Friday, November 17, 2017

State, Local Officials Tour Elizabethtown To Connect, Walkability, Quality Of Life, Health

State agency officials Friday joined local and Lancaster County officials on a one-mile walk in Elizabethtown to tour the borough’s efforts to improve community health by becoming more pedestrian and bicycle friendly.
Elizabethtown received a $10,000 grant through WalkWorks, a program of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health funded by the Department of Health, to help develop and adopt an Active Transportation Plan.
“It’s common knowledge that we benefit physically when we’re active,” said Acting Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine. “One hour of brisk walking every day can cut a woman’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes in half, and a daily 20-minute walk can cut the risk of dementia by 40 percent.”
Under its plan, every street that is presented for resurfacing in the annual paving program for Elizabethtown Borough is evaluated for safe, convenient, and appropriate vehicle, pedestrian, bicycle, ADA and public transportation activity.
The borough and the surrounding municipalities hope to create a network of trails that would allow for pedestrian and bicycle traffic to travel throughout the entire community.
“This effort is a great example of government that works, with funding supplied by DCNR, DCED, PennDOT, and Lancaster County to undertake planning, trail and park development, and alternative transportation,” Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said.
Elizabethtown has adopted a Complete Streets Policy and Transportation Plan for a pedestrian and bicycle pathway network that has received investments including:
-- A total of $350,000 from the Lancaster County Urban Enhancement Fund and DCED New Communities grant programs from Market St. to the Community Center;
-- Grants totaling $1.9 million from the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Project, and Federal Transportation Administration and PennDOT for a connection to the Amtrak Train Station; and
-- Funds totaling $694,743 from a Smart Growth Transportation and DCNR Community Conservation Partnerships Program for the pathway through Community Park to the Elizabethtown Area School District campus.
Dunn noted that an action step in the statewide Outdoor Recreation Plan is to help communities conduct walkability and bikeability assessments and seek national recognition for those efforts.
DOH and DCNR are part of 12-member interagency team currently working together to advance more walkable communities across Pennsylvania.
WalkWorks is a collaboration of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and DOH.  
Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It can help: Control your weight; Reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers; Strengthen your bones and muscles; Relieve stress and improve your mental health and mood; and Increase your chances of living longer.
Applying For Grants
For information on how to apply for DCNR grants, attend one of DCNR’s upcoming Grant Workshops or webinars in November and December.  Click Here for all the details.
For more information on state parks and forests and recreation in Pennsylvania, visit DCNR’s website, Click Here to sign up for the Resource newsletter, Visit the Good Natured DCNR Blog,  Click Here for upcoming events, Click Here to hook up with DCNR on other social media-- Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.
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Bartram's Garden Receives Cultivating Healthy Communities Grant From Aetna Foundation

Bartram’s Garden in Philadelphia is one of just 25 organizations nationally that has been recognized by the Aetna Foundation’s Cultivating Healthy Communities program.
The Foundation has awarded $100,000 over two years to support the Garden’s innovative education and wellness programs for its Southwest Philadelphia neighbors.
With this generous gift, we will offer a diverse range of programs that support youth leadership, intergenerational community-building, and opportunities to promote outdoor recreation and healthy habits.
Our neighbors will enjoy bicycle rides, free river boating, and our award-winning farm and its focus on food sovereignty.
Says Maitreyi Roy, executive director at Bartram’s Garden, “We are grateful to the Aetna Foundation for acknowledging our work and for helping us to grow with our community. This project lays the groundwork for sharing healthy habits together. We expect to see many more smiling friends and neighbors as they ride bikes on the trail, kayak on the river, and grow their own healthy food.”  
The Aetna Foundation developed the Cultivating Healthy Communities program to enhance a more comprehensive approach to health. Nearly 60 person of a person’s life expectancy is driven by factors outside of the doctor’s office, including many–like social and environmental factors–that are often outside an individual’s control.
This year, Cultivating Healthy Communities awarded $2 million in grants to programs that benefit underserved communities by addressing social determinants of health, improving access to healthy foods, promoting biking and physical activity, and reducing exposure to air and water contaminants.
The grant was announced at the U.S. New and World Report Healthcare of Tomorrow Conference by Mark Bertolini, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Aetna. Locally, the Clean Air Council was also named as a grantee.
For more information on programs, initiatives and upcoming events, visit the Bartram’s Garden website.  Click Here to sign up for updates (below masthead). Follow them on Twitter.  Like them on Facebook. Visit their YouTube Channel.  Click Here to support their work.

Gov. Pinchot's Grey Towers Offers Holiday Programs, Decorated Mansion

Grey Towers National Historic Site, Milford, Pike County, will offer guided holiday tours of all three floors of the decorated mansion from December 4 through 20 at 1:00 and 3:00 p.m.
The 1886 mansion, formerly the home of Gov. Gifford Pinchot, founder and first chief of the US Forest Service, will once again be decorated by members of the Milford Garden Club.
These special holiday tours bring visitors to all three floors of the mansion; the upper floors usually are not open to the public for tours.
On December 16, there will be free musical performances of holiday favorites by students of the Delaware Valley School District.
In addition to the guided Holiday Tours, visitors can enjoy a Holiday Art and Photo Exhibit and Sale, featuring plein air paintings by artists of Come Paint With Me and a juried show of photographs taken by members of the Pike Imaging Council, all creatively depicting Grey Towers and the landscape.
Art work can be purchased through the Grey Towers Heritage Association.
The Grey Towers Interpretive Gift Shop is open from December 4-20 offering a 20 percent discount on most items. The shop includes unique holiday gift items provided by Eastern National Forests Interpretive Association and the Grey Towers Heritage Association.
Guided tour fees: $8 adults; $7 seniors; $5 youth; under 12 free. Reservations are required for groups of 10 or more and are offered before Noon each day that the mansion is open for public tours. We honor Interagency Passes at Grey Towers!
Every Kid in a Park (EKIP) pass: entry is free for fourth-grade pass holder and three family members.
Senior pass: entry is half-price for pass holder only.
Access, Annual and Military passes: entry is half-price for pass holder only.
Grey Towers Heritage member pass: entry is free for pass holder only
For more information or in case of inclement weather, please call 570-296-9630 or send email to: greytowers@fs.fed.us.
For more information on programs, initiatives and other upcoming events, visit the Grey Towers Heritage Association.  Click Here to sign up for updates from the Association, Like them on Facebook, Follow them on Twitter, visit their YouTube Channel, become part of their Google+ Circle and follow them on Instagram.
  Also visit the Grey Towers Historic Site website and the Pinchot Institute for Conservation website for information on its conservation research and policy programs.  Click Here to sign up for the Institute’s regular updates.

Nearly $1 Billion Budget Deficit Projected For Next Year, Legislature Has Surplus, Turzai Joins Race

It turns out it may have been a bit premature to think the revenue and borrowing package signed into law on October 30 would carry the state through 2018-- an election year-- without further revenue “enhancements.”
Thursday, the Independent Fiscal Office issued its Five Year Economic and Budget Outlook report which projects Pennsylvania’s General Fund budget will run a deficit starting at nearly $1 billion in FY 2018-19 rising to over $2.1 billion in FY 2022-23.
Specifically, the IFO projects deficits of $988 million in FY 2018-19; $1.865 billion in FY 2019-20; $1.774 billion in FY 2020-21; $1.784 billion in FY 2021-22; and $2.189 billion in FY 2022-23.
The estimates take into account the revenue and borrowing package signed into law on October 30 which IFO said would generate about $2.3 billion in FY 2017-18.
The “good news,” the IFO said, is these deficits would have been between $800 million to $1 billion a year worse without the revenue package and certain cost containment measures taken this year.  Click Here for more.
State Borrows $1.2 Billion From Itself
Also on Thursday, State Treasurer Joe Torsella announced Treasury received a request from the Governor’s Office of the Budget to draw $1.2 billion from the $1.8 billion line of credit authorized on October 27.  Click Here for more.
State Borrows $1.5 Billion From Tobacco Fund
As authorized by the budget revenue package in October, the Commonwealth Financing Authority Tuesday voted to borrow up to $1.5 billion against future revenues from the Tobacco Settlement.
The CFA action at least temporarily put on pause the $1.2 billion borrow plan Gov. Wolf had proposed by the Liquor Control Board.  But a spokesperson for the Governor said he will support the CFA borrowing as long as it is structured responsibly.
$94.9 Million Senate/House Surplus
Meanwhile, the Senate and House have more money than they can use.  The Legislative Audit Advisory Commission Wednesday released the findings of the FY 2016-17 fiscal year audit of legislative accounts which found a surplus of $94.9 million in Senate and House operating accounts.
At least that’s down from a surplus of $118 million in FY 2015-16, during the longest budget stalemate in the state’s history.  Click Here for more.
Turzai Jumps/Wagner Counters
House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) Wednesday announced he would be running for Governor after all saying Pennsylvania is lacking a leader in the Governor’s Office.  He immediately set out on a short tour across the state.
On the same day, one of his opponents for the Republican nomination-- Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York)-- announced he was endorsed by 64 GOP party leaders.
Like Turzai, the two other announced candidates in the field are also from Pittsburgh-- Paul Mango and Laura Ellsworth.
Meanwhile on the other side, John Fetterman, the “towering, tattooed Mayor of Braddock, PA” (as one newspaper put it) is running for the Democratic nomination for Lt. Governor challenging incumbent Mike Stack (D-Philadelphia).
The other announced candidates are activist Aryanna Berringer, of Westmoreland County, and Chester County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone.  Thinking about running is Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery), a former LaSalle assistant professor, lawyer and progressive.
The only announced Republican candidate for Lt. Governor is Jeff Bartos, who last week appeared with Scott Wagner saying they are running together, even though in Pennsylvania they are elected separately.  Former Rep. Gordon Denlinger, from Lancaster County, said he is considering a run for the Republican Lt. Governor nomination.
Interestingly, the Senate State Government Committee held a hearing this week on changing the way Lt. Governor’s are elected to amend the constitution to have the Lt. Governor run with the Governor on the same ticket to avoid the present confusion of electing Lt. Governor separately.  Three former Lt. Governors and two party chairs agreed the process has to change.
What’s Next?
The House returns to session Thanksgiving week for two days, then does not return to Harrisburg until December 11.  The Senate returns the same day.
The House has two critical issues to address: reauthorization of Pennsylvania’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (by December 31) which became controversial over public funding for surgery to change genders and Workers’ Compensation Program prescription reform.
The other end-of-the year issue is Unemployment Compensation Program call center and back-office computer funding.
Republican House leadership also promised a vote on a natural gas severance tax wanted by Gov. Wolf, but that is not part of the budget agreement.
The House has 11 voting days scheduled in November and December and the Senate has 6, but they are both set to adjourn on December 20 as of now.  Bills do not die this year and continue into 2018.
The Senate has announced it will be in voting session for 42 days from January 2 to June 29 of next year.  The Senate will hold budget hearings from February 20 to March 9.
The Governor’s FY 2018-19 budget address has been announced for February 6, so we can start this all over again.
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DEP/Pittsburgh Water Authority Agreement Could Allow $1.8 Million Investment In Lead Line Replacement

Department of Environmental Protection and the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority Friday entered into a Consent Order and Agreement including a $2.4 million civil penalty assessment for violations related to lead level exceedances, partial lead service line replacements, and unauthorized changes to its water treatment.
Up to $1.8 million of the agreed penalty may go towards community improvements, which could include replacing customers’ lead service lines.   
“DEP is committed to ensuring that consumers have drinking water that conforms to all state and federal standards, but we’ve also placed a priority on long-term improvements to PWSA’s system and assistance to homeowners,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “PWSA’s repeated violations of state and federal drinking water regulations have eroded public trust, and with this agreement and penalty, we want to start restoring that faith.”
This COA directs PWSA to take specific actions, provides deadlines for those actions, and assesses penalties. With respect to any future partial lead service line replacements, the COA requires PWSA to take extra measures to notify residents and conduct sampling if it performs a partial line replacement.
Through this COA, DEP ordered and PWSA agreed to:
-- Notify every owner, resident, and tenant and conduct follow-up testing of the structure when a partial lead line replacement occurs. Provide additional advanced notice prior to the start of any non-emergency partial line replacements and provide water filters and replacement cartridges for at least six months;
-- Submit an interim report to DEP by December 31, 2017 and a final report by March 31, 2018 on the results of the corrosion control feasibility study;
-- Undertake continuous efforts to confirm the composition of service lines throughout its water system with updated reports to DEP over a period of several years;
-- Replace at least 1,341 lead service lines by June 30, 2018 and conduct additional line replacements annually until PWSA’s water meets the requirement for lead; and
-- Report to DEP information on public notices, public education, and compliance every three months.
PWSA is required to submit a detailed proposal for a project, administered by a third party, to provide grant money or low interest loans to low income homeowners for the replacement of private lead lines.
Any funds that have not been used for this purpose in three years must be paid to DEP as a civil penalty assessment.
“Typically, a community environmental project accounts for not more than half of a penalty assessment, but we felt that this situation warranted a much more robust effort to assist homeowners, upgrade the system, and restore public trust in the water that flows from their faucets,” said DEP Acting Southwest Regional Director Ron Schwartz.
PWSA’s system provides drinking water to approximately 520,000 people in the Pittsburgh area including 250,000 residential customers.
In addition to disinfecting water for public consumption, water systems like PWSA must use a specific formula of chemicals designed and approved for their individual system to control corrosion in the water pipes to provide optimal protection against the leaching of lead and copper into the water.
DEP requires studies and permits prior to the use or alteration of any treatment chemicals by a public water supplier.
In April 2014, PWSA substantially modified its corrosion control treatment by substituting caustic soda for the permitted control, soda ash, without notifying DEP or obtaining the required permit amendments.
In 2016, PWSA announced that it had switched back to soda ash for corrosion control.
On April 25, 2016, DEP issued an Administrative Order directing PWSA to investigate lead levels within its system, evaluate the impacts from the change in corrosion control treatment, provide information on its actions to consumers, conduct a feasibility study for optimization of corrosion control treatment, and submit a final report to DEP.
Additionally, PWSA exceeded the regulatory action level for lead during its required monitoring in 2016. These exceedances required PWSA to conduct a materials evaluation to determine the number of lead service lines in the system and to replace a certain percentage of those lines within a year.
PWSA did not submit the proper materials evaluation of the system and instead submitted a “lead service line inventory estimate” of 19,152 lead lines out of the system’s approximately 80,000 active service lines.
Based on PWSA’s estimate, the Authority was required to replace at least 1,341 lead service lines by June 30, 2017, but PWSA only replaced 415 lead service lines, or approximately 31 percent of what was required.
In 2016 and 2017, when PWSA performed non-emergency partial lead service line replacements, it failed to provide 45 days notice for 60 residences, and failed to collect water samples within 72 hours of partial line replacement for 149 residences.  
Partial line replacements can temporarily increase lead levels in the water, and PWSA will be required to take extensive measures to protect the public whenever PWSA conducts a partial line replacement rather than a full line replacement.
Free Testing/Safety Recommendations
PWSA will continue to offer free lead test kits to its customers. DEP reminds consumers of the following ways to reduce lead exposure in drinking water:
-- Flush taps by running cold water for at least one minute prior to drinking or using for cooking
-- Use cold water for drinking, cooking, and preparing food or baby formula.
-- Use a water filter that is NSF-certified to remove lead.
-- Contact PWSA if you plan to replace your side of the lead service line for coordination of replacement of the PWSA portion.
For more information, including past enforcement actions, visit DEP’s Pittsburgh Water Authority webpage.

Wildlife For Everyone Hosts Visit To Tom Ridge & Julian Wetlands Restoration Project In Centre County

DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell and Northcentral Regional Director Marcus Kohl Friday visited the Tom Ridge and Julian Wetlands in Centre County to tour the site and discuss planned environmental recreation improvements with representatives from the Wildlife for Everyone Foundation.
The wetlands were created by PennDOT to mitigate environmental impacts of the Interstate 99 highway project. Once completed, the 135-acre site, including 55 acres of wetlands, was gifted to the Wildlife for Everyone Foundation, which was selected to provide long-term stewardship of the property.
“This wetland mitigation project has been very successful and now hosts a variety of birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and plant species,” said McDonnell. “Wetlands are often underappreciated, but they are some of our most important and multi-functional landscapes. In addition to providing crucial habitat, wetlands also deliver ecosystem services, such as stormwater interception, water purification, groundwater recharge, flood protection, and carbon storage.”
The Foundation is working to create a fully-accessible outdoor learning space and nature observatory to provide the public with an opportunity to connect with nature. Plans for the site include a wildlife center and a mile-long, handicapped-accessible trail with wildlife observation and fishing areas.
“I look forward to returning to this site when this vision is fully realized, and one more vital service is provided here—a place where everyone can connect with and learn about nature,” said McDonnell.
The mission of the Wildlife for Everyone Foundation is to promote wildlife conservation and education in Pennsylvania. Upon acquisition of the property, the foundation dedicated the land to former Pennsylvania governor and honorary board member Tom Ridge.  

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