Senator Ward, J E-Newsletter

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August 9, 2019

New Law Will Reduce Long-Term Borrowing Costs to Taxpayers

It is critical for elected officials to serve as good stewards of taxpayer dollars, including minimizing long-term costs to the state. A new law approved by the Senate in June will help state government pay off debts more quickly and save money on interest costs.

The law changes the way that state bonds are issued to ensure debts are repaid in equal amounts over the term of the bond. This approach will help pay down the principal of bonds faster, which will not only save taxpayers money over the life of the bond, but also help improve the state’s bond rating. This change offers a more responsible approach to managing the Commonwealth’s debt load and reduce the debt we pass on to future generations.

More information about the new law is available here.

I appreciated the chance to participate in National Night Out events in Altoona and Duncansville, which are designed to help build stronger bonds between local police and the communities they protect.

Grant Awarded to Boost Public Safety in Fulton County

A $1.5 million grant for the Fulton County 9-1-1 Center will help improve public safety by replacing existing radios for first responders, including the remote tower site radios, mobile radios in fire trucks, ambulances, and law enforcement vehicles, and the first responders’ portable radios and pagers.

The project is expected to help improve emergency response and address some of the challenges that these communities face due to the numerous ridges and valleys in the region. More information about the grant is available here.

It was a pleasure to speak with Ms. Veteran America 2019 contestant Lori McMath Varner and Veterans Leadership Program of Western PA Communications Coordinator Melissa Ernst.

Meals on Wheels Volunteers Needed

Blair Senior Services, Inc. is seeking volunteers to help deliver meals to seniors as part of the organization’s Meals on Wheels program. Volunteers are needed to deliver meals in the Tyrone area on Mondays and Wednesdays and in Roaring Spring on Fridays.

Individuals who are interested in volunteering can contact Chelsey Rhodes by calling 814-946-1235 for more information.

On behalf of my colleague Senator Wayne Langerholc and myself, I had the honor of presenting a Senate Citation recognizing the 50th anniversary of Lehman Engineers, based in Hollidaysburg.

Grants Available to Support Rail Freight Projects

Rail freight is a vital part of our economy and an important component of Pennsylvania’s transportation infrastructure. The Rail Transportation Assistance Program and the Rail Freight Assistance Program help to preserve essential freight service and support rail projects throughout the state.

The application period for rail freight grants is open now through 4 p.m. on August 30. More details about the program are available here.

During the celebration of the American Legion Centennial in Blair County, I had a chance to visit with the Patterson Family from Hollidaysburg, who devote a great deal of time to the American Legion and veterans causes.

TV Feature Highlights Ritchey’s Dairy in Martinsburg

I enjoyed a great tour of Ritchey’s Dairy in Martinsburg with my colleague Representative Jim Gregory to learn more about how this business is using a Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority loan to expand in our community.

Highlights from our tour are available in the TV feature below:

August 2019 - Ritchey's Dairy

State Funding Supports Old Turnpike Bike Trail

An abandoned stretch of the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Bedford and Fulton counties will be converted into a bike trail with the help of a $1 million grant from the state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program to the Bedford-Fulton Joint Recreation Authority.

The project will include converting 8.5 miles of the old turnpike between Breezewood, Bedford County, and Taylor Township, Fulton County, into a bike trail. Plans include a new pedestrian bridge over Route 30 in Breezewood and the restoration of the former Cove Valley Travel Plaza in Fulton County, both of which would serve as trailheads.

More details about the project are available here.

A recent permit awarded for Meadow Grounds Lake will clear the way for this great source of recreation to be restored in the near future. I appreciated the chance to tour the area recently with Anthony D’Anna and Dayton Tweedy, board members of Friends of Meadow Grounds Lake.

I had a chance to spend some time with the 2019-2020 Huntingdon County Fair Queen, Emma Watkins, when I visited the Fair.

Grant Program Helps Businesses Reduce Energy Costs

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection recently began accepting applications for the Small Business Advantage Grant Program, which assists businesses and farmers in implementing projects to trim energy costs and reduce pollution.  The program provides a 50 percent matching grant of up to $7,000 toward energy efficiency improvements on systems such as lighting, heating, cooling, as well as building insulation projects.

Grants are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, so businesses that are interested in the program should apply as soon as possible. Applications and more information are available by visiting

Congratulations and best wishes to Stephanie Branche, who stopped by my McConnellsburg office to talk about her new business in Fulton County – “Stephanie’s Party Planning and Catering Service.”

What an amazing time in Greencastle for the Old Home Week Parade! Here are a few sights from the parade.

Rescue Hose Company had a classic engine and pumper in the parade.

I also rode in the parade with Franklin County Commissioner Bob Thomas.

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