Mar. 26, 2024

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A Community Full of Talent

Have you noticed anything different about my Community Connection now that spring has sprung? It’s a beautiful new banner graphic that was designed by my communications team in Harrisburg and a community member of Wellsboro! A very big thank you and recognition to Heather Mee, owner and designer of Wellsboro Woodlands. Heather provided a piece of her photography work with the gorgeous background photo from our region capturing the mountains of Tioga County. Thank you, Heather!
Proposed Frontier Settlement Moves Closer to Final Approval

Many of you have asked for an update on the case involving Frontier Commonwealth. We recently got word that the proposed settlement has been recommended to the Public Utility Commission (PUC) for approval by the two administrative law judges on the case.

It is encouraging to see this case moving forward as I am hopeful it means we are another step closer to ensuring the customers of Frontier Commonwealth finally get the kind of reliable telephone and internet service they pay for and deserve. I’ll keep you posted as the case continues to progress.

Click here to read the initial decision.

For additional information and links to the proposed settlement information, click here.    
Fire, EMS Annual Banquets in District 68

This is the time of year our fire and EMS departments gather their members together to honor, recognize and celebrate the selfless service to our communities. I am always pleased to acknowledge and thank those individuals who devote themselves to assuring the safety of their fellow citizens. Our Commonwealth places high value and gratitude toward those who selflessly serve in ways to protect our people and property. Last week we had the opportunity to present several citations from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives within two local departments.

Liberty Volunteer Fire Company, Liberty, PA
  •   Lee Mitstifer, 50 years of service.
  •   James Baker, 40 years of service.
  •   Christopher Zimmerman, 35 years of service.
  •   Brenda Colegrove, 25 years of service.
  •   Grant Messner, 25 years of service.

Oscoluwa Engine and Hose Company, Troy, PA
  •   Chief Roy Vargeson, 50 years of service.
  •   Tom Close, 50 years of service.
  •   Donald Jenkins 40 years of service.
  •   Kenneth Parmenter 35 years of service.
  •   David Baldwin 35 years of service.

Throughout their tenure, these men and women made themselves available at all hours of the day and night, often at great personal risk, to protect the lives and property of those in our community. They are sterling examples of the most cherished traditions of duty, sacrifice and citizenship and deserve our most heartfelt gratitude. Please reach out to your local fire and EMS departments to share your heart-filled thank you!
Career Day for Bradford and Sullivan County Schools

It is never too early to get connected into the community. The Northern Tier Regional Planning & Development Commission held its Career Day for students in Bradford and Sullivan counties last week. Rep. Tina Pickett and I had a great time exploring more than 30 local businesses and services that were in attendance to provide information, guidance and offer a glance into the future educational needs and workforce opportunities for nearly 900 students.

This event is a win-win for students making important decisions about their futures and for employers who want to ensure they have a quality workforce on hand to grow and sustain their business.

Thank you to all who participated and a special thank you to Towanda High School for hosting.
Great News for Northern Tioga SD

Northern Tioga School District has been awarded a $1.1 million grant through the federal Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) and its Stronger Connections Grant Program.

The grant will allow the school district to maintain its multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) tutors at the elementary schools. Additionally, the funding will be used to provide tutors to both of the district’s high schools, as well as continue to fund the after-school Community College Initiative (CCI) program and summer school transportation.

Read more about the grant here.
Stopping for School Buses

This is a friendly reminder to not only know but also obey the laws on stopping for school buses.

Pennsylvania law requires motorists stop at least 10 feet away from school buses when their red lights are flashing and their stop arm is extended.

Vehicles should remain stopped until the red lights have stopped flashing and the stop arm is withdrawn. Do not proceed until all the children have reached a place of safety.

Penalties for failure to obey school bus safety laws can result in a $250 fine, five points on a driving record and a 60-day license suspension.

Click here for more information and tips on school bus safety.
Tioga County Association of Boroughs Hard at Work

Local borough elected officials have a very large and important job to do. They are placed in office by you, for you. They help the structure and function of our boroughs, creating safe and welcoming communities, economic prosperity and maintenance. It is often a thankless job. I do want to stop and say, “thank you.” They strive to improve your local borough in many facets.

Last week, the Tioga County Association of Boroughs held an informative quarterly meeting, with local and state legislators in attendance. Sen. Gene Yaw was the guest speaker that evening and brought a concerning report on the future integrity of our electric grid. Check out Sen. Yaw’s press release: Shapiro Energy Plan Ignores Looming Crisis for a more detailed look into the supply and demand of current and future power, and how the governor’s recommended policies will create a greater loss of power. Additional information also follows.
Governor’s ‘Energy Plan’ Just Another Tax on PA Families

Pennsylvania is the nation’s largest energy exporter, and we have the potential to do so much more to power not only our Commonwealth but our country as well. However, that potential will never be reached if Gov. Josh Shapiro’s “energy plan” is enacted.

Last week, the governor unveiled a proposal that would remove the Commonwealth from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), but only if the Legislature adopts his own cap and tax plan that would have the same devastating impact on energy growth and production, costing us valuable job opportunities and negatively impacting the energy supply here and across the nation.

The governor’s proposal is just another tax on our hard-working families, and it basically tells energy producers they aren’t welcome here. This plan is bad news for consumers and the Commonwealth.
Small Renovation Project to Impact Hours of Operation at Wellsboro Drivers License Center

Please note, PennDOT plans to perform facility renovation work at its Driver License Center located in , Wellsboro starting next week. The work will require the center to be closed for two business days, which include Friday and Saturday, April 5-6. This closure will impact photo services only.

The center will reopen for normal operations on Wednesday, April 10.

The Wellsboro location is normally open Wednesdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. for full driver licensing services and Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 8:30 4:15 p.m. for photo services only. Due to the Wellsboro closure, PennDOT will be opening the Coudersport Driver License Center, which is located at 1 S. Main St., Coudersport, for an additional photo license service day on Friday, April 5, from 8:30 4:15 p.m. Coudersport currently has normal photo center operating hours on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Don’t Get Fooled; Get the Tools – Sign Up Today

They take your identity, then ultimately bankrupt you. The devastation of having your lifetime of earnings stolen right out from under you by a scam would be horrific. From phone calls to emails, they all sound and appear professional and legitimate, but they are not. Please register here or call our office 570-724-1390 to reserve your seat.

Is Your License Plate Hard to Read? Pre-Register Now!

Have you noticed your PA license plate fading, falling apart? Is it difficult to read? Those hard-to-read PA license plates could cost you a ticket of $100! We are offering you a simple way to have your plate replaced at no charge. Please be sure to pre-register here for your fastest drive through option. Or to make an appointment, call 570-724-1390.

For additional information on PennDOT license plate reissuances, click here for frequently asked questions.

Specialty Crop Block Grant Program Open for Applications

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is inviting proposals for 2024 Commonwealth Specialty Crop Block Grants to stimulate market growth or boost the competitive position for high-priority crops.

Crops eligible for the grant program and deemed “high priority” include hardwoods; honey; hemp and flax for fiber; and hops, barley, rye and wheat for brewing, distilling and malting.

Also targeted for priority funding are crops not eligible for funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which the department administers for the federal government. The USDA program defines specialty crops as, "fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops (including floriculture)."

Eligible applicants must submit a proposal describing how their project will enhance competitiveness or benefit Pennsylvania’s growers, rather than an individual grower. Find more information, including a proposal template, and map of previous recipients at under Commonwealth Specialty Crop Block Program.

Proposals must be submitted through the Department of Community and Economic Development's Electronic Single Application and must be received by 5 p.m. on April 19.
Bills Aim to Support, Promote Startup Initiatives Across Pennsylvania

A group of state House Republicans this week announced a package of bills designed to support and promote startup initiatives across the Commonwealth.

Aiming to capitalize on Pennsylvania’s many assets, including talented, hard-working people and an ideal geographic location, the measures aim to ensure our Commonwealth can compete with the Silicon Valley, New York, Boston and other startup-friendly areas.

The bills would designate March 18-24 as Commonwealth Startup Week; establish the Student Startup Incubator Network to empower student entrepreneurs to build their companies here; establish the Task Force on Startup Venture Opportunities; provide uncapped and non-expiring operating loss deductions to in-state startups; establish the Startup Investment Tax Credit to connect startups to early-stage investors; leverage the power of the Research and Development Tax Credit to incentivize technology research by startups; restore the Commonwealth’s funding for venture investment back to a level commensurate with the technology sector’s importance; and build a robust venture ecosystem in Pennsylvania to develop home-grown startups.
Housing Shortage, Attainability Focus of 12-Bill House Package

A group of House members this week unveiled a package of 12 bills to help more individuals afford and obtain housing in the Commonwealth.

The package focuses on affordability through tax breaks, grants and incentives for both homeowners and builders, as well as reassessing and updating building codes and regulations.

Over the past four years, a lack of supply, coupled with increasing costs for both rentals and home purchases, are making it difficult for Pennsylvanians to find appropriate housing. According to some estimates, Pennsylvania is short 98,000 housing units, and the median new home sale price in Pennsylvania last year was $560,152, which is $130,000 more than the national average. Meanwhile, rent increases have grown so severe that most counties in the Commonwealth have fewer than 30% of renters paying below the recommended 30% of their income on housing.

Access to affordable housing supports stable families, promotes employment, weans those living at or below poverty levels off public support by transitioning them to family-supporting jobs, and supports local economies. In addition, business leaders continue to emphasize the current labor shortage in Pennsylvania is being exacerbated by a lack of housing stock for workers.

More information about the bill package is available here.