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22 News & Views from State Senator John Blake

Protecting Tobyhanna and Pennsylvania's Other Fine Military Installations

Pennsylvania Military Community Enhancement CommissionI recently joined legislative and military leaders from across Pennsylvania to discuss the economic importance of Pennsylvania’s military operations at the inaugural meeting of the Pennsylvania Military Community Enhancement Commission (PMCEC).

The 17-member commission, which was formally established through Act 161 of last year, is tasked with examining and advocating for Pennsylvania’s military installations and the important missions they have which support our state’s economy and our national security.

With a nearly $3 billion annual economic impact, Tobyhanna Army Depot is arguably the largest economic driver in northeastern Pennsylvania – and it remains the largest industrial employer in our region. Our commission was created to promote, protect and further develop Tobyhanna and our other fine military installations around the state which employ tens of thousands of hard-working Pennsylvanians.

The Pennsylvania Military Community Enhancement Commission was established under the Department of Community and Economic Development and will coordinate with the department – and also with Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation – to identify potential sources of funding for economic development projects and to monitor the prospective impact of future Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) activities at the Department of Defense.

I am looking forward to working with my legislative colleagues as well as with economic development professionals and other volunteers on the commission to focus our efforts and activities that will protect and enhance the military value of our defense installations in serving our warfighters.

We are aware that BRAC discussions will occur in Washington D.C. in the years ahead.  We need to work now to ensure Pennsylvania installations and Pennsylvania workers are not endangered by future BRAC decisions.

Inclusion Initiative Summit Highlights Changing Demographics in NEPA

Inclusion Initiative SummitI was proud to host several local business and nonprofit leaders at Marywood University last week for our first Inclusion Initiative Summit.

The Inclusion Initiative Summit was a prime opportunity to showcase the diversity in our region and begin to make strides toward becoming a more welcoming community that embraces diverse cultures from across the globe. Working together with government officials, educators, nonprofit leaders and local entrepreneurs, we can leverage diversity to create jobs and generate economic growth.

The Inclusion Initiative Summit presented an opportunity for local business, nonprofit and community leaders to openly discuss the changing demographics in northeastern Pennsylvania and begin to forge a plan to take advantage of the benefits of diversity in the community.

Inclusion Initiative PanelBetty Cruz, manager of Special Initiatives in the office of Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto, discussed how the city of Pittsburgh has utilized a program called Welcoming America to create a more welcoming, immigrant-friendly environment that maximizes opportunities for economic growth and cultural vitality

Currently in Pennsylvania, Allegheny County and the cities of Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and York participate in the Welcoming American initiative. Ms. Cruz discussed how the program can benefit a city like Scranton by supporting long-term immigrant integration in a way that benefits all members of the community.

Our other panelists included Dr. Stephanie Bressler from the United Neighborhood Centers; Dr. Ibrahim Almeky from the Medical Center of Northeastern Pennsylvania; and Juan Mendez from Pennsylvania CareerLink Lackawanna County.

Around the District

Betta Gamma Sigma induction ceremony
I am very grateful and it was a deep honor to be inducted as an honorary member of the University of Scranton​ chapter of the Beta Gamma Sigma​ international honor society which recognizes business excellence.
Touring Tek Ridge with Governor Tom Wolf
I enjoyed meeting with many entrepreneurs & small business owners on a tour of TekRidge Center in Jessup with Gov. Tom Wolf. I was delighted to join my colleagues in welcoming Gov. Wolf to Lackawanna County.
Scranton 150th Anniversary kickoff event Scranton’s 150th anniversary celebration!
It was a pleasure to talk about the history of Scranton with other local leaders, the members of Scranton Tomorrow and the many residents in attendance at the kickoff of Scranton’s 150th anniversary celebration!
Law Day
It was a pleasure to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Lackawanna Bar Association on Courthouse Square in Scranton as part of the annual ‪Law Day ceremony.
Marywood MSW Award
I am grateful, humbled and honored to receive the 2015 MSW Distinguished Graduate Award from Marywood University as part of the 45th anniversary of the School of Social Work.
Tour De Scranton
Glad to join Mayor Bill Courtwright to cut the ribbon at the 12th annual Tour de Scranton bike ride which raises money to help individuals and families struggling with the dangers of addiction and substance abuse.

Lackawanna College Receives $150K Grant for Gas Well Training Simulator

Marcellus Shale rigAs member of the Senate Energy and Environmental Resources Committee and as co-chair of the soon to be formed Senate Gas & Oil caucus, I am thrilled that the Lackawanna College School of Petroleum & Natural Gas (PNG) will soon be home to only the second computer-based simulator in the nation that will train workers in our natural gas industry.

The School of PNG was recently awarded a $150,000 tech grant from the PA Department of Labor & Industry to facilitate the acquisition of a start-of-the-art well control simulator from Check-6 known as the Well Control VI Training System.

The Well Control VI Training System is an advanced academic and simulation training system for both students and actual rig crews that teaches the critical fundamentals of primary and secondary well control for both surface and sub-sea scenarios. The system also tracks and documents student performance for all academic and simulation training scenarios.

This is a great victory for Lackawanna College and for aspiring rig operators who will no longer have to travel to Texas to train on this state-of-the-art platform. Congratulations to President Mark Volk and to his great team of administrators and faculty at Lackawanna College.

Click here to watch a demo video of the Well Control VI Training System.

Congratulations to the Mid Valley Spartans Basketball Team

Mid Valley Basketball teamI was very proud to join the Lackawanna County commissioners and the Mid Valley School District community to honor the 2014-15 PIAA District 2 Basketball champion Spartans. It has been a long road to the top for the Mid Valley Spartans basketball program – but the coaches and the hundreds of alumni who have poured their hearts into this basketball program can all take great pride in the success of this year's team.

 Congratulations to head coach Mike Abda and his great staff of assistant coaches for guiding this talented group of young men to the top of District 2 basketball. I would also like to congratulate Jason Kenny for capping off his outstanding career as a Spartan by becoming only the third member of the 1,000 point club at Mid Valley and setting a school record with 641 points this past season.

Flag New Website is Great Resource for PA Veterans

Our veterans and the many brave men and women currently serving our country deserve the best assistance and our unwavering support when they return home.

The City of Philadelphia's Department of Behavioral Health just recently launched a new website that has a wealth of information for veterans, service members and their families.

The site, while it does have some Philadelphia-specific features, provides an easy to use database of all federal, state and locl programs and services with specific sections on all programs offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense. The website also features regularly updated job listings; a listing of all local and national crisis service hotlines for veterans; and a library that includes over 30,000 articles that are targeted to service members, veterans and their families. The website also features fact sheets and interactive tools for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, traumatic brain injuries and other benefits.

Click here to visit the new Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health Veterans website!

Blood Pressure Screening Outreach Scheduled in Monroe County

PA Department of HealthThe Pennsylvania Department of Health has announced that they will be conducting free public blood presssure screening clinics throughout 2015 in Stroudsburg.

The clinics are scheduled to take place on May 21, July 16, September 17 and November 19. All four dates currently scheduled are Thursdays. The clinics will take place from 11 a.m. until noon at the Street 2 Feet Outreach Center located at 130 N. First Street in Stroudsburg.

If you have any other questions about the blood pressure screening clinics, please contact the Monroe County State Health Center at 570-424-3020.

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Offices to Serve You


Main District Office
Oppenheim Building
409 Lackawanna Ave., Ste. 210
Scranton, PA 18503
Phone: (570) 207-2881
Fax: (570) 207-2897
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Room 17 East Wing
The State Capitol
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Harrisburg, PA 17120-3022
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