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Investments For Coatesville Announced March 20, 2019

The Chester County commissioners, joined by Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) general manager Jeff Knueppel, recently announced details of major investments that are designed to boost public transportation, economic development and community services in the city of Coatesville.

At a briefing held at the location of Coatesville's proposed new train station, Commissioners Michelle Kichline, Kathi Cozzone, and Terence Farrell noted the many city, county and state initiatives and efforts that have come together - and are expected to continue to come together - to strengthen Coatesville's neighborhoods and its downtown.

Headlining the list of the commissioners' announcements is Chester County's agreement with SEPTA to bring back the regional rail service to the city of Coatesville that ceased operation in 1996. The proposed new service will extend SEPTA train operations beyond the current terminus in Thorndale to a new station in Coatesville. Service will begin when construction of the new train station is completed by PennDOT.

The design for the new Coatesville Train Station is well underway, and PennDOT anticipates that the station project will be completed within three years of the start of construction.

The county commissioners also announced funding of $1 million in community revitalization funds for the city, to be used to kickstart the parking garage project that is part of the train station development.

The commissioners also noted further commitments, including funding for infrastructure improvements, affordable housing projects, education, training and job creation opportunities and access to community programs and services.

Work on the First Avenue and Lincoln Highway intersection is just beginning through $1.7 million in Chester County Community Revitalization Program funds, and $750,000 was provided late last year by the county to purchase the new Chester County OIC offices and to make major renovations to the Coatesville Library.

In March, a Coatesville Community Connections service was slated to set up shop in the Coatesville Library with a "community connector" who can help all individuals and families to find crucial services such as food, rental and utility assistance; housing; child care; jobs; transportation; health and dental programs; and CHIP information. The service is administered by the Maternal and Child Health Consortium and funded by the Chester County Department of Human Services.


County Receives Farm Preservation Funding March 19, 2019

At its recent meeting, the Pennsylvania Agricultural Land Preservation Board awarded Chester County the highest level of funding, $3.74 million, to preserve farmland on two Chester County farms. The state board announced an overall spending threshold of $38 million for the purchase of development rights from 38 farm owners state-wide - the highest spending total in more than a decade.

Chester County's award of state funds, added to certified county funds of $5 million for farmland preservation in 2019, positions Chester County as a state leader in funding for agricultural land preservation.

Since the start of Chester County's agricultural land preservation program 30 years ago, more than 40,100 acres of farmland have been preserved. Factoring in current agreements of sale, the number exceeds 41,200 acres. Last December, Chester County preserved its 500th farm.

According to Commissioner Kathi Cozzone, Chester County's agriculture industry generates more than $600 million in revenue each year. Commissioner Terence Farrell noted that the county has invested $106 million in farmland preservation over the course of 30 years.

The nine-member Chester County Agriculture Land Preservation Board (ALPB) guides the county on farmland preservation and reviews applications from farm owners.

The ALPB is now accepting applications for farmland preservation. Farms of 10 acres or more are eligible if they are adjacent to permanently preserved land. Farms not adjacent to permanently preserved land need to be a minimum of 50 acres in size for the commonwealth program and 25 acres in size for the Challenge Grant Program. The deadline for Chester County's Farmland Preservation application is Thursday, Aug. 1.

For more information, readers may visit or contact Geoff Shellington at or 610-344-6504.


Ceremony Will Honor Bixler March 19, 2019

State Rep. Kate Klunk will be joined by local elected officials to dedicate the Valley Street bridge in Glen Rock to U.S. Army Warrant Officer Martin E. Bixler, who was killed during the Vietnam War. The ceremony will be held at the bridge starting at noon on Friday, March 29, which is National Vietnam War Veterans Day.

Bixler was killed after the UH-1 Huey helicopter he was flying was shot down in Tay Ning Province in 1968. He was 21 years old. Bixler was awarded the Silver Star, Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Distinguished Unit Citation, Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation and Good Conduct Medal.

The public is encouraged to attend the ceremony to honor Bixler. Attendees are asked to bring lawn chairs. Parking at the York County-owned bridge is limited, but additional parking is available at Glen Rock American Legion Post 403, 4035 Manchester St. A free shuttle bus to transport attendees to and from the Legion will be in service from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Those who use the shuttle serve are asked to be at the shuttle stop no later than 11:30 a.m. or 3:30 p.m.

A reception will be held at the Legion immediately following the ceremony. Questions about the ceremony may be directed at Klunk's office by calling 717-630-8942.


Tax Assistance Program Posted February 22, 2019

Rep. Andrew Lewis will team up with the AARP Foundation to offer tax assistance on Tuesday, March 5, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the West Hanover Township Parks and Recreation Building, 628 Walnut Ave., Harrisburg. The service is offered by appointment only and is open to all residents of the 105th Legislative District, which includes Lower Paxton, South Hanover, and West Hanover townships in Dauphin County.

AARP Foundation TaxAide offers both tax preparation and e-filing of federal, state and local tax returns at no charge. Assistance with Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program forms is also available.

Taxpayers seeking assistance must bring copies of their 2017 tax returns, plus all income information, real estate tax receipts, deduction information, and health care enrollment information pertaining to 2018. Taxpayers must also bring photo identification, Social Security cards, and, if a direct deposit of refund is desired, a bank check to ensure correct account numbers.

Appointments are required and must be made by contacting Lewis' office at 717-652-3721. AARP membership is not required in order to receive assistance.


Concealed-Carry Seminar Planned February 22, 2019

State Rep. Andrew Lewis invites area residents to a free concealed-carry seminar set for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 23, at the West Hanover Township Parks and Recreation Building, 628 Walnut Ave., Harrisburg. Speakers will include Dauphin County district attorney Fran Chardo and Dauphin County sheriff Nicholas Chimienti Jr.

People who wish to attend the seminar are encouraged to register in advance by visiting or calling the Linglestown Road office at 717-652-3721. Seating is limited.


Concealed Carry Seminars Posted February 14, 2019

Two concealed carry seminars will be offered in March to better inform area gun owners regarding Pennsylvania's firearm laws. Both events are free and open to the public. The seminars will be hosted by Rep. Sue Helm.

The seminars will both be held from 6 to 8 p.m. The first seminar will take place on Thursday, March 7, at Halifax Area Ambulance and Rescue Association Building, 31 Bunker Hill Road, Halifax, and readers may call 717-692-0833 to register. The second seminar will be offered on Thursday, March 14, at Ono Fire Company, 10805 Jonestown Road, Ono, and readers may call 717-651-0100 to register.

Seating is limited. Participants may also register online at


Benefits Assistance Available For Veterans February 13, 2019

Veterans and their families who are in need of or interested in benefits assistance are invited to the office of Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, 53 E. North St., Suite 3, York. Those interested can schedule appointments between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month, with February's opportunity set for Feb. 20.

An accredited veterans service officer will be available to assist veterans and military families with a variety of issues, including Veterans Affairs compensation benefits, health care benefits, survivor benefits, educational opportunities, military personnel and medical records, and more.

Appointments are available by contacting Hill-Evans' office at 717-848-9595 or People can also find Hill-Evans on Twitter using the handle @RepHillEvans and Facebook at


Concealed Carry Seminar Slated February 12, 2019

A concealed carry seminar will be held at the West Manchester Farmers and Sportsmans' Association, 4900 Pine Hill Road, Dover, on Saturday, March 9, from 9 a.m. to noon. The seminar will discuss Pennsylvania's concealed carry laws. In addition, law enforcement officers will discuss firearms laws and will answer questions from the audience.

The seminar is hosted by state Rep. Seth Grove. Space is limited, and interested individuals should register early by calling Grove's district office at 717-767-3947 or by visiting


Rebate Forms Available February 11, 2019

Forms for the state's Property Tax/Rent Rebate program for 2018 rebates are available at the office of Rep. Kate Klunk. To be eligible, homeowners must earn less than $35,000 a year and renters less than $15,000 with half of Social Security income excluded. The deadline to apply is Sunday, June 30.

Eligible participants of the state's Property Tax/Rent Rebate program can receive a rebate of up to $650 based on their rent or property taxes paid in 2018. The program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians who are age 65 or older, widows and widowers age 50 or older, and those age 18 or older with permanent disabilities.

Certain supplemental rebates can boost homeowner rebates up to $975. The supplemental rebates are automatically calculated by the Department of Revenue for qualifying homeowners.

Residents should not pay a private entity for assistance filing the forms. Copies of the forms, as well as assistance with filing them, are available at Klunk's office at no cost. Applicants should be prepared to provide all the necessary income, property tax, or rental information required to process claims quickly and accurately.

Applications are also available for download at by clicking on State Forms. For additional information or assistance, readers may contact Klunk's office at 717-630-8942.

Klunk has offices in York County at the Shrewsbury Township Building, 11505 Susquehanna Trail South, in the first-floor conference room, and at the Hanover Borough Office, 118 Carlisle Street, Suite 300, Hanover. Free parking is available behind the Hanover Borough Office.


Walking Initiative Reaches Milestone February 6, 2019

At their recent Sunshine Meeting public work session, the Chester County commissioners received an update from Chester County Health Department director Jeanne Casner announcing a milestone in the WalkWorks ChesCo! challenge. Since the launch of WalkWorks in April 2017, Chester County residents have registered more than 4 billion steps in the program.

WalkWorks ChesCo! is a program that aims to promote, educate and empower county residents to adopt a healthier lifestyle one step at a time by creating more places for walking, supporting and promoting walking groups, coordinating walking challenges and creating a website that allows everyone to track and tally their steps. What began as the county's response to the national Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge has grown into a program that engages county residents of all ages and that has been replicated by communities in other states.

Throughout 2018, WalkWorks ChesCo! participants were motivated by 18 competitions, including the First Responders Walking Challenge, the Chester County Library Summer Walking Challenge, the Ville to Ville Step Challenge, Chester County Farms Tour and the YMCAs' Y2Y Walking Challenge.

Chester County Commissioner Terence Farrell, who first brought the idea of the Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge to Chester County, cited various benefits of walking, such as improving mental health, reducing chronic disease risks and burning calories.

One of the key components of the WalkWorks ChesCo! program is the specially designed website that tallies all steps taken by residents who register to participate. The website,, syncs with most devices and mobile apps that already track steps, and it also allows users to convert other physical exercise into steps to be manually added.

According to Commissioner Michelle Kichline, more physical activities have been added to the website so that everyone registered can convert more activities into steps. These include swimming, weight lifting, yoga, aerobics fitness classes, circuit training, dancing, and horseback riding.

Casner hopes that participants reach 5 billion steps by April, when the next phase of the challenge will be launched. In planning for the next phase of the challenge, participants in WalkWorks ChesCo! are encouraged to give feedback through a short survey that can be found on the WalkWorks web page. To find the survey and more information about the ChesCo! program and how to register, readers may visit the website.


County Pledges 5 Billion Steps February 4, 2019

Chester County commissioners, along with health department director Jeanne Casner, recently announced this year's WalkWorks ChesCo! goals and challenged all county residents to increase the number of steps collectively taken from 1 billion to 5 billion by the end of the year.

In addition to upping the step count, a new goal has been set for a minimum of 5,000 registrations on the WalkWorks ChesCo! website to track and tally the steps taken toward the 5 billion goal. As of Jan. 29, the county had cumulatively taken nearly 1.7 billion steps and 2,900 people had registered, according to Casner.

WalkWorks ChesCo! is a program that aims to promote, educate and empower county residents to adopt a healthier lifestyle by creating more places for walking, supporting and promoting walking groups, coordinating walking challenges and creating a website that allows everyone to track and tally their steps. It is the county's response to the national Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge, a two-year competition that aims to empower cities and counties across the nation to create a positive health impact. At the end of 2016, the county was selected out of 400 applications as one of 50 members of the HealthCommunity 50 and received $10,000 in community seed funds to establish WalkWorks ChesCo!

The success of the first year of WalkWorks ChesCo! led the Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge judging panel to award Chester County an interim Spotlight Award, which includes an additional $10,000 to support and promote the program for year two.

Commissioner Terence Farrell first brought the national challenge to the attention of his fellow commissioners.

One of the key components of the WalkWorks ChesCo! program is a specially designed website that tallies all steps taken by residents who register to participate. The website syncs with most devices and mobile apps that already track steps, and it also allows users to convert other physical exercise into steps to be manually added.

If judged the most successful Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge program, Chester County will receive $500,000 to be used to further enhance health programs for all county residents. The Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge is a partnership established between the Aetna Foundation, the American Public Health Association and the National Association of Counties.

More information about the program and how to register is available at


Lawmaker Will Host Events January 31, 2019

State Rep. Andrew Lewis will host an open house at his district office, 4401 Linglestown Road, Suite B, Harrisburg, on Thursday, Feb. 7, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. In addition to the open house, Lewis will hold three town hall meetings and a REAL ID verification pop-up event.

The REAL ID event will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 12, at 6 p.m. at the Lower Paxton Township Building, 425 Prince St., Harrisburg. It is designed to help expedite the identification verification process for people interested in obtaining a REAL ID when it becomes available in March.

Town hall meetings will take place on the following Wednesdays at 6 p.m.: Feb. 13 in the Lower Paxton Township Board Room, 425 Prince St., Harrisburg; Feb. 20 in the West Hanover Township public meeting room, main floor, 7171 Allentown Blvd., Harrisburg; and Feb. 27 in the South Hanover Township Community Room, 161 Patriot Way, Hershey.

Lewis encourages residents with questions or concerns to call his office on Linglestown Road at 717-652-3721 or his Capitol office at 717-783-2014. He also invites communication via and


Schools Receive Grants January 28, 2019

The Red Lion Area School District, the Dallastown Area School District, the Eastern York School District, and the York Academy will each receive a $35,000 grant to expand computer science classes and teacher training. The funding was made available from the PA Smart Initiative that was included in the state budget passed in June 2018.

The goal of these targeted grants is to meet the needs of schools that currently have limited to no computer science offerings. These grants are meant to fund teams of educators (four or more) who would like to be trained on ways to implement computer science in their classrooms.

The funding available for these grants is the result of a $30 million appropriation in the fiscal year 2018-19 General Fund Budget. The Pennsylvania Workforce Development Board provided recommendations and approved the framework for the funding priorities.


Rebate Program Details Posted January 28, 2019

Application forms for the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program are now available for eligible Pennsylvanians to begin claiming rebates on property taxes or rent paid in 2018. The deadline to apply for a rebate is Sunday, June 30.

The rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and older, widows and widowers age 50 and older, and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters, and half of Social Security income is excluded.

The maximum standard rebate is $650, but supplemental rebates for certain qualifying homeowners can boost rebates to $975. The Department of Revenue automatically calculates supplemental rebates for qualifying homeowners.

Applying for the rebate is free. Applicants may obtain Property Tax/Rent Rebate claim forms (PA-1000) and related information by visiting or by calling 888-222-9190.

Rebates will be distributed beginning Monday, July 1, as required by law. More than $252.6 million in property tax and rent rebates has been sent to more than 527,000 homeowners and renters across the state for property taxes and rent paid in 2017.

Since the program's inception in 1971, more than $6.9 billion has been paid to qualified applicants through the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program.

For the status of rebate claims, readers may visit Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program claim forms (PA-1000s) are loaded into the Department of Revenue's processing system in late April. There will be no information available on a claim until that time.


New Student Loan Program Posted January 21, 2019

Prospective college students who may be applying for financial aid this year are encouraged to consider the new PA Forward Student Loan Program. The PA Forward State Grant Program provides low-cost, alternative student loans for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as loans for parent borrowers.

The program is designed to complement other forms of student aid, such as the PA State Grant Program and low-cost federal loans. Pennsylvania students who need help paying for college after exhausting their eligibility for gift aid and low-cost federal student loans are encouraged to apply. Additionally, borrowers who are in repayment and want to combine their debt after graduation to outstanding student debts and achieve a lower monthly payment can benefit from a PA Forward Refinance Loan.

PHEAA is the lender and servicer of the loans, with tax-exempt financing provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

PA Forward participants can borrow up to the total cost of attendance with competitively low interest rates. There are immediate credit approvals and flexible repayment options, with no application or origination fees. Borrowers can get discounted interest rates by enrolling in an automatic direct debit repayment program and simply by graduating.

Borrowers can receive a .25 percent interest rate reduction for enrolling in an automatic direct debit program and an additional .50 percent interest rate reduction for achieving successful graduation. Borrowers also benefit from a six-month grace period after graduation before the first payment is due. This allows borrowers time to get their finances in order, including time to find a job, before repayment begins. Borrowers who take full advantage of the program's benefits could save thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.

PHEAA encourages students and their families to exhaust all eligibility for grants and scholarships before considering a student loan. When borrowing is necessary, students should first apply for low-cost federal student loans before turning to an alternative student loan, which may have higher interest rates.

To help students make informed choices about their higher education funding plans that can prevent unnecessary or excessive borrowing, PHEAA created This free resource helps users understand how different career, school, and financial decisions made during the college planning process can influence their total cost of an education and their ability to repay any student loans after graduation.


New Reporting Tool Available January 21, 2019

A tool for reporting suspicious activity surrounding the prescribing or dispensing of prescription drugs, including opioids, has been created. The tool will be available on the attorney general's website at, on the Department of Health's website at, and within the state's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) site for registered users at

By making the attorney general's suspicious activity reporting tool available on the PDMP and the Department of Health's website, another layer of safety is added for the responsible prescribing of controlled substances such as opioids. The illegal diversion of prescription pain pills from doctors' offices and pharmacies is contributing to the opioid epidemic across the commonwealth, but diversion activity is hard to identify and even harder to investigate. The new reporting tool, which is available online to everyone, allows people to anonymously give the attorney general's office detailed information about suspected diversion so criminal activity can be better investigated and prosecuted.

The attorney general's Office of Diversion created the suspicious activity report form, a web-based form, for health care providers and the general public to report suspicious activity involving prescription medication. Things that might be reported include fraudulent, stolen, or altered prescriptions; a suspicious doctor or pharmacy; or an individual obtaining prescription drugs for any purpose other than the treatment of an existing medical condition, such as for purposes of misuse, abuse, or diversion.

Completed reports are assigned to the appropriate attorney general's office investigator in the region where the suspicious activity is alleged to have taken place. Those with an active Pennsylvania professional license that permits them to prescribe or dispense medications must register to use the PDMP. Authorized users include prescribers, dispensers, the attorney general's office (on behalf of law enforcement), designated commonwealth personnel, and medical examiners or county coroners.

More than 90,000 registrants have conducted approximately 1.6 million patient searches each month. The PDMP online database allows prescribers and dispensers of controlled substances to monitor who is obtaining opioids, who prescriptions are being obtained from, and how often they are prescribed, and it also supports clinicians in identifying patients who may be struggling from the disease of addiction and help connect them with treatment services.

For more information on the PDMP, readers may visit


Assistance Hours Posted For Veterans January 16, 2019

Rep. Kate Klunk will host Veterans' Outreach Days twice a month at her district office, located at 118 Carlisle St., Suite 300, Hanover. Veterans' outreach assistance with a representative from the American Legion will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the second Tuesday and from 2 to 6 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of each month. In the coming months, the program will be held on Feb. 12 and 26, March 12 and 26, and April 9 and 23.

Some of the services available to veterans and their dependents include assistance with compensation, pension claims, death benefits, education and health care, as well as any issues pertaining to veterans' benefits. All veterans and their spouses are encouraged to sit down with a veteran service officer to understand what services may be available for them.

Appointments must be made in advance by contacting Klunk's office at 717-630-8942.


Students Attend Government Simulation Event January 9, 2019

Twelve Middletown Area High School (MAHS) students joined fellow high school students from York, Dauphin, and Lebanon counties at the state Capitol on Nov. 8, 2018, for Senator for a Day, hosted by state Sen. Mike Folmer. The MAHS students were escorted by the school's government and economics teachers, Josh Rytel and Dale Shreiner. The MAHS delegation arrived at the Capitol in time to take part in a breakfast, which was followed by an instructional session during which Folmer and his chief of staff explained step by step how a bill becomes law.

Afterward, students began the government simulation. They took part in committee meetings, where they focused on amending and passing two bills that would be debated in a general Senate session later in the day. MAHS students were active in amending and strengthening bills before they went before the general Senate. Students were in their committees until lunch.

Following lunch with Folmer, students attended the general Senate session. Folmer presided over the session, where students debated the bills that had been approved by their respective committees. Some of these bills included a bill that ended property taxes and a bill that allowed for audio recordings on school buses. Middletown students were very active in floor debate. Senior Marcus Williams sponsored a bill that required drug testing for welfare recipients, which he had to present before the Senate. He successfully saw the bill passed.

Before leaving, Shreiner and Rytel took the students on a tour of the Capitol, including visits to the House of Representatives and Senate chambers. Students also stopped for photos in the Rotunda and outside the Capitol.


County Announces Its 500th Preserved Farm January 8, 2019

Chester County recently signed contracts on the preservation of its 500th farm, bringing the total number of farm acres preserved in the county to just under 40,000. In total, more than 136,000 acres - 28 percent - of land in Chester County has been preserved since the beginning of its open space preservation program in 1989.

The recently preserved 109-acre farm, owned by Gerald and Cindy Rohrer, is located in Upper Oxford and West Fallowfield townships. It has been a family farm since 1966, when Gerald's parents took it on as dairy farm. Over the years, the farm changed to raising heifers before moving to crop farming. Gerald, the youngest of five children, and Cindy took over the farm in 2001, and today the Rohrers grow corn for livestock consumption, hay for the equine industry and mulch hay for the mushroom industry. The family also runs a small sideline business of trucking for agriculture haulage.

Chester County's Agricultural Preservation program began in 1989 when the resolution was adopted. The first farm was preserved in Newlin Township in 1990, and over the years, the county has contributed more than $106 million toward farmland preservation.

Farm preservation in Chester County is based on an agricultural conservation easement. Farms that are 10 acres or more are eligible if they are adjacent to permanently preserved land. Farms not adjacent to permanently preserved land must be a minimum of 50 acres for the state/county program and 25 acres in size for the Municipal Challenge Grant program.

Chester County farm owners may review the eligibility requirements for preservation by visiting The deadline for applications is Aug. 1 of each year.


Unclaimed Property Listed January 3, 2019

State Sen. Andy Dinniman reminds residents to check with the Pennsylvania Treasury's Bureau of Unclaimed Property to see if there is property waiting for them to claim.

The Treasury returned hundreds of millions in unclaimed property to Pennsylvanians last year. Still, there is more than $3.4 billion in unclaimed property waiting to be claimed by its rightful owners and about 1 in 10 residents have unclaimed property waiting for them.

Individuals may search the registry by visiting or calling the Treasury's Bureau of Unclaimed Property toll-free at 800-222-2046.

Unclaimed property is any financial asset that has gone unclaimed for a period of time, usually three years. Under Pennsylvania law, businesses are required to report this to Treasury, which serves as the custodian until it can find and verify its rightful legal owner. The registry includes items from forgotten bank accounts and stocks, uncashed checks, and rebates, the contents of safety deposit boxes and other unclaimed property.

Dinniman encourages local residents to search the database and see if the Treasury may be holding unclaimed property for them.

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