Blake: Marcellus Shale Region Cancer Study is Investment in Health and Future of PA

Sen Blake speaks at news conference

SCRANTON, July 7, 2011 – – State Sen. John P. Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today joined the Northeast Regional Cancer Institute at Lackawanna College to announce a $75,000 state grant to conduct a health survey in the areas of Northeastern Pennsylvania affected by Marcellus shale drilling operations.

The study, which will be conducted by Cancer Institute researchers, will determine the current health status of the population in Bradford, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Lycoming, Pike Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Wayne and Wyoming counties and establish an important baseline of data for future comparisons and research regarding public health in the areas impacted by Marcellus operations.

“Research is one of the most important tools in the fight against all cancers and this grant shows the state’s faith in the quality of research being conducted here in Scranton,” Blake said. “It is imperative that the health and well-being of Pennsylvania residents be the number one priority as the Marcellus industry expands in our state.”

The specific goals of the survey are to estimate the prevalence of a variety of acute and chronic medical conditions among residents living in counties where natural gas production has begun or is likely, as well as estimate the prevalence of known health risk factors in this population. At least 500 survey participants will be recruited for the study.

“With 20 years of experience in cancer control and more than a decade of experience conducting epidemiological research in Northeastern Pennsylvania, the Cancer Institute is very glad to be able to provide the community with this valuable information on public health in the Marcellus shale region,” added Robert Durkin, president of the Northeast Regional Cancer Institute. “The Institute welcomes the support of Pennsylvania’s Northeast delegation in the General Assembly as well as the support of the Corbett Administration through the Department of Public Welfare.”

The grant is being administered by the Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare.

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Blake Applauds Senate Vote Banning Dangerous Bath Salts

HARRISBURG, June 15, 2011 — State Sen. John P. Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today applauded a Senate concurrence vote on House amendments to Senate Bill 1006, banning the production, use, sale and possession of dangerous bath salts and synthetic marijuana in Pennsylvania.

“I commend my colleagues in both chambers of the legislature for their swift action to ban these substances, which have become an enormous threat to public safety,” Blake said. “This issue was of particular concern to my Senate district. The preventative actions taken by the mayor and by law enforcement officials in the City of Scranton in April evidenced an urgency for action by the General Assembly.”

Blake commended Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty and Lackawanna County District Attorney Andy Jarbola for advancing a ban on these dangerous substances within Scranton city limits earlier this year.

Concentrated bath salts contain a chemical known as MDPV, which can mimic the effects of cocaine and methamphetamine.

Senate Bill 1006 also bans salvia divinorum, a psychoactive drug that can produce hallucinations, and it also prohibits the sale of synthetic marijuana.

The ban contained in Senate Bill 1006 now goes to Gov. Tom Corbett for enactment.

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Blake, Local Officials Talk Budget, State Issues at Legislative Breakfast

PECKVILLE, June 3, 2011 – – State Sen. John P. Blake today hosted local government officials from every municipality in the 22nd Senatorial District (Lackawanna, Luzerne and Monroe counties) to discuss state issues and the prospective local impacts of state budget proposals.

“The dialogue today with local municipal officials provided me perspective from different regions of my Senate district and it informed me on the concerns that are paramount to local officials as I move into the last few weeks of budget negotiations in Harrisburg,” Blake said. “The local officials in attendance understand well the effects of the recent recession and they know the challenges of balancing budgets under these circumstances. They expect a state budget compromise that reflects true shared sacrifice from all sectors of our economy and a final spending plan that protects our seniors and persons with disabilities while investing properly in education, health care and economic development.”

The legislative breakfast, held at Fiorelli’s in Peckville, was an opportunity for elected and appointed municipal officials from the 22nd District to interact with Senator Blake and to discuss issues of interest and concern to their communities.

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Blake, Sec. Avila Tour Commonwealth Medical College, Discuss Public Health Initiatives

Sen. Blake and Sec. Avila

SCRANTON, May 20, 2011 – – State Senator John P. Blake and Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Dr. Eli Avila today toured The Commonwealth Medical College (TCMC) and discussed the importance of public health initiatives and public health research with medical students and faculty.

“The Commonwealth Medical College is one of the most important assets in the city of Scranton and in Northeastern Pennsylvania,” Blake said. “This first-class medical college is graduating brilliant young doctors that will only continue to improve the quality of health care provided at our hospitals, clinics and medical centers throughout the state.”

Blake and Sec. Avila joined TCMC senior officials for a walking tour of the campus and discussed the needs and goals of the state’s newest medical college with staff and students.

“This Commonwealth has a strong tradition of developing medicine and public health. We are the home of the country’s first medical school and the first medical school for women,” Secretary Avila said. “I am honored to stand at Lackawanna College and at TCMC’s new Medical Sciences Building, meeting first year students as they prepare to aid us in providing quality care for all Pennsylvanians. Together, we can continue to meet the public health needs of our residents and ensure that access to care is available to all.”

TCMC offers both a Medical Degree (MD) program and a Master of Biomedical Sciences (MBS) degree. Over the next 20 years, the medical school expects to add 425 qualified, diverse practicing physicians to Northeastern Pennsylvania. In addition, the medical school is expected to add $70 million to the local economy and create 1,000 new jobs that directly and indirectly support the school’s operations.

“While everyone understands the fiscal strains on Pennsylvania’s state budget, I believe this tour and this discussion with Secretary Avila will prove beneficial for the TCMC,” Blake said. “After witnessing the quality of the facility and the extraordinary value of the research, education and training taking place at TCMC and, of course, after talking with students who are excited about their chosen profession to provide quality medical care, I believe Secretary Avila will understand the importance of the state’s investment in this facility and in its future operations.”

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Blake Announces Over $350K in State Funding for Three Monroe Co. Projects

HARRISBURG, May 5, 2011 – – State Sen. John P. Blake today announced state funding totaling $354,998 for three projects in Monroe County. The state grant money for the projects in Barrett and Coolbaugh Townships is derived from the “local share assessment” (LSA) account generated by the gaming industry.

“I am very pleased that our residents continue to see some of the positive impacts of the gaming industry in Pennsylvania,” Blake said. “In yet another difficult year for the economy, state funding is becoming incredibly scarce and without this money from gaming funds, the costs of important community development projects would fall solely onto our local communities and local taxpayers.”

Blake said that the three Monroe County projects receiving LSA funding in his district include:

  • $200,000 to renovate, modernize and convert a historic building into a senior center in Barrett Township
  • $89,998 for site preparation costs associated with a proposed event center and boutique-style hotel at the historic Buck Hill Inn located in Barrett Township
  • $65,000 to make traffic and drainage improvements and repave a portion of the Hemlock Drive and State Route 611 intersection in Coolbaugh Township.

The “local share assessment” (LSA) account was established by the Pennsylvania Horse Race and Gaming Development Act. The funds are generated by the commonwealth’s gaming facilities.

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