Legislators Announce Two Projects Approved for State Grants

Reading, September 17, 2019  The Commonwealth Financing Authority approved $252,821 in grant funding through the Greenways, Trails, and Recreation Program to support recreation improvement efforts, according to Sen. Judy Schwank and Reps. Thomas Caltagirone and Mark Rozzi. 

The Commonwealth Financing Authority approved grants for:

  • Reading Skatepark Association, Skatepark Development, $90,000
  • Berks Nature, Rustic Park Pedestrian Bridge Installation, $162,821

“These state grant funds will allow Reading and Berks County to better address the recreational needs of area residents for many years to come,” Schwank said. “I’m glad that we have local groups taking initiative in pursuing these funds.”

“The approval of these funds is great news for Reading and the surrounding communities who will benefit from them,” Caltagirone said. “I commend all involved who worked hard to put together high-quality proposals for these competitive grant funds.” 

“These projects, especially the Skatepark, represent important investments not only in the present needs of our community, but for future generations,” Rozzi said. “Children and residents of the city of Reading and beyond will benefit from this new recreational outlet.” 

The Greenways, Trails, and Recreation Program is funded through the Act 13—Marcellus Shale Legacy Fund and is administered by the Commonwealth Financing Authority.

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Schwank and Rozzi Hosting Free ACA Event Dec. 12, Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner to Speak

Reading, December 5, 2018  − State Sen. Judy Schwank and State Rep. Mark Rozzi are hosting a free Affordable Care Act (ACA) enrollment event from 10 a.m. to noon at the Muhlenberg Township Building at 210 George Street on Dec. 12. Pennsylvania’s Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman will open the event and be available for media questions.

During the two-hour session, healthcare consumers will have access to expert help signing up for ACA coverage only as Medicare enrollment ends December 7. The open enrollment period for ACA ends December 15.

Participants will need documentation to verify his or her annual income (a W-2 or pay stub) and a driver’s license or other government-issued photo ID.

“Access to healthcare is critically important for all Pennsylvanians and increased access to affordable healthcare results in more families living healthier and more productive lives,” Schwank said. “It is my hope that this event gives the citizens of Reading and Berks County another opportunity to sign up for healthcare.”

“We want to make sure everyone has access to the resources necessary to choose the best health care plan for themselves and their families – and the deadline to sign up is approaching quickly,” Rozzi said. “It can seem like a daunting process, but help is available. I’m happy to work with Sen. Schwank to make it easy for local residents to get that assistance.”

Representatives from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Lebanon VA Medical Center will also be onsite to assist any Veterans attending in enrolling in VA health care as well as to provide other informational materials related to VA benefits. Veterans seeking to enroll in VA health care at the event should bring a copy of the DD214, their 2017 tax return and a list of their medical expenses. VA health care enrollment meets ACA coverage requirements and Lebanon VA Medical Center maintains a community clinic locally in Wyomissing. Veterans with any eligibility questions prior to the event can call Lebanon VA Medical Center enrollment specialists at (717) 228-6000.

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Next Phase of Reading Waste Water Treatment Facility Upgrade to Happen with Approval of $37M PENNVEST Loan, Sen. Schwank, Reps. Caltagirone, Rozzi Report

HARRISBURG, July 22, 2015 – The ongoing rejuvenation of Reading’s treatment facilities today counted the approval of a $37.2 million low-interest loan for the replacement of the Fritz Island solid waste treatment plant.

Just as it approved an $84.6 million loan in April for Reading’s wastewater treatment plant, PENNVEST approved the new low-interest advance during its meeting today. The $37.2 million project will also help to protect the Schuylkill River from raw sewage discharges, and it will help to resolve National Pollutant Discharge System violations.

The new project is expected to create 65 construction jobs.

“With hard, diligent work, the understanding of PENNVEST’s board, and the cooperation of the U.S. Department of Justice, it is our pleasure to announce the approval of this new loan to get the Fritz Island solid waste treatment plant working correctly again,” said Sen. Judy Schwank. “Years of neglect jeopardized south Reading and the people living downstream from Fritz Island, but that’s about to change in a big way.”

“We need these funds to make sure Reading residents are protected from pollution and the Schuylkill River flows cleanly and freely,” Rep. Thomas Caltagirone (D-Reading) said. “More than $121 million is being delivered to Fritz Island and the city from PENNVEST, which is the help we need to improve the systems’ ability to deliver great service and to restore Reading’s role as good environmental stewards.”

The 20-year loan carries a one-percent interest rate and it will not impact the rates residents now pay for solid waste treatment.

“It’s a good news kind of day for Reading and its environs,” said Rep. Mark Rozzi. “Not only will raw sewage stop traveling into the Schuylkill during rainy weather and bodies of surface water that support the river be better protected, but residents’ monthly bills will not go up because of this project.”

Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority funding comes from a combination of state funds approved by voters, federal grants to PENNVEST from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and recycled loan repayments from previous PENNVEST funding awards.

Funds are not released until bills for work are paid and receipts are submitted to PENNVEST.

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$84.6M State Investment to Help Reading Better Protect Environment, Create Jobs, Sen. Schwank, Reps. Caltagirone, Rozzi Declare

HARRISBURG, April 22, 2015 – The City of Reading will get a much needed boost in its ongoing efforts to upgrade its wastewater treatment plant, meet the terms of a federal order, and protect the quality of the Schuylkill River with the approval today of an $84.6 million investment by a state agency that’s dedicated to improving the quality of drinking water and local environments throughout Pennsylvania.

PENNVEST approved the low-interest loan during its meeting today. The $84.586 million decision will help the city upgrade its sewage treatment plant and help to resolve National Pollutant Discharge System violations.

The project will also create 140 construction jobs.

“We worked together to get this low-interest loan approved and it will be the residents of the City of Reading who will benefit from an upgraded and properly functioning treatment plant and a cleaner Schuylkill River,” Sen. Judy Schwank (D-Ruscombmanor Township) said. “Tens of thousands of people depend on the city’s treatment plant and need it to enjoy a better quality of life.”

“This vital state investment means Reading will be able to meet the federal order that is requiring the city to have a new treatment plant ready to go in less than three years,” Rep. Thomas Caltagirone (D-Reading) said. “More importantly, it will restore a quality service that is desperately needed.”

The U.S. Department of Justice amended the federal consent decree in February 2014 to give Reading the ability to rebuild the current plant on Fritz’s Island.

“We all live downstream,” said Rep. Mark Rozzi (D-Temple), “so we become better stewards of our local environment and we ensure the sustainability of the Schuylkill River and the Delaware Estuary with this critical state investment. The excellent work between local, state and federal governments is also saving millions of dollars for Reading as we move forward.”

The $84.6 million loan carries a one-percent interest rate and a 20 year repayment plan.

Among other things, the money will pay for the construction of a new pumping station, a primary clarifier distribution structure, the rehab of primary water clarifiers, and the conversion of aeration tanks.

PENNVEST approved a $10 million low-interest loan for the treatment plant project in April 2012.

Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority funding comes from a combination of state funds approved by voters, federal grants to PENNVEST from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and recycled loan repayments from previous PENNVEST funding awards.

Funds for the projects are disbursed after bills for work are paid and receipts are submitted to PENNVEST.

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Schwank, Caltagirone, Rozzi Welcome AG’s Special Reading School District Audit

HARRISBURG, May 3, 2013 – Three of Berks County’s leading Democratic state lawmakers today welcomed Auditor General Eugene DePasquale’s findings of the operation of the Reading School District.

Sen. Judy Schwank and Reps. Tom Caltagirone and Mark Rozzi said the findings, troubling as they continue to be, show that substantial and meaningful change needs to happen now in Reading.

“Unfortunately, mismanagement continues to be as much a part of the Reading School District as reading, writing and arithmetic,” said Caltagirone (D-Reading). “Our kids – the students who walk the halls of every Reading School District elementary, middle, intermediate unit, and high school – must return to be the central focus of how this district performs beginning today.”

“The fact that the auditor general, who is Pennsylvania’s independent watchdog, is pointing to the further evidence of insufficient governance policies is more evidence that the Reading School District needs to get its act together and the board needs to get down to working for the best interests of the children,” Schwank (D-Ruscombmanor Twp.) said.

“Without immediate and lasting change, the Reading School District will cement a reputation that will last generations,” Rozzi (D-Muhlenberg Twp.) said. “That’s very bad news for our children. I strongly implore the school board and the administration to work together like they’ve never worked together before.”

DePasquale’s findings that Reading remains mired in an unending cycle of lapsed teacher certificates, insufficient internal controls and other problems are similar to an audit conducted a year ago by the auditor general’s office.

In January 2012, then-Auditor General Jack Wagner found 14 teachers had been working with improper certification; the district did not properly account or retain records for grant receipts and expenditures; and weaknesses in vendor computer databases could allow for unauthorized changes that could not be tracked.

The district is on the state’s “financial watch” list due to overwhelming deficits in 2012-’13 ($40 million) and in the upcoming fiscal year ($8 million).

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