participating markets can be found at pafmnp.com. Voucher holders can search for a participating market in their area or an area they are visiting. Participants may redeem vouchers from June 1 through November 30, 2018.

Text of the governor’s proclamation follows:

PENNSYLVANIA PRODUCE MONTH

August 2018

WHEREAS, Pennsylvania is a national leader in the production of quality, nutritious and affordable vegetables, a sector of the agriculture industry that generates more than $140 million for the Commonwealth’s economy; and

WHEREAS, nearly 4,000 farm families manage about 49,400 acres which produce well in excess of 200,000 tons of vegetables for fresh and processing use each year; and

WHEREAS, Pennsylvania’s vegetable growers are national leaders in the production of processing snap beans (3rd); pumpkins (7th), cantaloupes (7th), fresh market sweet corn (9th), fresh market tomatoes (11th) and fresh market cabbage (12h); and

WHEREAS, Pennsylvania growers use integrated pest management and other good agricultural practices to provide an extra level of safety to consumers and the environment alike; and

WHEREAS, Pennsylvania vegetables are both delicious and nutritious, providing important vitamins, fiber and other dietary components that are essential to a healthy, balanced diet; and

WHEREAS, health authorities have long encouraged increased consumption of vegetables for both nutritional and disease prevention purposes; and

WHEREAS, many Pennsylvania fruit and vegetable growers market their produce as PA Preferred™, the official brand of agricultural goods grown and made in Pennsylvania. Buying PA Preferred ensures consumers have chosen food locally grown and processed and are investing their dollars back into the local economy by supporting Pennsylvania’s producers; and

WHEREAS, fresh Pennsylvania vegetables are available in abundant supply and peak quality at community farmers markets, roadside farm markets, and supermarkets throughout the Commonwealth during August.

THEREFORE, in recognition of our thriving vegetable industry, I, Tom Wolf, Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, do hereby proclaim August 2018 PRODUCE MONTH in Pennsylvania, and encourage all citizens to enjoy the commonwealth’s plentiful supply of fresh and processed vegetables and vegetable products while recognizing the industry’s contributions to our economy and health.

GIVEN under my hand and the Seal of the Governor, at the City of Harrisburg, this first day of August two thousand eighteen, the year of the commonwealth the two hundred forty-third.

TOM WOLF

DEP Helps Improve School Safety with Laboratory Chemicals Training and Cleanout

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Harrisburg, PA – With the new school year approaching, 11 schools in seven counties are protecting students’ safety by improving management of laboratory chemicals in the 2017-2018 Schools Chemical Cleanout Campaign led by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). By the time the campaign ends on August 9, 2018, DEP will have removed more than 57,000 pounds of outdated, excess, and high-risk chemicals and 158 pounds of low-level radioactive materials from 180 schools statewide since the annual program began in 2011.

“We’re committed to helping schools protect their students, faculty, and staff by preventing problems with mishandled chemicals,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “Lab accidents can and do happen at schools. To help reduce risk, we train teachers and staff on the full spectrum of chemical use in teaching, from thoughtful purchasing to safe handling, storage, and disposal. We may provide further support by funding and coordinating a one-time chemical cleanout event.”

Schools must complete DEP chemical management training to be eligible to apply for the one-time cleanout. DEP provides the training to personnel in the fall, and the school completes a laboratory chemical inventory over the winter. DEP then coordinates a cleanout event at the school in the summer.

Eighty teachers and staff from 61 schools participated in DEP’s fall 2017 training. Earning continuing education credits, teachers learned procurement best practices; what to include in a chemical inventory; how to replace high-risk chemicals with lower-risk ones; correct spill response; and proper storage, use, and disposal.

The following schools were approved for the 2018 chemical cleanout:

  • Bucks County: Council Rock School District;
  • Huntingdon County: Mount Union School District and Southern Huntingdon County School District
  • Lackawanna County: Lakeland Junior/Senior High School;
  • Luzerne County: Crestwood School, Hazleton Area High School, and Northwest Area School District;
  • Mercer County: Mercer Area Middle School;
  • Montgomery County: Bala Cynwyd Middle School and Harriton High School;
  • Potter County: Coudersport Area Junior/Senior High School.

Cleanouts are carried out by approved contractors under DEP supervision, and hazardous and nonhazardous wastes are transported to appropriate permitted disposal facilities.

Teachers can return for chemical management continuing education even after their schools have had a cleanout under this popular program.

The DEP Schools Chemical Cleanout Campaign is provided to schools at no cost.

Training for the 2018-2019 campaign will begin in October. Teachers interested in participating should consult their Intermediate Unit Continuing Education courses. DEP offers the campaign as part of the Department of Education’s Safe Schools Initiative.

DEP1.png
 Photo: Containers from 55-gallon drums to 5-gallon buckets filled with small canisters of laboratory chemicals (segregated into groups such as oxidizers, acids, and flammables) ready to be transported to disposal facilities.
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Photo: Hazardous chemicals from a previous school cleanout.

LONGHORNED TICK FOUND IN CENTRE COUNTY, PA

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Image result for Longhorned tick

File Photo

 

 HARRISBURG, PA – Pennsylvania’s first longhorned tick has turned up in Centre County’s Potter Township.

The identification was confirmed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL).

A single longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis) was identified on an adult, male wild white-tailed deer that was euthanized on July 10 by Game Commission personnel because it was exhibiting signs consistent with chronic wasting disease (CWD), according to Dr. Justin Brown, agency wildlife veterinarian. The deer was diagnosed with severe pneumonia and no CWD prions were detected.

Ticks were collected from the deer at the laboratory as part of the Game Commission’s active longhorn tick surveillance program. The suspected longhorn tick was sent to and first identified by the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study in Athens, Ga., and subsequently confirmed at the NVSL.

The longhorned tick, also known as the “cattle tick” or “bush tick”, is an invasive parasite native to Southeast Asia. It currently is not known when, where or how this tick was introduced into North America. However, it was first found and identified on a sheep in New Jersey during 2017. Since then, it has been identified in wild and domestic animals in other states, including Virginia, West Virginia, New York, Arkansas and North Carolina.

The longhorned tick, during its three life stages can be found on birds, wild and domestic mammals and humans. To date, the tick has been identified on goats, raccoons, horses, cattle, sheep, humans, an opossum, deer and dogs.

The longhorned tick can negatively impact the health of humans and animals both directly and indirectly. Longhorned tick infestations can reach very high numbers on an animal host, which can result in disease and, in some cases, death.

The longhorned tick, in its native range, can carry many pathogens that may cause diseases such as babesiosis, anaplasmosis, theleriosis, ehrlichiosis and Powassan encephalitis in animals or humans. To date, none of these pathogens have been identified in longhorned ticks from North America. However, testing has been limited.

“The preventive measures currently used for our native ticks are the best way to protect yourself and animals from the longhorned tick,” Brown said. “They include frequent tick checks, prompt and proper removal of any attached ticks, avoiding or removing the high grasses or brush where ticks concentrate, and tick treatments.”

Concerns regarding ticks on humans or domestic animals should be addressed through consultation with a physician or veterinarian.

The recent identification of the longhorned tick in multiple states throughout the eastern United States suggests that it is likely established. Many questions remain about the ecology of this tick and the impacts it will have on the health of humans and animals.

The Game Commission will continue to conduct active surveillance for the longhorned tick on wildlife in collaboration with multiple state and federal agencies and academic institutions.

Additional information on the longhorned tick can be found on fact sheets provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Penn State. Longhorned tick questions concerning wildlife should be directed to the Game Commission; humans, Pennsylvania Department of Health; and domestic/agricultural animals, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.