Jan. 05, 2024

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Capitol Report
Meet our Real-Life Intelligence

If you have not yet met our very own competition to AI (artificial intelligence), please meet Kim Johns! Kim either has the answer, will find the answer, or can connect you to the person with the answer, and there is nothing artificial about her!

Kim is the product of what Jesus can do. A selfless servant, counting everyone as more significant than herself, sharing the love and light of her Savior, Jesus Christ, through the work she does as a wife, mother, sister, friend and public servant. Growing up in a small quaint family with her parents and brother by her side, they lived in the very rural area of Tioga Junction and loved every day of it. She is married to her best friend, Dennis Johns, with five adult children and five grandchildren. They prioritize life with family, and Kim enjoys hosting the family for special occasions and holidays, of which hospitality is that of a servant’s heart.

Kim works tirelessly in our District Office at Wellsboro. She knows what is happening in and out of the office. She handles many state issues with our constituents with poise, patience and perseverance. After a long day at the office, Kim looks forward to getting home to take walks with her daughter, Ashley, and their English Shepherd, Dixie. The fresh Tioga air, exercising of the body, and being with family quickly takes away any stresses she may have had during her day. She relaxes and recharges for the next day ahead, to serve each of you.

Experience doesn't come easily. One must work hard, and Kim has done just that! As a graduate of Mansfield University, Kim started her career in skilled nursing as the director of Social Services. Twenty-four years later, after some brief renewal time with her family, she took a job at a local optician. Chances are, she may have helped to fit your eyeglasses. Eleven years ago, she accepted the position as the district office manager for the Wellsboro office by Matt Baker and we are ever so thankful for her!

I encourage you to stop into the Wellsboro Office to meet our AI counterpart, Kim Johns. She will be sure to solve your problems and may end up being your friend too!
A Commendable Career in Public Service

Dedication, devotion and determination are only a few good words to describe Jane Wetherbee and her service for 38 years as the Register and Recorder Clerk of Orphans' Court in Tioga County. With great honor and gratitude Lauren and I presented Jane with a citation from the House of Representatives just prior to her retirement at the end of this year.

What is it that Jane has seen and done over the last 38 years for our county?
  •   Marriages
  •   Purchases of lands and process of deeds, from generation to generation
  •   Families working through trials and children being cared for through positive guardianship
  •   Families growing through adoptions
  •   Helping loved ones finalize closure of their deceased through registered wills

Take a look through this link at all the ways Jane has helped our county and the numerous resources you may find helpful in deeds, records, wills, marriage licenses and more.

Jane’s devotion to and work for this county duty deserves our utmost respect and gratitude. As you see Jane throughout the town, please be sure to give her a heart-filled "thank you" for her 38 years of dedicated service to Tioga County.
The End of An Era, Thanking a Few Good Men

Last month, Sen. Gene Yaw, my wife, Lauren, and I had the great honor to celebrate the three retiring Tioga County commissioners for their combined 60 years of public service. We are ever so grateful for their many years of commitment and selfless acts of service.

Commissioner Erick Coolidge served as Tioga County commissioner for 28 years. He also continued to lead his family-owned Le-Ma-Re Farm and remained active in his advocacy for our dairy industry. If you ever heard him sing our Star Spangled Banner, you know he also is blessed with a fantastic voice! He is a devout member of the Coolidge Hollow United Methodist Church and Free and Accepted Masons Lodge No. 1147.

Commissioner Mark Hamilton served for 20 years and has been instrumental in the completion of a countywide reassessment. His leadership and countless hours of serving our county is clear in the results of a new 911 center and updated county infrastructure. He has put into action his passion for service as the Assistant Chief of the Big Elm Fire Department and the Mansfield Ambulance Association.

Commissioner Roger Bunn served for 12 years. A dedicated servant to this great nation, he served with honor and distinction as a member of the United States Navy for more than 23 years and a veteran of the Vietnam War. He is very active in his advocacy for our seniors and veterans, as well as public health, housing and more.

It truly is humbling to know and have worked with men of such selfless service and dedication to our county. I am thankful for the last five years serving alongside these commissioners. To understand the diversity of their experiences, passions, and drive, then to have them put forth years of their lives to improve life for those residing in Tioga County, we all should be saying "thank you." Let us learn from their work ethic, faith, and respect for our nation.
The Beginning of An Era

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has a solid history in government of the people, by the people, for the people. Your vote does count. This is the beginning of a new era of public servants who have been chosen by the people, and they took the oath of office last week to serve you.

Sitting in the beautiful Tioga County courtroom, we are surrounded by historic photos of the many judges who have served in this chamber for the safety, peace, and justice of the citizens in our Commonwealth. It was a truly humble sight as I looked to each one of those newly elected public servants, standing with the Honorable Judge George Wheeler presiding, raising their right hand, preparing to take the very serious and virtuous oath, repeating after Judge Wheeler, "I do solemnly swear that I <name> will support, obey and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of this Commonwealth, and that I will discharge the duties of my office with fidelity…"

These elected positions, some paid and some strictly voluntary, are challenging and often thankless jobs.
Please take a moment to recognize the newly installed public servants within our PA House District 68 of Tioga and Bradford counties. These are just some of the officials who the majority of our voters elected to be in office serving our local communities. Please welcome them with respect, kindness and even a helping hand. Links are provided for further information for each office.

Tioga County's Honorable Judge Wheeler presented the oath of office:

Tioga County Commissioners (3 newly elected)
• Sam VanLoon (R)
• Marc Rice (R)
• Shane Nickerson (D)

District Attorney (newly elected)
• Sandra Olson

Register & Recorder (newly elected)
• Keriane Chaborek

Coroner (re-elected)
• James Daugherty

Auditor (2 re-elected)
• Christine Perry
• Elizabeth Craig

Bradford County’s President Judge Maureen Beirne presented the oath of office:

Bradford County Commissioners
• Daryl Miller (R) (re-elected)
• Doug McLinko (R) (re-elected)
• Zachary Gates (D) (newly elected)

District Attorney (newly elected)
• Richard Wilson

Sheriff (re-elected)
• Clinton Walters

Register & Recorder (re-elected)
• Sheila Johnson

Coroner (re-elected)
• James Bowen

Treasurer (re-elected)
• Matthew Allen

Prothonotary/Clerk of Courts (newly elected)
• Tammy Hart

Auditor (2)
• Sebrina Shanks (re-elected)
• Roxanne Gilbert-Wells (newly elected)
108th Pennsylvania Farm Show Underway!

The Pennsylvania Farm Show – the country’s largest indoor agricultural exposition under one roof – is now underway and runs through this Saturday, Jan. 13.

This year’s theme is “Connecting our Communities,” which aims to bring together those who are fed, nourished and enriched by the agriculture industry to those whose lives and livelihoods depend on it.

As always, the show features hundreds of competitions and exhibits, as well as animals and products related to the state’s robust agriculture industry. The annual showcase is a family-friendly event with lots to see and do; and don’t forget to stop by the famous food court for a taste of some Pennsylvania cuisine. I look forward to seeing many of you who are exhibiting, showing, and competing, representing Tioga and Bradford counties within the Commonwealth.

Admission to the show is free, but parking is $15 per vehicle. Shuttle service is provided.

For all the latest news about the Farm Show, follow it on Facebook or visit www.farmshow.pa.gov.
New Funding Supports Emergency Medical Services

The arrival of the new year also brings a much-needed increase in funding for the state’s ambulance companies via a boost in Medicaid reimbursement rates.
Act 15 of 2023 ties the reimbursement rates to federal Medicare rates and pays whichever amount is higher. As a result, the reimbursement for basic life support ambulance trips increases from $325 to $511.35, and for advanced life support ambulance trips from $400 to $607.23 or $878.88, depending on the nature of the call.

The new law also ensures EMS agencies are reimbursed by Medicaid for 100% of the miles they travel with a patient on board receiving care or transport, finally removing the previous exemption for the first 20 miles traveled. The law increases the mileage reimbursement rate from $4 per loaded mile to $13.20 per loaded mile.

This is another important step to support our EMS personnel and their life-saving work.

The reimbursement increases went into effect Jan. 1, pending federal approval.  
College Students Looking for Work?

PennDOT is looking to hire college students to supplement its permanent workforce from May through August.

The job typically entails seasonal maintenance work and sign upgrade services, maintenance and custodial services at roadside rest facilities, and laboring and flagging duties in maintenance organizations and highway worksites.

To be eligible for consideration, candidates must be 18 years of age, enrolled in college for the next semester, and have a valid Pennsylvania driver's license.

The hourly rate is $16.67. Interested applicants should contact my office before Friday, Jan. 19, and also apply online at www.employment.pa.gov. Non-student positions are also available.
Attention Parents and Teachers: Litter Hawk Youth Award Program

Submissions are now being accepted for the 2024 Litter Hawk Youth Award Program, a recognition program for students in kindergarten through sixth grade to share how they help keep Pennsylvania beautiful.

In coordination with the release of the revision of Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful’s popular Open your Eyes to Litter series of books for grades K-6, the theme is: Open Your Eyes to Litter – Show Us What You See.
Students in kindergarten through grade 4 are invited to submit a poster, while students in grade 5 are asked to submit an essay and students in grade 6 should submit a video.

First place and second place winners will receive ribbons and a certificate. All participants will receive a litter hawk sticker. The deadline to participate is Wednesday, Jan. 31. Winners will be announced in May in conjunction with a display of winning entries at the Capitol. For more information and an application, click here.