HARRISBURG, March 29 – State Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, announced today that Parks Township has been awarded a state grant for water improvement projects in its municipality. Parks Township will receive $105,918 to replace 1,250 linear feet of water line along Clarion Avenue. "This grant will help the township improve its efforts to provide public water to its residents," Petrarca said. "The existing water line on Clarion Avenue, installed more than 50 years ago, is unlined cast iron pipe and its corrosion over the years has reduced water flow. This project, which also will complete a distribution loop, and eliminate two dead ends, will improve water quality." The Small Water and Sewer grants are awarded by the Commonwealth Financing Authority to help with the construction, improvement, expansion, rehabilitation or repair of a water supply or sanitary sewer system. The CFA is an independent state agency that administers several funding programs designed to help grow Pennsylvania’s economy, create jobs, and improve cultural and recreational assets in communities statewide. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 29 – State Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, announced today that Derry Borough has been awarded a state grant for water improvement projects in its municipality. Derry will receive a $223,890 Small Water and Sewer grant to make electrical upgrades to its water treatment plant. "This grant will help the borough improve its efforts to provide public water to the community," Petrarca said. "The electrical upgrades are necessary to ensure the plant is able to continue operation, as its electrical system, originally installed more than 50 years ago, has exceeded its lifespan." The Small Water and Sewer grants are awarded by the Commonwealth Financing Authority to help with the construction, improvement, expansion, rehabilitation or repair of a water supply or sanitary sewer system. The CFA is an independent state agency that administers several funding programs designed to help grow Pennsylvania’s economy, create jobs, and improve cultural and recreational assets in communities statewide. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 22 – State Rep. Joseph A. Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, voted in favor of legislation that would increase the annual income limit for retired people to qualify for vehicle registration fee exemption. “Thousands more of Pennsylvania’s retired residents would qualify to pay only $10 per vehicle per year, instead of the usual $36. This bill is welcome news; the income limit has not been raised for almost 20 years,” Petrarca said. Under H.B. 188, which was approved 186-11, any person who is retired and receiving Social Security or other pension with a total annual income of up to $23,500 would qualify for the reduced vehicle registration fee. This would be an increase of more than $4,000 over the current income limit and make nearly additional 130,000 retirees eligible for the program. Petrarca said that during the last 15 years, senior citizens have received different adjustments to their retirement plans that have elevated their income over the eligibility limit for this program by a narrow margin, which makes this bill necessary. “We want to make sure that, after all those years of hard work, service and dedication, we provide the resources our senior citizens deserve,” Petrarca said. The bill (H.B. 188) has been sent to the Senate for consideration. Read more
Trout season in Pennsylvania officially begins at 8 a.m. April 15. But young anglers can fish for free on April 8 -- the Saturday before the opening day. Mentored Youth Fishing Days provide an opportunity for youth and their adult mentors to fish for trout. It is a great opportunity to share the joy of fishing with younger people to help keep the tradition alive in Pennsylvania. To participate, adult anglers must have a valid fishing license and trout/salmon permit and be accompanied by a youth. Youth anglers must obtain a free PFBC-issued permit or a voluntary youth fishing permit license. Both are available at www.GoneFishingPA.com or at any of the more than 900 licensing agents across the state. For others considering fishing, the state offers two "Fish-for-Free" days – Sunday, May 28 (Memorial Day weekend) and Tuesday, July 4 (4 th of July holiday). My three district offices also have copies available of the 2017 Pennsylvania trout stocking schedules, which also are available here or with the PFBC's "FishBoatPA" mobile app. This year’s stocking lists include Keystone Select Stocked Trout Waters, a program where 14 waters across the state will be stocked with a total of 4,500 large, 14- to 20-inch trout. Loyalhanna Creek is one. Check here to see the list of waters. Read more
Rep. Joseph Petrarca reminds residents that March is the last month to apply for heating assistance through LIHEAP, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Read more
Rep. Joseph Petrarca announces that the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Latrobe was awarded an $805,000 state grant to improve safety aspects of the main apron ramp.
Rep. Rep. Joseph Petrarca announces that the Latrobe Center for Active Adults will receive a $76,717 state grant through revenues provided by the Pennsylvania Lottery.
Rep. Petrarca reports that his offices in Vandergrift, Derry and Latrobe have federal and state income tax forms and applications for the state Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program available for constituents. Read more
As many of you may know, several of Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Compensation Service Centers were forced to close in December due to a lack of funding. This has forced the remaining centers to handle the same workload with fewer resources. As a result, many claimants are facing long waits and delays in service. Unemployment compensation service center employees are handling as many calls as possible each day, with millions of attempts made by claimants to reach a service center representative. I, like many of you, are upset and frustrated by the delays everyone is facing. No one should have to wait days or longer to get answers to their questions about their claim. Last fall, the House voted (including me) to keep these centers open, but the Senate failed to act on the bill. I am working to get this corrected as soon as possible, but in the meantime, here is some information from the PA Department of Labor and Industry to help those dealing with unemployment in getting quicker and more complete results. If a caller doesn’t receive a busy signal and is put through to the hold queue, they can expect to wait at least three hours to speak to someone. To mitigate caller frustration and to improve chances of getting through, we advise callers to call in the afternoon on call days – Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. If put in the queue but not serviced that day, the caller will receive a call back from a service representative that evening Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 9 -- State Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, said 23 fire and ambulance companies in the 55 th Legislative District will be sharing $308,865 in state grants. The grants are from Pennsylvania's Fire Company and Volunteer Ambulance Service Grant Program. The grants are funded from gaming revenue and property tax relief funding. "Our fire departments and emergency service providers often spend countless hours fundraising to ensure their equipment and training are up to date so they can help keep us safe," Petrarca said. "These grants help our first responders focus on their service to their communities, which is why this program is so vital. I was proud last summer to vote to extend this program for an additional four years." Grant recipients and amounts awarded in the 55 th District are as follows: Armstrong County Apollo Volunteer Fire Dept. Hose Co. No. 2 -- $12,358 Leechburg Volunteer Fire Co. -- $11,844 Lower Kiski Ambulance Service Inc. -- $13,902 for the fire company; $7,448 for EMS Parks Township Volunteer Fire Dept. -- $12,101 Indiana County Saltsburg Volunteer Fire Dept. -- $12,873 Westmoreland County Avonmore Volunteer Fire Dept. -- $11,844 Bell Township Volunteer Fire Dept. -- $12,616 Derry Volunteer Fire Dept. -- $12,358 Derry Township Volunteer Fire Dept. No. 1 of Bradenville -- $12,873 Free Service Fire Unit No. 6, Read more
HARRISBURG, Jan. 23 – State Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, has been reappointed Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee for the 2017-18 legislative session. "I am pleased to continue as chairman of this important committee," Petrarca said. "As chairman, my priorities remain the advancement of legislation that will protect Pennsylvania residents and communities, and address issues regarding the judicial and criminal justice systems. "As one of the busiest committees in the House, the Judiciary Committee has hundreds of pieces of legislation referred to it each session." The committee reviews all legislation relating to aspects of the civil and criminal court systems, law enforcement and corrections. The committee also oversees the state police, Attorney General's Office, Department of Corrections, State Ethics Commission, Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing and the Municipal Police Officers Education and Training Commission, among others. The committee also is responsible for evaluating prison staffing and inmate populations and housing conditions. Petrarca said that as chairman, he will continue advocating for seniors, children and victims of crime, as well as law enforcement, to help make Pennsylvania a safer and better place to live, work and raise a family. Prior to becoming chairman of the Judiciary Committee in 2015, Petrarca was Read more
HARRISBURG, Jan. 4 – State Rep. Joseph Petrarca announced today that Westmoreland County Commissioners have been awarded $50,000 from the state Department of Community and Economic Development to update the county's comprehensive plan. "It's been more than 10 years since the county's last plan was written and a lot can change in a decade," said Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana. "This grant will help the county 'reimagine our Westmoreland' to address the challenges facing it regarding an aging workforce and investigate ways to attract and retain a stable population that enhances our communities and economy." According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Westmoreland County's population is declining. Its population estimate in 2015 was 357,956, compared to 365,169 in 2010 and 369,993 in 2000. A comprehensive plan serves as long-range plans and goals for the county in its future growth and development, and offers strategies to implement them. The updated plan is expected to address the county's residential, transportation, development and employment needs. Several public meetings were held in late 2016, and more are planned in early 2017. The updated comprehensive plan is expected to be completed in early 2018. The county's first comprehensive plan was written in 2005. Read more
HARRISBURG, Jan. 3 – At a state Capitol ceremony that opened the 2017-18 legislative session today, Rep. Joseph Petrarca was sworn into office to represent the 55 th Legislative District, which includes portions of Westmoreland, Armstrong and Indiana counties. "It's an honor to represent the 55 th District and those who live in it," Petrarca said. "It's been my goal to represent the interests of those I serve, even when those interests buck the status quo, and this term will be no different. "I've opposed tax increases because our region can't afford to take on more of the state's financial responsibility, and I've worked to maintain and create jobs. As Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, I've forwarded legislation to make our streets safer, while also protecting those who protect and serve. "Seeing medical marijuana authorized in the state was a particularly proud moment for me last year. Now families with children who have disabling diseases and conditions, can get the palliative care they need to help alleviate their children's suffering," he said. "All of these issues and more, including the ongoing budget deficit and state's pension crisis, are on my radar in this session." Today's swearing-in ceremony marked the beginning of the 201st session of the General Assembly. The oath of office was administered by Northampton County Judge Craig Dally. Petrarca is Read more
All dogs three months or older must be licensed by Jan. 1 of each year. Violators can be cited with a maximum fine of $300 per violation plus court costs. An annual license is $8.50 and a lifetime license is $51.50. If the animal is spayed or neutered, the annual fee is $6.50 and lifetime is $31.50. Discounts are available to older adults and people with disabilities. The small license fee helps the millions of dogs in the state by funding the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement. Dog licenses are available from your local county treasurer and other licensing agents. Reasons for dog licensing: It’s the law. All dogs three months or older must have a current license. If your dog gets lost, a license is the best way to get him back. A license helps animal control and shelters identify your dog and get him back home safely. The cost of a license is less than the penalty for being caught without one. Owners who fail to license their dogs could face a fine of up to $300 for each unlicensed dog. License fees support animal control. The annual fee you pay to license your dog helps keep shelters running and supports the work of the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement, which is responsible for ensuring the welfare of dogs, regulating dangerous dogs and overseeing annual licensing and rabies vaccinations. Read more
VANDERGRIFT, Dec. 13 – State Rep. Joseph Petrarca announced today that state grants have been awarded to Derry Township and Avonmore from the Community Conservation Partnerships Program. Derry Township Municipal Authority received $474,000 to develop 4.7 miles of trail from Keystone State Park to New Alexandria Borough. Avonmore received $10,000 to help with a structured community planning effort to rehabilitate and further develop the 10-acre Pasternak Recreational Area. "Green space and recreation opportunities can contribute to a happier quality of life, and these grants will help area communities enhance those prospects for their residents," said Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana. The work at Pasternak Recreational Area will include site development, the construction drawings and budget, and bid packet. In addition to construction of the Loyalhanna Trail, the funding will cover Americans with Disabilities Act access, landscaping, project signage and other related site improvements. The state's Community Conservation Partnerships Program is administered by the Bureau of Recreation and Conservation in the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. It uses funding from a variety of state sources, including the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund (Key ’93); the Environmental Stewardship and Watershed Protection Act (Growing Greener); the Act 68 Snowmobile and ATV Trails Fund; the federal Land and Water Read more
LATROBE, Dec. 2 – State Rep. Joseph Petrarca today toured Quality Mould Inc., with Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin. Quality Mould received a $190,000 low-interest loan from the state last fall to expand the Unity Township business, retaining and creating jobs. "It was a pleasure to show DCED Secretary Davin firsthand what QMI has accomplished with investment from the state," Petrarca said. "It demonstrates the ingenuity of our region and that we're doing our part to increase economic development and job opportunities in the area." During the tour, Petrarca and Davin observed the company's day-to-day operations, discussed the impact of the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority loan and learned about the company's job creation efforts. The loan was just part of the company's $1.67 million expansion plans, which included a 33,000-square-foot building, warehouse racks, a crane, compressors, air-drying system, and creating and retaining jobs, to enable it to keep up with customer demand. As a result, Petrarca said, the company has retooled and streamlined its manufacturing process, and positioned itself for new markets. "Quality Mould is doing well and is an example of how well industry can do in our area," he said. Quality Mould was established in 1983. It is a multi-functioning, six-axis precision machine shop located in western Pennsylvania that produces a wide Read more
If you’re a hunter, you may have heard of the Hunters Sharing the Harvest Program , which allows sportsmen to donate all or a portion of their hunting harvest to local families in need. One deer can yield up to 200 meals, and last year Pennsylvania hunters donated 100,000 pounds of meat to the program! You can click here to find a participating deer processor. There is no cost to donate all or a portion of your harvest. You can learn more about the program here . If you’d like more information regarding how you can give back through the Sharing the Harvest program, or if you need assistance with any state-related issue, please feel free to contact any of my office s . Read more
HARRISBURG, Nov. 14 – To show solidarity with children experiencing homelessness and the educators who serve them, state Rep. Donna Bullock’s House resolution adopted last month encourages Pennsylvanians to observe this week as "Pennsylvania Education for Youth Experiencing Homelessness Awareness Week." A Capitol news conference today marking the week featured advocates and House members discussing the issue. Pennsylvanians are urged to wear a red shirt on Friday for "Red Shirt Day," which encourages schools and communities to support assistance programs for children experiencing homelessness and brings awareness to the issue. In the 2014-15 school year, data show that 26,273 students in Pennsylvania schools were homeless or without adequate housing. This represents a 9 percent increase from the previous school years. Also, the number of homeless students has risen 18 percent in the last two years. “We are bringing awareness to the prevalence of children experiencing homelessness and to the barriers that prevent them from attending school,” said Bullock, D-Philadelphia. “School is often the one constant in the lives of children moving from house to house, couch to couch, or shelter to shelter. And it's important to not interrupt their education." “In Pennsylvania, there are few resources available to kids who experience homelessness, including a shortage of affordable housing and assistance providers Read more
In observation of "Pennsylvania Education for Youth Experiencing Homelessness Awareness Week" state Rep. Joe Petrarca says he participated in a Capitol news conference to encourage schools, communities and others to support assistance programs for children experiencing homelessness and brings awareness to the issue. Read more
DERRY, Nov. 11 – State Rep. Joseph Petrarca and other state and local officials officially dedicated the new Derry Veterans Memorial Bridge earlier today. The newly built bridge, which carries Route 217 over the Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks and Second Street in the borough, was dedicated shortly after a ribbon-cutting ceremony and parade over the bridge. "Naming this bridge in honor of our veterans is a way for us to recognize the men and women who serve and sacrifice on our behalf to ensure our safety and freedom," said Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana. "Generations of Americans have enjoyed freedom because of the strength and courage of those willing to fight. They did their duty. Without our veterans, we do not know where we might be today and we should never forget them for preserving our way of life. This Derry Veterans Memorial Bridge will be a constant reminder of that and honor those in our area for their service to our country." Petrarca introduced the bridge-naming measure on behalf of Derry Borough Council, Chestnut Ridge Post 444VFW and the Derry Area Revitalization Corp. It became law in June. The $9.9 million project to replace the old Derry Borough Bridge began in spring 2015 and was completed this fall. Read more
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