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Senator Judy Schwank Hello!

It’s been a very busy summer in the 11th Senatorial District! From participating in the Wyomissing Independence Day Parade to visiting farmers in Oley Valley; touring businesses throughout the district, and many things in between, not a summer day went by without great experiences and opportunities to meet with constituents.

I’m heading back to Harrisburg on Sept. 23 as the legislature begins its fall session. We still have some major – and unresolved – issues before us and hope to report positive movement in my next newsletter.

Sen. Judy Schwank

Schools, Schools, Schools

Schools – everywhere – are open again, which means it’s time to pay special attention to how we drive in and around academic and athletic facilities. Our kids aren’t always watching where we’re going, so let’s make sure we’re watching them as we travel about and avoid senseless tragedy.

A Public Education – PLAN

EducationPennsylvania is a big state and one region’s interests are not always the same as another’s. Still, we lack a comprehensive plan to guide us.

I’m working to change that by re-introducing a resolution that would urge the governor to develop that wide-ranging legislative plan and form an advisory commission so we can improve basic education in all of our public schools.

The commission would include parents, teachers, administrators, business leaders, higher ed experts, and state lawmakers who would bring the commonwealth’s multi-faceted issues, needs and wants to the table. We’d look at everything, if my resolution is adopted and the governor creates the panel, including how to change the way we pay for basic education.

We need structure and a blueprint at the state level to make an honest, concerted and consistent effort to make improvements that will benefit students for generations to come and ease the pressure on property owners.

My resolution, which I recently introduced, is SR 184.

Alcohol Awareness

Sen. Judy Schwank announces that Kutztown Borough and Kutztown University were awarded more than $75,000 combined in grants for alcohol abuse prevention.With the start of the 2013-’14 school year underway, it was great to announce the award of new grants on Sept. 3 with the PA Liquor Control Board for alcohol abuse prevention. These important investments will help students and local communities better understand how alcohol can harm them.

Kutztown University is receiving $40,000 for the program while Kutztown Borough is getting a $36,615 grant. The PLCB’s grant to Albright College is for $27,254.  Wyomissing Borough Police Department will receive $24,478.  Penn State-Berks is getting $20,065.

One-hundred-and-fifteen organizations applied for a share of the PLCB’s $2.1 million program. Kutztown’s borough and university, the Wyomissing Borough Police Department, as well as Albright and PSU-Berks are five of the 61 entities that won funding.

Our news conference received some good media attention, including in the Tri-County Record, The Reading Eagle, Keepin’ It Kutztown, The Kutztown Area Patriot, and 69 News WFMZ-TV.

Helping Cities

Senator Schwank and Gov. Tom Corbett

We fought hard for the best interests of Pennsylvania’s struggling cities and came up with a solid new law that could jumpstart economic development. In late August, the governor signed the legislation creating City Revitalization and Improvement Zones, or CRIZ.

House Bill 465, the state’s tax code, creates City Revitalization and Improvement Zones in Pennsylvania. Working in a bipartisan way, I proposed the change to make the zones available to more Pennsylvania communities, including Reading, Lancaster, York and Bethlehem.

The new zones will provide significant economic development and a way out for cities struggling with declining property values, job loss and escalating crime.

I’m working with business and city leaders now to develop Reading’s CRIZ plan.

Helping Seniors

Human ServicesYou might not have ever heard about elder abuse, but it’s a growing problem in Pennsylvania and senior citizens – grandparents, friends and neighbors – are looking for answers. We provided some good information during my Senior Crime Prevention Seminar in Leesport.

We have the third highest percentage of senior citizens in the country in Pennsylvania so we need to take steps every day to make sure our grandparents, friends and neighbors are not falling victim to criminals who want to take advantage of people they think don’t know better.

Statistically, senior citizens often fall prey to identity theft, and charities, telemarketing and sweepstakes fraud. But they are also victims of sexual and psychological abuse and neglect.

Pennsylvania’s fastest growing population is residents who are 85 years old and older.

My sincere thanks to Berks County District Attorney John T. Adams, Berks County First Assistant District Attorney Theresa Johnson, and state Attorney General Senior Public Protection Community Liaison Dave Shallcross for helping me to arm 125 Berks County seniors with information and action steps to better protect themselves.

Helping Veterans

Senator Schwank speaking at Reading City Park Vietnam Veteran's Memorial.

If you are a veteran, or if you know a veteran who needs answers to important questions, call me right away or visit my district office between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. every Tuesday when we host a representative from the Pennsylvania Veterans of Foreign Wars to share information about available services and benefits.

Veterans of all ages and from all service eras are welcome to use this outreach and receive free information and assistance for government benefits, including VA healthcare, compensation, pension, education and dependent benefits. Surviving spouses can also ask these VFW service officers about their eligibility for VA benefits.

Call 717-234-7927 to schedule an appointment. My district office is at 210 George St., Reading. Walk-ins are also welcome.

Helping You

I hope to see you during the evening of Sept. 26, from 7 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. at the Caernarvon Township Social Hall in Morgantown for another of my town hall meetings. Whatever your thoughts, concerns or questions, please come and talk with me and my staff. We will help wherever we are able but can only help if we know what’s on your mind.

This will be a good opportunity to meet with the new constituents of the district.

Helping First Responders

EducationEligible volunteer fire departments, ambulance companies and rescue organizations in Berks County can now apply for new state grants.

Grants can help to pay for the construction or renovation of a fire department or ambulance service facility, the purchase or repair of equipment, debt reduction and the training and certification of members.

Money from the 2013-14 Fire Company, Volunteer Ambulance Service Grant Program is open to career and volunteer fire departments. Generally, grants will range from $2,500 to $15,000.

Whether applying as one unit or as a regional or joint project, these grants will go a long way to ensuring our emergency responders will be there when we call them. Encourage your department to fill out the online application

Helping Me (Help You)

Twitter/FacebookI make it a point to visit all parts of Berks County in the 11th Senate District. Whether it’s at a fair, a meeting or a public event, being available to you is job #1 for me. Communication is key! On that note, I’m working to drum up some more followers on Facebook and Twitter; places we can chat on an almost daily basis. Please follow me for regular updates and comments on what’s happening in the district and in Harrisburg.







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