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Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: More than $376,000 for programs to address domestic violence and abuse, curb gun violence

(Sep 12, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 12 – State grants totaling $376,741 will bolster Erie programs aimed at reducing gun violence and supporting victims of domestic violence and abuse, state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, all D-Erie, announced today. The funding – administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency – includes three grants totaling nearly $127,000 under the Victims of Crime Act and one grant of nearly $250,000 under the 2019/20 Gun Violence Reduction Initiative. “In addition to helping victims of domestic violence and abuse rebuild their lives, this funding will benefit our entire community by reducing gun violence and the shadow of fear it casts,” Bizzarro said. “The Gun Violence Reduction Initiative being funded is based on a deterrence model that has proven successful by targeting high-risk individuals and groups through direct communication, enforcement and outreach. I’m hopeful that we’ll see meaningful results in Erie.” Harkins added that the funding will also make a difference for those victimized by domestic violence or abuse. “More than anything, innocent residents whose lives have been shattered by domestic violence or abuse need to feel safe and free from the ongoing threat of violence,” Harkins said. “The PCCD funding will go toward programs that help victims free themselves from the specter of ongoing violence or abuse by obtaining protective Read more

Harkins joins workers, advocates to rally on behalf of safety bill

(Sep 11, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 11 – State Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, joined union leaders, legislators and workers’ rights advocates at Philadelphia’s City Hall today to rally on behalf of his legislation that would guarantee Pennsylvania’s public employees the same workplace safety protections afforded private sector workers. Harkins’ H.B. 1082 – the Jake Schwab Worker Safety Bill – would provide a state safety plan to protect Pennsylvania’s 570,000 public sector workers, who, unlike their counterparts in private industry, are not covered by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act. The bill is named for the 48-year-old Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority worker who died after equipment he was using malfunctioned. “It’s hard to fathom that our state’s public employees – including front-line rescue workers who willingly put themselves in harm’s way to protect the rest of us in an emergency – are denied the same basic safety protections afforded private sector employees because Pennsylvania has yet to pass a workplace safety law protecting them,” Harkins said. “Jake Schwab should have gone home to his wife that evening. Instead, he has become a symbol in the fight for equal protection for public workers.” Harkins has been fighting to bring equal safety protections to the state’s public workers for nearly five years. He first introduced the bill the year after Jake Read more

Harkins, Merski: More than $18,000 in funding to benefit homeless children in Erie City School District

(Aug 30, 2019)

ERIE, Aug. 30 – Fifty-two students in the Erie City School District will benefit from $18,605 in funding serving homeless children and displaced youth. The money comes from a federally funded program created to assist local educational agencies serving homeless children and youth displaced by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, or the 2017 California wildfires. “This funding is great news for students in our district whose families are facing extremely difficult circumstances that have disrupted their lives,” Harkins said. “As legislators, we want to do everything in our power to make sure all kids in Erie city schools have an equal chance to learn.” Merski agreed, noting, “As a former teacher, I’ve seen how difficult it can be for kids to learn and achieve when they’re facing homelessness or poverty. This funding should bring a measure of hope and peace of mind to these students that will reduce their stress and uncertainty and allow them to get back to the business of learning and thriving.” Grants were awarded to 17 school districts throughout Pennsylvania with displaced students ranging from 28 to 495 children. Read more

Harkins, Merski: Grant of nearly $170,000 to enhance operations, maintenance at Erie International Airport

(Aug 29, 2019)

ERIE, Aug. 29 – A state grant of $168,750 will enable Erie International Airport to purchase additional vehicles and equipment needed for operations and maintenance, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The legislators noted the funding – which follows last year’s grant of $1.7 million for major renovations to the terminal building – is an important investment for the entire area. “Our airport has played – and continues to play – such an important role in our local economy, dating back to its roots early last century, when it became one of the nation’s first airports to be licensed for commercial operations,” Harkins said. “Today, it’s a thriving hub, supporting businesses, sustaining thousands of jobs, and connecting travelers with the rest of the state and the world. Investments that keep it running smoothly benefit the entire region.” Merski agreed, saying, “I’m delighted Erie International is receiving this grant, which will bolster efficient operations and enable better maintenance to the field’s turfed and paved areas. Travelers to and from our region deserve the safest, smoothest experience possible, and this funding will provide the resources needed to ensure that happens.” The funding is part of a package of grants to 29 airports statewide totaling $13.7 million and funded through the state Transportation Department's Aviation Read more

Bizzarro: Nearly $170,000 to fund new equipment, vehicles for Erie International Airport

(Aug 28, 2019)

ERIE, Aug. 28 – A state grant of $168,750 will ensure that Erie International Airport/Tom Ridge Field continues to operate smoothly and safely, state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, announced today. Bizzarro said the grant will fund the purchase of equipment needed to maintain the airport’s facilities – including the turfed and paved areas – and additional vehicles to support airport operations. “I’m so glad we were successful in our efforts to secure this funding,” Bizzarro said. “Erie International Airport is more than a convenient transportation hub. It sustains hundreds of regional jobs, supports tourism, helps bolster commerce and serves as a connection point to worldwide destinations. Funding to keep it functioning safely and efficiently is one of the most important investments the state can make.” Bizzarro noted that the funding provides an excellent opportunity to build on progress enabled by a $1.7 million grant the airport received last year for a major renovation of the terminal building. The funding is part of a package of grants to 29 airports statewide totaling $13.7 million and funded through the state Transportation Department's Aviation Transportation Assistance Program, Aviation Development Program and the Multimodal Fund. As of April 2019, Pennsylvania ranks 13th in the country in the number of public-use aviation facilities with 127 airports, heliports and seaplane bases. Read more

Merski: School supplies still needed as drive enters final week

(Aug 26, 2019)

ERIE, Aug. 26 – With some area schools starting today and others scheduled for just after Labor Day, state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, is reminding residents that this is the last week of his “Back- to-School Supplies Drive” to help families in need. “We’ve had an excellent response to our school supply drive so far, which is a testament to our community’s wonderful, caring spirit,” Merski said. “In addition to saying a hearty thanks for what we’ve collected so far, I want to remind everyone that the drive ends this Friday, Aug. 30, and that we can still use more supplies. “Although many families try to budget for back-to-school shopping, buying all the necessary supplies can put a dent in tight budgets – especially for families with multiple kids in school. Donating to our drive is a great way to help make sure that all kids in our community start the school year off feeling prepared and confident in the knowledge that they have the tools they need to succeed.” Merski said residents can donate new school supplies to one of these three locations between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.: Merski’s district office, 3901 Liberty St.; his Summit Township satellite office (open Tuesdays only), 1230 Townhall Road W.; or the Belle Valley VFD Station 36, 1514 Norcross Road. Merski said the following items are especially helpful: Markers, including highlighters, color markers, dry-erase markers and Read more

Merski, Policy Committee investigate ways to grow technology workforce

(Aug 19, 2019)

ERIE, Aug. 19 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, held a House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing today at Mercyhurst University to discuss ways Pennsylvania can bolster its technology workforce. “It’s clear that the tech industry is only continuing to grow, fueled by businesses’ demand for state-of-the-art information technology and cybersecurity services,” Merski said. “Cities like Erie are quickly becoming home to startup tech companies that bring jobs and help stimulate the economy.” Joining Merski were legislators from across the state, including Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster. Sturla added: “Companies need highly skilled workers to compete, and bridging the skills gap is especially challenging in the tech field, which is constantly evolving.Today’s hearing on how we can bolster our tech workforce to keep pace with demand was a great first step.” Testifiers included Dr. Leanne Roberts, provost and vice president for academic affairs, Mercyhurst University; Steven Mauro, vice president of academic administration, Gannon University; and Karl Sanchak, president and CEO, Erie Innovation District. The hearing was one in a series being held across the state on House Democrats’ Plan4PA, focused on putting people first by growing good jobs, providing health care access, creating quality schools and providing training for jobs in a fair economy. More information about the plan is Read more

Bizzarro’s Senior Fair attracts large turnout, enthusiastic crowd

(Aug 19, 2019)

ERIE, Aug. 19 – A robust and enthusiastic crowd attended the 7 th Annual Senior Fair & Older Living Expo today hosted by State Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie. Visitors who packed the first floor of McDowell Intermediate High School this morning browsed dozens of exhibits and filled their bags with program brochures, state applications and free samples. Many participated in free health screenings. Bizzarro said he particularly enjoyed getting to talk one-on-one with seniors around the community. “Today’s event was one of our best yet, and that’s a testament to the energy and enthusiasm of the nearly 1,700 seniors who stopped by,” Bizzarro said. “I had the chance to talk one-on-one with so many seniors in our community, and once again this year, they wowed me with their enthusiasm and their insights. “There are few things more satisfying than seeing the folks I serve coming out to engage with the community and knowing that they’re leaving with a feeling that they’ve learned some new ways to enrich their lives.” Bizzarro will join state Sen. Michele Brooks to co-host a similar free event – the Edinboro Senior Fair – from 10 a.m. to noon on Friday, Sept. 27, at the Edinboro Volunteer Fire Department, 125 Meadville St. in Edinboro. Read more

Grant to boost Cambria County tourism, outdoor opportunities

(Aug 10, 2019)

State Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, was proud to help Rock Run Recreation secure a $53,800 state grant to help maintain its 140-mile outdoor recreation trail system. Read more

Bizzarro to host Senior Fair & Older Living Expo Aug. 19

(Aug 09, 2019)

ERIE, Aug. 9 – State Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, will host his 7 th annual Senior Fair & Older Living Expo from 9 a.m. to noon Monday, Aug. 19 at McDowell Intermediate High School, 3320 Caughey Road. The free event will feature about 80 exhibitors, valuable information on state programs, free health screenings, refreshments, door prizes and more. “The fair is one of the most exciting events I host each year because of all the energy our senior community brings,” Bizzarro said. “Erie’s seniors are an active, engaged group who understand that Pennsylvania offers a wealth of programs and services for older adults. The fair provides a great opportunity for them to learn about new and existing programs; pick up applications and brochures; and talk to staff, who will be on-hand to answer questions. “Once again this year, the fair will feature dozens of community exhibitors offering a look at all the latest resources important to older adults – from health, nutrition and fitness, to housing, home care, transportation and financial services. The best part is that every year, seniors come away with a better understanding of how to make the most of their retirement years.” Additional parking will be available in the parking lot adjacent to the Gus Anderson Field, located off Caughey Road, with shuttle service available to and from the fair. Residents interested in learning more should contact Bizzarro’s office Read more