County Living

HomeCounty Living ( September 15, 2021 )

HNB Supports NTIEC With EITC Donation

The Honesdale National Bank was once again authorized to make approved contributions under the Commonwealth's Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) Program. HNB designated $5,000 of their approved allotment to the Northern Tier Industry & Education Consortium (NTIEC), located in Dimock, PA. The funds, donated by HNB, will support educational programs for area youth.

HNB President & CEO David Raven stated, "The missions of NTIEC are not only important for local youth, but the progress of the region through training and education." He said, "We are glad that we can contribute funding for this program to continue to serve our area."

Debra Tierney, Educational Coordinator/Administrative Systems Leader, Northern Tier Industry & Education Consortium, said, "NTIEC is so grateful to the Honesdale National Bank for their generous donation to help our students." She continued "The support we received from the Honesdale National Bank will assist us in running our three week-long summer career experience programs in agriculture, healthcare and energy & oilfield. These summer programs help students explore careers available in NEPA in these three sectors."

The mission of the Northern Tier Industry & Education Consortium is to create a highly-skilled workforce in Northeastern Pennsylvania through the integration of school employment and training processes.

The NTIEC is a local grassroots organization founded in 1993 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit school-to-work organization to serve students in the Northern Tier counties by integrating the education and employment processes. The basic premise is that students who have a good understanding of career opportunities, especially through first-hand experience, can make informed career and educational choices. Students who have mastered basic workplace skills and discipline are in a preferred position for hiring. Employers participate in the education process and benefit by having a stronger pool of employment candidates. Schools can show relevancy of academic work and have more motivated students. Students and parents both benefit by fewer false starts and a shorter path to appropriate degrees and certifications needed for career success.

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Corman Criticizes Gov. Wolf Mandate

Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-Bellefonte) issued the following statement in reaction to the Wolf Administration's school masking mandate:

"Protecting the health and safety of our children is always a top consideration for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. However, this is exactly the kind of government overreach voters opposed when they stripped Governor Wolf of the authority to unilaterally extend emergency declarations in May.

"Throughout the summer, Governor Wolf and Acting Health Secretary Beam were adamant about allowing these decisions to be made at the local level based on the best available data. It is completely disingenuous for him to flip-flop now when he didn't like the choices school districts made.

"The timing of this announcement is also extremely problematic. Over the past month, school board meetings were turned into public spectacles with school board directors, parents, teachers and community members lobbing insults and accusations. It is disappointing Governor Wolf stood idly by and allowed our communities to be torn apart by this debate, only to pull the rug out from everyone at the last minute. Our school boards deserve an apology for the governor's dereliction of duty.

"Our position throughout the pandemic has been consistent – we believe in local control. School districts are best suited to make the decisions regarding the health and safety of students, and they should be empowered to make those choices. Pennsylvanians have clearly had enough of Governor Wolf's damaging mandates and one-size-fits-all approaches to complex problems.

"Moreover, the Acting Secretary of Health does not have the authority to even implement or enforce mitigation measures on healthy Pennsylvanians. If Governor Wolf truly believed he had this authority, then he would not have asked the General Assembly to implement a mask mandate just last week."

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Loans To Spur Job & Economic Growth

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Justin Maxson announced that the department is accepting loan and grant applications for projects that create jobs and economic growth in rural communities.

Funds are being made available under the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDLG) program. Through the REDLG program, USDA provides zero-interest loans and grants to Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Electric Program and Telecom Program borrowers who will use the funds to help local businesses finance projects that will create and retain jobs. Projects must be located in rural areas or towns with a population of 50,000 or less.

Funds may be used to support: business startup costs; business expansion; business incubators; technical assistance feasibility studies; advanced telecommunications services and computer networks for medical, educational and job training services; and community facilities projects that spur economic development.

Eligible applicants include current, former and potential borrowers of Rural Development's Electric Program and Telecommunications Program.

Applications are being accepted continuously with funding competition deadlines on Sept. 30, 2021; Dec. 31, 2021; March 31, 2022; and June 30, 2022.

Applications submitted no later than 4:30pm local time on the deadline dates to the USDA Rural Development State Office where the project is located and will compete for the available REDLG funds in that quarter.

Interested applicants are encouraged to contact their local USDA Rural Development State Office well in advance of the application deadline to ask questions about their project, the program or the application process.

Additional information is available on page 50015 of the Sept. 7, 2021, Federal Register. If you'd like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit the GovDelivery subscriber page.

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Mandate Deprives Community Control

Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin) made the following statement on the school and day care mask mandate issued by the Wolf administration:

"After months of telling Pennsylvanians that mitigation orders are a thing of the past, the Wolf administration once again went back on its word and issued another ill-advised statewide mandate that deprives Pennsylvania communities of local control and community self-determination in public health decisions.

"Data clearly shows that this virus affects different areas of Pennsylvania in dissimilar ways, which is why local control that reflects on-the-ground realities is imperative. History shows that a one-sized, fits-all approach to public health causes more anxiety and frustration than decisions made at the local level with local input.

"What's more is that local control has been working. School boards and local governments have been hearing from families and individuals and making the decisions that best fit their community needs and reflect their community values.

"Unfortunately, the administration has turned a deaf ear to the people of Pennsylvania who passed two constitutional amendments in May that sent a clear message that things need to work differently in this state. House Republicans stand ready to follow through on that and are already in the process of taking a serious look at potential legislative changes that address this administration's misuse of current law.

"We share in the goal of promoting public health and ending this pandemic as quickly as possible. As we review the specifics of this mandate, all options remain on the table. We will continue to exercise the voice of the people in seeking local control in these decisions."

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Farmers Can Apply For Farm Vitality Grant

Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding encouraged Pennsylvania farmers to apply for grants of up to $7,500 through the PA Farm Bill's $1 million Farm Vitality Grant Program for organic transition planning assistance.

"Over the past year while the desire for local and to know where your food comes from grew, the demand for organic increased more than ever," said Redding. "Our mission has always been to help grow opportunities and remove barriers for the industry, which is what the Pennsylvania Farm Bill allows us to achieve. If you want to tap into the opportunity and new markets brought by organic, apply for a Farm Vitality Grant."

Since 2012, the number of certified organic farms in Pennsylvania has increased by 75 percent, from 600 to 1,048, inching the commonwealth closer to making Pennsylvania the nation's leading organic state. The market value of Pennsylvania certified organic products skyrocketed with the number of farms, rising from $78 million to $742 million and increasing the average sales per organic farm from $131,000 to $675,000. With this increase, Pennsylvania ranks third in the nation for organic sales, with nearly 2.5 times the dollar value of sales of New York, the only other state in the Northeast in the top 10.

Pennsylvania's increasing organic production is on-trend with nationwide organic sales, which have also been increasing exponentially year over year. According to the US Organic Trade Association, in 2020 US organic sales reached nearly $62 billion, a record increase of 12.4 percent from the previous year.

With support through the Pennsylvania Farm Bill, Pennsylvania farmers can tap into the ever-growing organic marketplace. The Vitality Grant Program offers $1 million for planning needs, aimed at enhancing the long-term health and vitality of Pennsylvania's farm families. The program funds professional planning services for farms for a variety of needs from generational transition planning to organic transition planning assistance. The maximum grant amount is $7,500 and is limited to 75% of the project cost.

The program open now is the second round for the $1 million program and opened on April 19, 2021. Applications will be accepted until all funds are exhausted. Farmers interested in taking advantage of the Farm Vitality Grant Program for organic transition planning assistance, or for other purposes, can apply online.

For more about investments in growing opportunities and resources for Pennsylvania agriculture through the PA Farm Bill, visit agriculture.pa.gov or follow the Department on Facebook and Twitter.

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Lawsuit Filed To Stop School Mask Mandate

The Amistad Project announced that affiliated attorneys from Dillon, McCandless, King, Coulter, & Graham LLP filed a lawsuit in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania challenging the legality of the statewide school mask mandate issued by acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam.

The plaintiffs include Pennsylvania Senate President pro tempore Jake Corman and State Representative Jesse Topper, both acting in their capacity as parents, as well as Calvary Baptist Church and Hillcrest Christian Academy. Eight other parents of school children, including children with special needs, are also plaintiffs.

Tom King, lead attorney for Dillon, McCandless, King, Coulter, & Graham LLP, issued the following statement:

"This weekend, we filed a complaint against Pennsylvania's Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam to deny the imposition of draconian, unlawful mask mandates that are harming children across Pennsylvania. We filed this lawsuit on behalf of Calvary Baptist Church, Hillcrest Christian Academy, and ten parents of minor children, including children with special needs.

"We are arguing before the Court that Acting Secretary Beam does not have the authority to issue such a mandate under the Disease Prevention and Control Act. Since there is no authority under Pennsylvania law to keep students out of school, Secretary Beam is trampling on the rights of school children and their parents as she denies them the right to attend school in person. This type of regulatory overreach cannot stand in a free country."

The state has until September 8 to respond to the lawsuit, and a court hearing is scheduled for September 16.

For more information about The Amistad Project, please visit: http://theamistadproject.org/.

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Learn By Serving As A Local Poll Worker

Acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid encouraged all eligible Pennsylvanians to learn more about elections by signing up to be poll workers in their county for the November 2, 2021, election.

"Poll workers play an integral role in the electoral process and support state and county election officials as they protect the integrity of elections," said Secretary Degraffenreid. "Serving as a poll worker is one of the best ways for Pennsylvanians to learn firsthand how elections are run."

Taking part in poll worker training and then assisting voters on Election Day will provide a deeper understanding and appreciation of the detailed planning and careful processes that are part of every election, Secretary Degraffenreid added.

"Here in Pennsylvania and across the nation, there is a serious shortage of poll workers," Secretary Degraffenreid said. "Working at the polls is a great way to be civically engaged and be of service to your community and to your friends and neighbors as they exercise their right to vote."

Find more information and submit an interest form at votesPA.com/getinvolved.

In general, poll workers must be 18 years old and registered to vote in the county in which they want to serve as a poll worker. Exceptions to the age requirements exist for high school students who are at least 17 years old and who want to serve as poll workers.

Poll workers receive training from and are paid by their county. Some counties need multi-lingual poll workers to provide language assistance at polling places to voters who have limited English proficiency.

"Anyone who cares about trust in elections should step up and help at the polls," said Secretary Degraffenreid. "I know from my years of working as an election administrator that helping run an election is an incredible learning experience and, ultimately, a reassuring one, learning about the many ways our elections are protected."

For more information on voting in Pennsylvania, visit votesPA.com.

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Senator Baker Offers Statement

Senator Lisa Baker (R-20) issues the following statement:

"Governor Wolf has once again decided that his view is superior to that of school officials, business operators, parents, and state legislators. For weeks, school officials and parents have had serious discussions about how to fairly balance public safety responsibilities with parental rights. Now that those difficult decisions have been hammered out, district by district, Governor Wolf is moving to erase those efforts from the blackboard.

"Only days ago, the governor requested legislators to approve a statewide mandate. Our response was that we were placing trust in the leaders with the most direct line of responsibility for running public schools. As is typical, legislative viewpoint does not factor into the governor's decisionmaking.

"His action appears to be an attempt to end run the limitations on any governor's emergency powers the voters recently approved adding to the state Constitution.

"It is a simple thing to impose a mandate. It is much harder to gain widespread compliance and to figure out how to handle the consequent protests and determine whether violations are purposeful or accidental.

"Area residents recall that Governor Wolf's preference for state mandates during last year's lockdown provoked considerable opposition in this region. The reason is crystal clear – the hardships experienced by workers and employers, with many jobs lost and businesses closing, especially small businesses and mom-and-pop operations central to our communities and neighborhoods. The administration was secretive in developing mandates then and inconsistent in applying them. It is hard to see how this will be any better in that regard.

"As with any policy dispute or concern over exceeding lawful powers, this matter is likely to quickly move to the courts for resolution."

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PA Lottery Offers 2nd Chance Drawings

THE BIG GAME Second-Chance Drawing from the Pennsylvania Lottery is now open to players, offering a chance to win an Ultimate Trip and Prize Package to Pro Football's Biggest Game of the Year in Inglewood, CA, on February 13, 2022.

Between now and October 7, 2021, players may enter any winning or non-winning PICK 2, PICK 3, PICK 4, PICK 5, Treasure Hunt, Cash 5 with Quick Cash, Match 6 Lotto, Cash4Life®, Powerball®, Mega Millions® and Keno Draw Game tickets purchased in store from a licensed PA Lottery retailer.

Fast Play and Xpress Sports games and any Draw Game tickets purchased online are not eligible for entry into this Second-Chance Drawing.

However, players should note, between September 2 and September 29, 2021 there will be a separate Online Prize Drawing that will allow Draw Game tickets purchased online only to be eligible for entry for a chance to win tickets to Pro Football's Biggest Game of the Year. Purchase amounts of $2 or more of Powerball®, Mega Millions® and Cash4Life®; and purchase amounts of $1 or more of Treasure Hunt online may be entered for a chance to win this ultimate prize package.

Ten winners will be selected from all entries by the Pennsylvania Lottery: eight from the Second-Chance Drawing and two from the separate Online Prize Drawing. Each prize winner receives a trip for two that includes round-trip airfare, hotel accommodations (double occupancy) for four nights, $1,000 spending money, tickets to the 2022 Championship Game, and four special events hosted by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Enter through the VIP Players Club at palottery.com or scan-to-enter using our Official App after reviewing entry instructions, prize details, rules, restrictions, and drawing information. Winners will be announced at palottery.com.

Enter tickets as soon as possible after play and please play responsibly. Mailed or late entries are not accepted. Games will remain for sale after the second-chance promotion ends.

The logos associated with the Professional Football Hall of Fame, alone and in combination, and the words "PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME", are trademarks or registered trademarks of the National Football Museum, Inc., and are used here with permission. All rights to the use of these marks are reserved. Unauthorized use is subject to civil and criminal penalties.

The Pennsylvania Lottery remains the only state lottery to direct all proceeds to programs that benefit older residents. Since ticket sales began in 1972, it has contributed more than $32.6 billion to fund property tax and rent rebates, transportation, care services, prescription assistance, and local services including senior centers and meals.

Visit the Winners and Benefits pages at palottery.com to review how much money each county receives in Lottery prizes and funding to benefit older Pennsylvanians.

Players must be 18 or older. Please play responsibly. Call 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) for help with a compulsive gambling problem.

Visit palottery.com for winning numbers, rules, chances of winning, and to join the VIP Players Club to play online or enter for second chances to win. Install our Official App, like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @PALottery. Use the hashtag #palottery to share your messages with us.

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The COVID-19 Slide

Submitted by Kelly Hall, Community Services Coordinator

The start of the school year is just around the corner. Stores are having back to school sales,

Fall sports are starting practices and the AmeriCorps-Seniors Foster Grandparent volunteers are getting ready to head back to school.

This year the "Summer Slide", when kids lose significant knowledge in reading and math over summer break, may be greater than in previous years. Remote learning, decreased instruction time, and fewer personalized interactions with teachers may cause widespread learning loss, also referred to as the "COVID-19 slide."

Mentoring programs are one of many ways to assist students in recovering from the "Summer Slide" and the "COVID-19 Slide". Mentoring has long been a way of assisting students who need extra assistance and provide young people with personal, academic and professional benefits.

The AmeriCorps-Senior Foster Grandparent Program is a volunteer mentoring program that can assist our community's schools and children. Classroom Foster Grandparent volunteers provide love and guidance to children and youth with special and exceptional needs at volunteer stations across Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna and Tioga Counties. Classroom Foster Grandparents work one on one and in small groups under the supervision of a classroom teacher.

To become a Classroom Foster Grandparent volunteer one needs to be 55 or older, be income eligible and enjoy working with children. Classroom Foster Grandparents receive a small stipend, clearances, travel and training. Classroom Foster Grandparents can serve from 5 to 40 hours per week.

For more information on the AmeriCorps-Seniors Foster Grandparent Program and other B/S/S/T Area Agency on Aging, Inc. services please call 1-800-982-4346. The B/S/S/T Area Agency on Aging, Inc. is funded in part by the Pennsylvania Department of Aging. The Foster Grandparent Program is sponsored by the B/S/S/T Area Agency on Aging, Inc. and federally funded by AmeriCorps. Funding also provided by the Bradford County United Way, the Susquehanna County United Way and the Lycoming County United Way serving.

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State Dept. Absent At Election Hearing

As the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee began its investigation into the 2020 General Election and the 2021 Primary Election, key witness testimony was missing due to the refusal of Department of State officials to participate.

The Pennsylvania Department of State was invited more than a week ago to provide testimony regarding the timing and impact of election guidance issued to counties, including controversial guidance issued on the eve of the 2020 General Election that provided a partisan advantage for Democrats and directly contradicted a Pennsylvania Supreme Court opinion.

"The power to issue a subpoena isn't unlimited, and we have to ensure sound legal footing before we go out on that limb," Senator Cris Dush said. "In addition, we have to be ready, willing and able, to actually review and utilize meaningfully any information that we receive in response to our subpoenas. Having a hearing like the one we're having today allows us the room to satisfy all of those considerations."

Fulton County Commissioner Stuart Ulsh testified the guidance was "overwhelming for a small county with a small staff" and caused a significant burden on county election officials.

The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP) shared similar sentiments in written testimony provided to the committee: "In the months leading up to the November 2020 election, counties struggled to keep up with the ongoing (election-related) litigation…and with the guidance issued by the Department of State." CCAP went on, stating that the counties "also experienced confusion because it was often unclear what statutory basis the DOS guidance had, and how much was truly guidance and/or best practices."

According to CCAP, "this ongoing uncertainty in the weeks leading up to the November election left numerous questions and anxiety and forced counties to pivot multiple times and up to the very last minute, while also managing the pressures of a highly visible presidential election in the middle of a pandemic."

The public hearing kicked off the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee's investigation into the state's election system.

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