Senator Stefano E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Bedford Students Become Senators for a Day
  • JoltBike Opens for Business in Fayette County
  • Bedford Reinforced Plastics Celebrates 50 Years
  • Somerset County Student Earns Eagle Scout Rank
  • School Safety Grants Awarded
  • Training PA’s Workforce for Available Positions
  • Increasing the Number of Firefighters in Pennsylvania
  • Spring Gobbler Season Begins April 27
  • April is National Donate Life Month

Bedford Students Become Senators for a Day

Last week, my office hosted our “Senator for a Day” program at Crossroads Bible Church in Bedford. The event brought high school students from Bedford Area, Everett Area and Tussey Mountain school districts together to participate in a mock legislative session where students were able to draft, amend, debate, and vote on their own pieces of legislation. Thank you to the students, advisors and government affairs professionals who made the day a great success, and a special thank you to Somerset Trust Company for sponsoring the event.

JoltBike Opens for Business in Fayette County

JoltBike – an electric bike company and specialty store – cut a ribbon with the Fayette Chamber of Commerce and celebrated the grand opening of their new location last week. The company is focused on promoting outdoor recreation and tourism with this new form of transportation. Congratulations to Steve Smolenski and his team at JoltBike!

Bedford Reinforced Plastics Celebrates 50 Years

On Tuesday, I toured Bedford Reinforced Plastics, a full-service supplier offering an extensive line of fiberglass-reinforced polymer products and services, in Bedford.  This year marks the company’s 50th year in business and they’re celebrating their evolution from operating out of a small barn to housing 200 full-time employees and more than 200,000 square feet of manufacturing and fabrication space at two facilities.

It’s great to see Pennsylvania-made products being shipped out all across the United States and the world, and it’s especially fulfilling to see those products coming out of Bedford County. Congratulations to the Stahl family and everyone at Bedford Reinforced Plastics!

Somerset County Student Earns Eagle Scout Rank

Congratulations to Waylon Nist of Stoystown on earning the rank of Eagle Scout! For his project, Waylon gave Mt. Union Church and Cemetery a “face lift” by painting picnic tables and fence posts and landscaping the entire cemetery.

School Safety Grants Awarded

More than $150 million in School Safety Grants have been approved this week for students across the commonwealth. Pennsylvania’s School Safety & Security Grant Program was originally established in 2018, providing for school entities to be safer places for students, staff and visitors. Most recently through Act 33 of 2023, changes were made to strengthen and expand the program, which is overseen by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, School Safety and Security Committee.

Meritorious Grants ranging from $30,000 to $45,000 were awarded to each of the 497 applicants from all 67 counties that applied. The award amount is based on the school size. Funding can be used to address safety and security through security assessments, violence prevention and all-hazards plans.

Mental Health Grants ranging from $70,000 to $100,000 were awarded to each of the 719 applicants from all 67 counties that applied. These applicants included school districts, area career and technical schools, intermediate units, charter schools, regional charter schools and cyber charter schools. School districts received a base of $100,000 plus a formula amount depending on their school size. The intermediate unit, area career and technical school, charter school, regional charter school or cyber charter school applicants each received $70,000. The funding can be used for school mental health services, training and programs for students and staff.

Additionally, grants were approved through the Competitive School Safety and Security Grant Funding, and Targeted School Safety and Security Grant Programs. Learn more.

Training PA’s Workforce for Available Positions

Complementing Senate Republicans’ efforts to protect Pennsylvania jobs, support is available for community colleges, trade or tech schools, school districts and nonprofits through the Manufacturing PA Training-to-Career Grant Program.

The program is designed to help companies identify and train a skilled workforce for existing positions or ones that will be open soon. It is also designed to advance capacity for local and regional manufacturers and increase awareness of manufacturing career opportunities for youth or those with barriers.

Grants may be used for professional services/consultants, internships, equipment purchases, shop modifications, program development, marketing, domestic travel and salaries. Learn more and apply online.

Increasing the Number of Firefighters in Pennsylvania

The Senate approved a bill aimed at increasing the number of volunteer firefighters in Pennsylvania by reforming the certification process without sacrificing quality or safety.

Current firefighter applicants must complete four training modules totaling 188 hours. They then must pass a cumulative test covering all four modules. Senate Bill 1101 would enable applicants to be tested following each of the four modules.

In the 1970s, the commonwealth had as many as 300,000 volunteer firefighters. There currently are fewer than 38,000 volunteer firefighters in Pennsylvania.

Spring Gobbler Season Begins April 27

On Saturday, April 27, spring gobbler season opens with a half-day hunt for junior hunters and mentored hunters 16 and under. All participants must be accompanied by adults, and hunting hours run from 30 minutes before sunrise until noon.

The regular season runs from May 4-31. Hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise until noon from May 4-18 and 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset from May 20-31.

Approximately 172,000 people hunt spring turkeys in Pennsylvania every year. Last season, hunters harvested about 39,500 gobblers – an increase from 35,700 in 2022 and 28,100 in 2021. Information about spring turkey hunting rules and regulations, for youth and regular hunts, is available here.

April is National Donate Life Month

Making a difference in the lives of others might be easier than you think. With nearly 7,000 Pennsylvanians awaiting organ transplants, donors can save up to eight lives. People donating tissue can enhance the lives of 75 others by helping them recover from trauma, spinal injuries, burns and vision loss.

If you aren’t an organ or tissue donor yet but would like to be, there’s no need to wait until you get or renew your driver’s license, learner’s permit or photo ID. It’s easy to register online to donate.

Misconceptions about organ and tissue donation can discourage people from taking the important step to save lives. Find myths and facts here.


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