Slocum Township latest stop for Mullery’s ‘One.19’ initiative

SLOCUM TOWNSHIP, April 12 – Continuing ongoing “One.19” constituent and community outreach service, state Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Luzerne, visited Slocum Township.

The lawmaker is visiting all 19 communities of the 119th Legislative District.

Mullery’s day began by meeting Carl Balliet of Carl Balliet Logging & Lumber. The business was established in 2004 and offers a variety of products from green and kiln dried lumber to flooring and molding. Mullery toured the business, and the two discussed several issues including:  workers’ compensation and health insurance rates, municipal and state road bonding, and the struggles and successes of small business in northeastern Pennsylvania.

In advance of Saturday’s trout opener, Mullery stopped at Lily Lake and spoke with a few constituents. Lily Lake is owned by the commonwealth and managed by the Fish and Boat Commission for public fishing and boating.

He next met with Norb Dotzel of Dotzel Trucking & Topsoil. The company is a small, family-run business that offers finely blended topsoil, stone and trucking and hauling services locally and regionally since 1978. Mullery toured the work site, met with several employees and received an overview of the topsoil mining process. Dotzel stressed upon Mullery the importance of technical education for the younger generation.

As a member of the House Education Committee’s Select Subcommittee on Technical Education and Career Readiness, the legislator advised Dotzel of a package of bipartisan career and technical education bills scheduled for a vote next week, including Mullery’s H.B. 2204. Under the bill, the Department of Education and the Department of Labor and Industry would conduct an inventory of existing workforce-development programs at the secondary and postsecondary levels with particular emphasis on opportunities for business-education partnerships with the goal being to share those best practices learned with the various entities to help improve the delivery of career-focused opportunities.

Dotzel also discussed his working relationship with the Department of Environmental Protection and his recent business expansion.

Mullery also met with Paul Gallagher and Mooney Eckrote of Rinehimer Bus Lines. Of particular importance to Rinehimer, Mullery said, is the system established by the commonwealth for hiring and training new bus drivers. The process from date-of-hire to placing a new driver behind the wheel can sometimes take upward of 90 days, he said. Gallagher said that school bus drivers must have a CDL Class B license despite the fact that school buses do not have airbrakes and are smaller than many box trucks that do not require a similarly licensed driver.

“I plan to reach out to the Department of Transportation with their concerns and ascertain whether any changes to the current system are warranted,” Mullery said.

Given the recent discussions of school banding by the Crestwood School Board, Mullery asked Gallagher and Eckrote about the potential costs associated with such a change to their contract. 

“To date, Rinehimer Bus Lines has not been asked to submit a proposal in that regard, and they indicated that such a change would require a thorough logistical study,” Mullery said.

Mullery concluded his day in the township by meeting with township supervisors and leaders of the Slocum Township Volunteer Fire & Ambulance Co. As with many local volunteer units, the township fire company is struggling to attract new members. Mullery inspected the department apparatus and had a lengthy discussion about securing funds for a new garage. 

“Slocum Township has a first-rate volunteer fire company and ambulance squad, but their equipment is packed into the building and not easily accessible,” Mullery said.

He said that his office will work hand-in-hand with township supervisors and fire department leaders in applying for funding.

Mullery said that he intends to stop at all 19 municipalities in his legislative district during the 2017-18 legislative session. He will provide updates of each visit on his website – www.pahouse.com/Mullery – and social media. Constituents can also contact his office at 570-740-7031.

Photos of this week’s visits can be found here.