Latest News

Bizzarro: More than $264,000 in grants to protect and restore Lake Erie Coastal Zone, area natural resources

(17 hours ago)

ERIE, Oct. 22 – State grants of more than $264,000 will fund projects to protect and restore the Lake Erie Coastal Zone and preserve other area resources, state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, announced today. The grants – from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection – will fund multiple projects related to bluff erosion, shorebird monitoring and research of geographic sources of E. coli contamination at Presque Isle State Park beaches, among other projects. “Lake Erie and Presque Isle State Park are natural gems that provide unique recreational and tourism opportunities, but they’re also more than that,” Bizzarro said. They’re natural features that define our regional identity. That’s why it’s so important to protect them for future generations. “That’s not a simple task – it involves monitoring and preserving delicate ecosystems, land structures and wildlife. In some cases, it also involves eliminating dangers, such as harmful bacteria that has at times restricted swimming at Presque Isle. The funding announced today will allow us to continue being good stewards of the lake while also addressing and overcoming these challenges.” Bizzarro said the grant money will go to the following recipients for the following projects: Erie County $70,000 for coordination and technical assistance with Lake Erie Coastal Zone Read more

Merski: Committee approves bill to allow Sunday hunting

(1 day ago)

ERIE, Oct. 21 – Pennsylvania is one step closer to Sunday hunting after the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee approved a bill that would lift an existing prohibition, according to state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie. Senate Bill 147 – approved 21 – 4 – would authorize the state Game Commission to decide whether to allow hunting, lifting a ban that prohibits Sunday hunting. “I’m encouraged by the vote today,” said Merski, who sits on the Games and Fisheries Committee. With life as busy as it is, Sunday is sometimes the only free day to get out and enjoy nature. Today’s action would give Pennsylvanians a much-deserved chance to enjoy the sport they love.” The bill would provide hunting on three Sundays – one during rifle season, one during archery season and one Sunday to be determined by the state Game Commission. The bill now goes to the House chamber for a vote. Read more

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $53,000 to fund Erie school safety resources

(Oct 18, 2019)

ERIE, Oct. 18 – Erie schools are receiving three grants totaling $52,850 to fund safety-related upgrades, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The legislators said the funding includes $24,240 to the Erie City School District for security-related equipment, $24,935 to Erie County Technical School for security-related equipment, and $3,675 to Bethel Christian School for safety-related programs. “After 20 years in the classroom, I know from a teacher’s perspective how important a secure, supportive learning environment is to allow kids to focus, thrive and learn,” Merski said. “The funding announced today is great news for our schools because it allows them to move forward with specific plans they’ve developed to promote this kind of environment.” Harkins agreed, adding, “School safety is about protecting our kids’ physical well-being, but it’s also about making sure they feel secure. The resources made possible by these grants will help keep fear out of the classroom.” The grants are part of a package of $7.2 million in competitive 2019-20 Safe Schools Targeted Grants from the state Department of Education. The funding – awarded to both public and non-public schools throughout the commonwealth – is designed to help schools prevent or curb violence, purchase safety and security-related equipment, Read more

Bizzarro: $9,000 grant to fund safety-related programs for Millcreek schools

(Oct 18, 2019)

ERIE, Oct. 18 – Millcreek Township School District will receive a grant of $9,000 to fund safety-related programs, state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, announced today. “No parent should ever have to worry about sending their child off to school, and no student should feel at risk walking in school halls or sitting in class,” Bizzarro said. “Unfortunately, the realities of the modern world demand that we be proactive and take steps to ensure students and the staff who work with them stay safe. The grant announced today will fund programs that allow Millcreek students to continue learning in a secure, nurturing environment free of fear.” The grant is part of a package of $7.2 million in competitive 2019-20 Safe Schools Targeted Grants from the state Department of Education. The funding – awarded to both public and non-public schools throughout the commonwealth – is designed to help schools prevent or curb violence, purchase safety and security-related equipment, and provide for the training and compensation of school resource and police officers. A list of grant recipients and amounts is available by visiting the Office for Safe Schools webpage on the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s website . Read more

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: $32 million loan to ensure safe water supply for Erie

(Oct 16, 2019)

ERIE, Oct. 16 – A $32 million low-interest loan from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority will ensure that Erie residents continue to enjoy reliable access to safe drinking water, state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, all D-Erie, announced today. The loan to Erie City Water Authority will fund projects that enhance service for more than 57,000 residents. “Ensuring a safe, reliable water supply depends on smooth, coordinated functioning of multiple systems, from pumps and chlorination equipment to treatment, testing and storage facilities,” Merski said. “This funding is essential to help us address long-standing issues such as pump stations that are at the end of their useable lives and an 80-year-old treatment plant building long overdue for upgrades.” Harkins agreed, noting, “The water authority has already invested more than $60 million in upgrading filtration equipment and standby power. The new financing builds on those improvements by addressing plant infrastructure issues, remedying code violations and expanding water storage to ensure Erie and surrounding towns have a plentiful, continuous supply.” Bizzarro added that the funding allows Erie to continue to fulfill its most important duties to residents. “Safeguarding public and community health is the No. 1 priority for government,” he said. “The funding Read more

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: $500,000 grant brings Erie closer to becoming ‘smart city’

(Oct 10, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 10 – Erie is one step closer to becoming a “smart city,” thanks to a $500,000 grant that will fund the city’s broadband deployment program and provide free public Wi-Fi access, state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, all D-Erie, announced today. The grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission will expand Erie’s “Secure Smart City Pilot” – a project launched last year to help the city use electronic data collection to better manage resources, fight crime, and improve efficiency. “I’m especially excited about how this program is going to make us a safer community,” Harkins said. “I have been working with law enforcement for some time on this project, and this infusion of funding is going to enhance security in areas that are prone to crime. We’ll be seeing urban security solutions that include traffic monitoring, analytics that can be tracked on a visualization dashboard, and better lighting, including the ability to remotely control streetlights.” Merski noted that the technology also will enable Erie to save money and operate more efficiently. “The theory behind smart cities is that they use information t echnology to capture data that can pinpoint exactly where resources are needed,” Merski said. “That allows us to target specific areas needing assistance while reducing wasteful spending. It Read more

Merski to host Medical Marijuana Forum Oct. 16

(Oct 09, 2019)

ERIE, Oct. 9 – Erie residents can learn more about the state’s Medical Marijuana program by attending a free forum hosted by state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie. The forum will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16 in the first-floor community room at 100 State St. Local experts will discuss how the program works, what conditions it covers and how to register and participate, among other topics. A question-and-answer session will follow. “Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Program has brought relief to thousands of patients suffering from intractable pain and other problems related to serious medical conditions,” Merski said. “Because the program can meaningfully improve quality of life for those suffering, I want to be sure everyone in our community who might benefit is aware of this resource and understands how it works.” Merski noted that the program covers 23 serious medical conditions, including anxiety disorders, autism, cancer and remission therapy, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, and others. He added that there are at least 25 physicians in Erie who are approved to certify patients for participation. Residents wishing to learn more about the forum should call Merski’s office at (814) 455-6319. Read more

Harkins, Merski: Grant will bring urban agriculture to the classroom

(Oct 02, 2019)

ERIE, Oct. 2 – Erie students will soon get hands-on experience with urban agriculture thanks to a $825 microgrant that will fund supplies and equipment for 14 school gardens, according to state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie. The funding – part of the first round of Pennsylvania Farm Bill grants – will allow the Erie City School District to purchase soil, seed trays and hydro domes to create starter plants for the gardens. “Some of the best lessons are those that allow kids to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty,” Harkins said. “For city kids, planting seeds, watching them sprout and harvesting food they’ve grown themselves teaches about the life cycle in a way no book can. It also shows that you don’t need a lot of land to create a peaceful, productive green space.” Merski agreed, noting, “A well-rounded education isn’t just about teaching kids math and reading – it’s about allowing them to cultivate life-sustaining skills to help address food insecurity and empower whole communities. Those are skills they will carry with them their whole lives.” The grant is part of a package of funding to benefit 28 projects in various counties statewide and comes from the Urban Agriculture Infrastructure Grant Program, part of the state’s first-ever Pennsylvania Farm Bill. Read more

Bizzarro bill to improve charitable fundraising heads for House vote

(Sep 19, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 19 – Legislation that would help non-profit organizations host more successful fundraising events for charity is heading to the House chamber for a vote after being added to another bill approved by the House Liquor Committee today, state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, announced. Bizzarro’s H.B. 1406 would address a major obstacle affecting nonprofit organizations hosting charitable fundraising events: A provision of the state Liquor Code governing special occasion permits prohibits the companies these non-profits hire to plan and organize the events from managing the funds. As a result, the fundraisers are not as efficient or successful as possible. Bizzarro said his legislation would change all that. “Non-profit organizations such as churches and community groups often turn to event planning and organizing companies because of their expertise when it comes to fundraising events,” Bizzarro said. “Unfortunately, the law prevents these organizers from managing the funds, which greatly affects the success and efficiency of these events. My legislation would remove that obstacle by permitting event organizers and planners to collect and manage the funds as long as the non-profit organization is the primary host of the event and the funds are being raised for a charitable purpose. “I’m delighted that this legislation is advancing to the House. Successful fundraising events are Read more

Harkins: $190,000 grant to fund improvements to McClelland Park

(Sep 17, 2019)

ERIE, Sept. 17 – New walkways and structures will allow Erie residents to more fully enjoy a popular community park, thanks to a $190,000 grant from the Commonwealth Financing Authority, state Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, announced today. Harkins said the grant to McClelland Park will fund multiple improvements, including the installation of an ADA-accessible land bridge to be constructed across a stream in the park’s eastern section, the construction of a 240-foot boardwalk to improve accessibility over wet ground, and the addition of two gazebos, two pavilions and signage. “I’m thrilled about this funding,” said Harkins. “McClelland Park is a very special place in our community – one that brings residents together to socialize, to exercise and to forge friendships. By funding new structures and creating easier access to park areas that were difficult to navigate, the grant will allow visitors to enjoy this special place from a new perspective.” Harkins noted that the funding was awarded by CFA under the state’s Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program. The total project cost is $201,358, and the city will use the $82,671 land value as match. More information about the CFA is available at the agency’s website . Read more