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Daily Archives: May 8, 2018

State Department of Agriculture Warns Consumers to Discard Tainted Raw Milk from Lancaster County Dairy

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Harrisburg, PA – Consumers who purchased raw, whole milk from Pool Forge Dairy between April 25 and May 7 should immediately discard it. The milk was sold in plastic quart, half-gallon, and gallon containers with the Pool Forge label. Tests completed during routine sampling were positive for Listeria monocytogenes.

The milk was sold at Pool Forge Dairy at 201 Bridgeville Road, Shady Maple Market at 1324 Main Street, and Hoover’s Farm Market at 1719 Main Street. All three locations are in East Earl Township in northeastern Lancaster County.

Listeria monocytogenes can cause Listeriosis, an illness which has symptoms including fever, muscle aches, nausea, and diarrhea. Listeriosis mainly affects pregnant women, newborns, the elderly, and adults with impaired immune systems. Listeriosis in pregnant women can result in miscarriage, premature delivery, serious infection of the newborn, or stillbirth. No reported illnesses have been attributed to the product, but people who consumed the milk should consult their physicians if they become ill.

Application Deadline Looming for REAP Tax Credits to Help Farmers Add Conservation Practices, Improve Water Quality

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Farmers encouraged to apply by June 1; Eligible equipment must be delivered by June 30

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture today reminded farmers of an impending June 30 deadline to apply for Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) program tax credits. The tax credits can help those in production agriculture offset the costs of implementing best management practices (BMPs) or purchasing on-farm conservation equipment. Producers should apply by June 1.

“Agriculture producers are facing tremendous market volatility and uncertainty today. At the same time, our farmers want to be good stewards of our natural resources, and they’re being called on to help restore and protect the quality of our waterways,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “REAP is a way for farmers to make upgrades and improvements that increase their farm’s bottom lines and clean up our waterways at the same time. If you’re an agricultural producer thinking about purchasing new equipment or implementing a BMP and you want to take advantage of REAP, now is the time to act..”

REAP is a Pennsylvania tax credit program for agricultural producers who install BMPs or make equipment purchases that reduce nutrient and sediment runoff, which improves Pennsylvania’s streams and watersheds. The program is administered by Pennsylvania’s State Conservation Commission, which provides support and oversight to the state’s 66 county conservation districts.

 

Farmers may receive tax credits of up to $150,000 per agricultural operation for 50 to 75 percent of the project’s cost. The most commonly approved projects are for no-till planting and precision ag equipment, waste storage facilities, conservation plans, nutrient management plans, and protecting barnyards and other areas with animals. Cover crops and riparian stream buffers are also popular REAP-eligible practices. REAP can be used in conjunction with other funding sources, such as the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) or the Chesapeake Bay Program to help install BMPs.

For projects that include the proposed purchase of equipment, the equipment must be delivered by June 30, 2018. For projects involving the implementation of structural BMPs, all BMPs and BMP components must be complete by June 30, 2019 to be eligible.

REAP applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, up to the June 1 deadline for this year’s funds. The longer producers wait, the less chance they have of securing funding from this year’s allocation, Redding added.

“Governor Wolf and the General Assembly have made a commitment to continue funding the REAP program in this year’s budget,” Redding noted. “They see its value for our farms and waterways, and hear firsthand from farmers who have benefited from the program. I thank everyone who has a hand in this program’s success.”

Private investors may act as project sponsors by providing capital in exchange for tax credits. Any individual or business subject to taxation through personal income tax, corporate net income tax, the bank shares tax or others is eligible to participate in REAP.

Since the program began in 2007, REAP has awarded tax credits to more than 4,800 projects totaling more than $68 million. Public and private investments in REAP have contributed to the conservation projects, worth more than $165 million.

The 2017-18 REAP application packet, as well as other information about REAP, is available on the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s website, agriculture.pa.gov, or by contacting Joel Semke at 717-705-4032 or jsemke@pa.gov. Learn more information about WIP3, Pennsylvania’s Chesapeake Bay strategy by visiting the WIP3webpage.

Dog Wardens to Canvass 36 Counties for Current Dog Licenses, Rabies Vaccinations

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Harrisburg, PA – To help ensure that pets and people are kept safe across Pennsylvania, state dog wardens will conduct dog license and rabies vaccination checks in 36 counties in May. This outreach program helps educate Pennsylvanians about the need to keep dog licenses and rabies vaccinations – for both cats and dogs – up to date.

Counties to be canvassed in May include Adams, Allegheny, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cameron, Centre, Chester, Clearfield, Clinton, Cumberland, Fayette, Franklin, Forest, Fulton, Indiana, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lawrence, Lebanon, Lehigh, McKean, Mercer, Monroe, Montour, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, Snyder, Tioga, Union, Washington, Warren, Wayne, Wyoming, and York. Canvassing began in April and will continue in additional counties in June.

May’s canvassing schedule is as follows:

May 1-4: Adams, Butler, Clinton, Fulton, Lehigh, McKean, Montour, Northampton, and Washington counties

May 7-11: Bedford, Blair, Chester, Lawrence, Tioga, Warren, Washington, and Wayne counties

May 14-18: Allegheny, Cameron, Cumberland, Franklin, Indiana, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lawrence, and Snyder counties

May 21-25: Allegheny, Centre, Lebanon, Mercer, Monroe, Montgomery, and Union counties

May 28-31: Clearfield, Fayette, Forest, Schuylkill, Wyoming, and York counties

Pennsylvania law requires all dogs three months or older to be licensed by January 1 of each year. The fee is $6.50 for each spayed or neutered dog and $8.50 for other dogs. Older adults and persons with disabilities may purchase a license for $4.50 for spayed or neutered dogs and $6.50 for others. Dog licenses are available through county treasurers’ offices.

Additionally, all dogs and non-feral cats three months of age and older must be vaccinated against rabies. Booster vaccinations must be administered periodically to maintain lifelong immunity.

Violators may be cited with a maximum fine of $300 per violation plus court costs.

Dog wardens drive vehicles and wear uniforms labeled with “Pennsylvania Dog Law Enforcement Warden” in a keystone with a state seal. They wear a badge and state identification.

Wardens will request proof of licensure and proof of rabies vaccination. They will leave written notice for someone who is not home, or does not answer the door. Dog wardens will not enter a home or building without the owner’s permission.

U.S. 202 PERIODIC LANE CLOSURES SCHEDULED OVERNIGHTS NEXT WEEK FOR UTILITY IMPROVEMENTS IN CHESTER COUNTY

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King of Prussia, PA – Westtown Township is planning overnight periodic lane closures on U.S. 202 next week between Robin’s Nest Lane and Old Wilmington Pike in Westtown Township, Chester County on Monday, May 14, through Wednesday, May 16, from 8:00 PM to 6:00 AM the following morning, for utility work, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) announced today.

Motorists are advised to allow extra time when traveling through the work area because slowdowns will occur during construction. The schedule is weather dependent.
Westtown Township will complete this project under a PennDOT Highway Occupancy Permit.
US 202 Periodic Lane Closures Chester County.JPG

PENNSYLVANIA AMERICAN WATER TO RESTRICT ROUTE 82/BUSINESS U.S. 30 NEXT WEEK FOR TRENCH RESTORATION IN CHESTER COUNTY

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PENNSYLVANIA AMERICAN WATER TO RESTRICT ROUTE 82/BUSINESS U.S. 30 NEXT WEEK FOR TRENCH RESTORATION IN CHESTER COUNTY

05/08/2018

​King of Prussia, PA – Pennsylvania American Water is planning lane restrictions with flagging on westbound Route 82/Business U.S. 30 next week between First Avenue and Church Street in City of Coatesville, Chester County, on Monday, May 14, through Friday, May 18, from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM, for trench restoration, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) announced today.

Motorists are advised to allow extra time when traveling through the work area because slowdowns will occur during construction. The schedule is weather dependent.
Pennsylvania American Water will complete this project under a PennDOT Highway Occupancy Permit.
Route 82-Business US 30 Travel Restrictions Chester County.JPG

Poll Shows Strong Support for More Education Aid

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Andrea Sears

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Pennsylvanians from both sides of the political aisle support full funding of public education, according to a new poll.

The poll, conducted for the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center by the polling firm TargetSmart, found that almost six in ten respondents favor making full funding of K-through-12 public education a top legislative priority.

According to Ben Lazarus, director of research and analytics at TargetSmart, that includes 76 percent of liberal Democrats.

“The numbers remain well above majority when we look at independents, moderate Republicans and even conservative Republicans, 57 percent of whom want the state Legislature to prioritize improving the public schools,” says Lazarus.

The poll found that 56 percent of all respondents feel the state invests too little money in public education, compared with just 12 percent who think the state spends too much.

Mark DiRocco, head of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators, says the poll results show a growing public awareness that even with recent increases, state public school subsidies are not keeping up with growing costs.

“Consequently you have several school districts around the state who continue not to replace personnel when they resign or when they retire, continue to cut back on programs for kids that are much needed, whether they be reading programs or math programs” says DiRocco.

He adds that one-third of districts responding to an annual survey report they have cut staff, programs or both for the last seven years in a row.

Rich Askey, vice president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, points out that Governor Tom Wolf and the state Legislature have restored much of the billion dollars cut from education funding eight years ago.

“Our next priority is to keep increasing funding for our public schools so that they can start investing in new programs, new resources, and we can add new technologies,” says Akey. “We just need to keep it up.”

The education-funding poll is part of a campaign called “We the People” that the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center and other organizations will be launching later this month.

SEPTA Sued for Banning Ads About Housing Discrimination

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By: Andrea Sears

PHILADELPHIA – Banning ads about controversial issues is a violation of free-speech rights – that’s the claim of a lawsuit filed against the nation’s sixth-largest public transit system.

The Center for Investigative Reporting has compiled data showing racial disparities in home mortgage lending in 61 American cities, including Philadelphia. But when it sought to highlight the results with an ad campaign, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority refused to display the ads on its trains and buses.

Molly Tack-Hooper, staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, says SEPTA’s policies banning ads on political and controversial social issues turn the First Amendment on its head.

“Political speech and public debate get the most constitutional protection,” says Tack-Hooper. “But SEPTA’s policy essentially says the more important the speech, the less SEPTA wants it on its subways and buses.”

She says in letters exchanged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, SEPTA explained its policy as an attempt to keep out hate speech.

But Tack-Hooper points out that the courts already have told the authority it could not ban an anti-Muslim ad campaign sponsored by a group called the American Freedom Defense Initiative.

“Of course, even those AFDI ads, which I think most SEPTA riders would probably agree are racist and gross, didn’t bring the trains to a grinding halt,” says Tack-Hooper. “They didn’t have much of an effect at all on the operation of the transit system.”

She notes that the City of Philadelphia, which controls ad space on city bus shelters, has agreed to display the CIR ads. Tack-Hooper adds that the Transportation Authority has other ways to respond to hate speech in advertising that are far less extreme than banning protected speech.

“For example, SEPTA could use its ad space to put up its own message of tolerance and disavow groups like AFDI that might advertise on SEPTA,” says Tack-Hooper.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvanians Favor Independent Commission to Draw Districts

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By: Andrea Sears

HARRISBURG, Pa. – By a wide margin, Pennsylvanians say they want their congressional district maps drawn by an independent commission rather than state legislators.

recent poll found that 68 percent of voters in the Keystone State favor a nonpartisan process to draw fair maps that will end political gerrymandering in the state. More than half strongly favor using a commission rather than leaving it up to the state Legislature.

According to Micah Sims, executive director of Common Cause PA, the results were consistent across the state.

“Gerrymandering has had such a negative impact on our Commonwealth that overwhelmingly people believe that it’s time to take it out of the hands of politicians and really put it in the hands of everyday citizens,” he says.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court redrew maps when the Legislature failed to create one that didn’t favor a single party. In response, some Republican legislators threatened to remove justices, claiming the court overstepped its authority.

But Sims notes that the citizens of the state disagree with those lawmakers.

“We saw overwhelmingly that the majority of people in Pennsylvania believe that to actually have legislators who want to impeach justices just because of a decision that they did not like is ludicrous,” he adds.

Fifty-three percent of those polled sided with the court while only 24 percent agreed with the legislators.

With Pennsylvania’s primary elections coming up on May 15, Sims says the board of elections has done an outstanding job updating voting information about the new districts, but the new maps alone will not fix the problem.

“The cure to ending the disease known as gerrymandering is actually taking the power out of the hands of the politicians, of the elected officials, and putting it into everyday citizens,” explains Sims.

The poll showed only 22 percent of respondents favor allowing state legislators to draw district lines.