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Senator Judy SchwankHello friend. The holiday season brings forth many memories. The remembrance of this particular holiday season will be forever marred by the senseless violence at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. My heart and sympathies go out to the children, families and all the residents who have been impacted by this unfathomable tragedy.
We can’t make sense of such unspeakable evil and we don’t know yet all of the facts of how and why this could have happened. Nevertheless, we can pledge to renew our efforts to make our children and communities safer and to truly examine the factors that motivate someone to commit such horrific acts.

For all the latest news and events in the 11th Senatorial District and in Harrisburg, visit my website, my Facebook page and Twitter page.


Reading Crime Summit Planned for January

Reading is in a difficult position right now. Criminal activity and violence are on the rise, yet we have a police bureau that has some 50 fewer officers than it had only a few years ago. It is a tremendous gap to close in a very challenging time both fiscally and in terms of crime.

We clearly need to have an open and honest discussion about crime in Reading and the need to bring in more resources and services to assist the city.

I am joining state and local officials to host a crime summit on Jan. 18 in Reading to address our city’s problems and seek out real solutions that will bring peace to our streets. The governor and federal, state, and local officials are expected to attend.

I’m confident that this crime summit will be the first step toward tackling Reading’s issues. Stay tuned for more information about this upcoming meeting.

Sandy Packs Punch in Berks; Met-Ed Provides Update

power linesI recently met with executives from Met-Ed, including company president Mike Doran, to review the company’s performance during Superstorm Sandy; specifically the areas served by the McKnight’s Gap Substation and the 19th and Cotton Substation.

More than 105,000 Met-Ed customers in Berks County were affected by Sandy. The utility replaced 1,040 poles, 550 transformers, 2,530 cross arms and 113 miles of wire. That’s more than twice as many poles, transformers and miles of wire as Hurricane Irene and the October snowstorm of 2011 combined.

McKnight’s Gap substation, which serves a portion of the College Heights area in Reading as well as Lower Alsace and Alsace townships, was out of service during the storm because both its transmission feeds were down.

The 19th and Cotton substation, which serves east Reading and Mt. Penn areas, experienced several outages during the days that followed Sandy.  These outages were caused by different problems at different locations – all outside the substation itself.

Since the storm, Met-Ed has not only replaced or repaired the conditions that caused the power outages; the company has also fortified the lines that bring power to the substation.

Met-Ed said it plans to invest more than $200,000 in the 19th and Cotton substation in 2013 with the installation of automated equipment that will, in many cases, minimize the number of customer affected and the length of future outages.

In addition, Met-Ed has made substantial investment in the McKnight’s Gap substation this year, including installing new technologies, repairing cross arms, installing more fuses and adding more fault finders to the two distribution circuits coming out of McKnight’s Gap. Comprehensive tree trimming and/or removal was completed on these two circuits this year as well.


Property Tax/Rent Rebate Deadline is Dec. 31

housesThe filing deadline for senior citizens and other individuals eligible for the 2011 Property Tax and Rent Rebate is Dec. 31.

This program has provided beneficial property tax relief to many individuals and families, so I encourage eligible folks to apply now. Last year alone, 18,906 eligible Berks County residents received a rebate, totaling nearly $9.2 million in tax payer relief for our county.

The Property Tax and Rent Rebate Program provides financial assistance for homeowners and renters who are 65 years or older, widows or widowers over the age of 50, and permanently disabled persons over the age of 18.

The program’s income eligibility limit for qualifying homeowners is $35,000. The rebate ranges from $250 to $650 depending on the individual’s gross income. Some homeowners may receive larger rebates than requested, based income and/or property taxes, because they may qualify for a supplemental property tax rebate up to $975. Qualifying renters must have an income under $15,000 and their rebate ranges from $500 to $650.

Also, I caution seniors to be vigilant of organizations requesting payment for completing the application. It is important for seniors to be aware that this rebate can be completed and forwarded free of charge at my district office, as well as other state agencies.

For additional information or help completing the Property Tax or Rent Rebate application, contact my office at 1940 N. 13th St. in Reading, or by phone 610-929-2151.

Farm Show Celebrates PA Agriculture

PA Farm ShowPennsylvania’s agricultural industry will be on full display at the 97th annual Pennsylvania Farm Show, which will take place Jan. 5 to 12 at the Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg.

It is the largest indoor agricultural exposition in the country and it will showcase nearly 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and 300 commercial exhibits.

Admission is free and parking is $10. I’m looking forward to seeing our local farming families at the farm show, and I hope to see you there!

Flu Cases Rising in PA; Get Vaccinated

flu shotThe Pennsylvania Department of Health is reporting that there has been a significant rise in influenza activity across Pennsylvania since Thanksgiving. The flu made an appearance earlier this year than in most flu seasons, as widespread activity is usually not seen until January.

If you have not gotten a flu shot yet, please consider getting vaccinated as soon as possible. Schedule an appointment with your health care provider today or view the flu locator to find a flu clinic in your area.

The Department of Health recommends the flu vaccine for everyone over the age of 6 months, but the vaccine is especially important for the elderly, pregnant women, and people with chronic health conditions that place them at increased risk of complications from the flu.

In addition to getting vaccinated, take common sense precautions to keep it from spreading to others, including covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, staying at home when ill, washing your hands often with soap and water or using alcohol based hand sanitizers, and cleaning and disinfecting high use surfaces.






Video on child protection bills PennDOT website Reading School District website Video of Senator Schwank's budget response Senator Schwank's floor remarks Voter ID web page PA Farm Show website