There’s been a few glitches along the way with these hearings, but we’re still moving ahead

Article posted on October 31, 2012

The latest update I received from PEMA increased the storm related fatality count in PA to 5. There are still thousands of people without power and some of them aren’t expected to get it until as late as next Tuesday. Things are pretty much back to normal in this neck of the woods. I rescheduled the hearing on the City of Harrisburg’s financial situation for November 13th. We booked the room and started the notification process today. There’s been a few glitches along the way with these hearings, but we’re still moving ahead. There’s too much at stake not to.

-John

Charlotte and I survived the storm

Article posted on October 30, 2012

Charlotte and I survived the storm. We had power outages off and on, but managed to get in supper before the longest one hit. I was on another conference call this afternoon with other members of the state legislature and members of congress. I learned that with this storm; 3 PA fatalities have been reported, 8 areas have been evacuated, 60 shelters were opened with 903 people using them, 25 pet shelters were opened with 73 pets taking occupancy, 41 counties declared a state of emergency and that 1.2 million people went without power. The Governor also ordered an additional day to get in an absentee ballot for every day the local court house was closed. State offices should all be back in business tomorrow and most of us can get back to a normal schedule.

-John

One way or another, we’ll survive

Article posted on October 29, 2012

We ended up postponing today’s hearing until mid- November. After about a million phone calls and emails last night, we decided to hold the hearing unless the capitol complex buildings were closed. Well, the Governor ordered them closed at 6:00 this morning. I was already en route when we got the news. And that was the story for the rest of the day, the storm. I was part of a conference call this morning with the Lt. Governor, the PEMA Director and the Chairman of the PUC. We got an update on what the storm was doing at that point and what was projected to happen. Few people are more skeptical than I of the abilities of meteorologists, but the storm predictions explained on the call seemed realistic. We should be over the worst of the storm by tomorrow, but the power outages could last longer depending on the wind and rain. One way or another, we’ll survive.

-John

It should be aired on PCN, if you’re interested

Article posted on October 28, 2012

After church, I spent the entire day preparing for the second hearing on the City of Harrisburg’s financial situation. This evening, part of my prep time was spent dealing with whether or not we were cancelling the hearing because of the storm. I’ve been in touch with various staff from the Senate and tried to reach a cabinet member, but didn’t hear back, yet anyway. At this point, the Governor has closed state offices in Philadelphia and will issue a decision on the rest of the state at 4:00 AM. This isn’t the best scenario for our hearing. We have people that drove into Harrisburg today and others that are coming in the morning from all over the state and possibly a few from out of state. So, the hearing is on unless we’re locked out of the capitol. We have a few local officials lined up to testify in the morning, but the bulk of the witnesses are the professionals who advised the Authority, the City and the County on the borrowings. It should be aired on PCN, if you’re interested.

-John

It was a fitting tribute to a man who served the people of Blair County so well

Article posted on October 27, 2012

Charlotte, Lillie and I went to the ground breaking ceremony for the soon-to-come Blair County Dog Park. It’s located outside of Martinsburg on a 12 acre tract donated by the farm owner. A fence needs to be built and a parking area finished, but the location itself is beautiful. There was a large crowd and they all brought dogs. We had a good time and Lillie is still excited about it. Tonight I attended the retirement celebration for Blair County Judge Hiram Carpenter. I’ve known Hiram since 1979 and consider him a friend. We had a good dinner and heard a lot of stories about Hiram, some referring to his professional career, most were personal and humorous. It was a fitting tribute to a man who served the people of Blair County so well.

-John

The Secretary is one of those nice guys in state government

Article posted on October 26, 2012

Ag Secretary George Greig was in Bedford County for a Chamber luncheon today. He gave an overview of recently passed legislation including expanding the allowable length and width of farm equipment on the highway and inheritance tax changes for farmers. He talked about his budget, ethanol’s effect on corn prices, county fairs and what’s been happening at the Farm Show Building. The Secretary is one of those nice guys in state government and everyone seems to like him. I had a meeting with school officials this afternoon and then a meeting with a group on transportation funding. I don’t have anything scheduled for tonight, so I’m cooking turkey burgers on the grill for Charlotte. I was scheduled every other night this week and thought that she deserved a nice meal, really, she picked turkey burgers.

-John

They don’t like choices for kids or standardized testing, who knew?

Article posted on October 25, 2012

I had a town hall meeting at the Tipton Fire Hall tonight. We didn’t know when we scheduled it that it was “trick or treat” night in Blair County. We also didn’t know that the fire hall usually has bingo on Thursday nights, but cancelled it tonight because of trick or treat. Despite those factors, we had a decent sized crowd. Most of the night was spent on school issues since we had a few people connected to government schools in attendance. They don’t like choices for kids or standardized testing, who knew? I’ve got another town hall next week in Fulton County. If memory serves, I’ll still have one to do in Bedford County. We do nine each year.

-John

There were about 100 people who enjoyed a great culinary experience

Article posted on October 24, 2012

I only got to three events today, which gave me the opportunity to get a little office work done. This morning I attended a retirement luncheon for Mahlon Fiscel, the Director of Family Services, Inc., a social services agency in Blair County. I’ve know Mahlon for 12 or so years and was honored to be included in his special event. I ended the day at the Bedford Fair Grounds for the Taste The Harvest of Bedford County 4-H dinner. Tonight’s fare included rabbit and bison along with many other meats, vegetables, honey and homemade desserts. I collaborated with two students, Heidi Barkley and Megan Anderson, and 4-H leader Dwayne Hay, on an A.B. Ross Leadership Program presentation. There were about 100 people who enjoyed a great culinary experience and learned more about what these kids did over the past year.

-John

Talking with people like I did today puts me in a much better position to understand their concerns and represent their interests

Article posted on October 23, 2012

Today’s schedule enabled me to get to six events. I often get invited to that many, but rarely does the timing work out for me to do it. I always learn from each visit. Just today, I saw a presentation to 2nd graders, admonishing them about the dangers of smoking, drugs and alcohol; I learned about new teaching requirements for a local cosmetology school; I toured a nursing home and saw the state of the art renovations they just completed; I visited a business that doubled their receipts by moving to a location with a higher traffic count and better parking; I spoke with a church group that invited the community to learn about their faith; and I attended a benefit for a youth program that touches thousands of lives. To me, talking with people like I did today puts me in a much better position to understand their concerns and represent their interests. They deserve that.

-John

We’re fortunate to have these programs in place and to have good people run them

Article posted on October 22, 2012

I attended a meeting at Blair Senior Services’ Transportation building this morning and got a tour of their operation. It was pretty impressive. They handle close to 600 trips each day and therefore receive about 600 telephone calls booking trips for the following day. They operate 36 vans and do most all of the maintenance in-house. The drivers keep logs of every trip and collect the small fee charged to the senior. These records are given to staff at the transportation office who verify the information against the reservation on file. Software makes the various components of each trip and the money charged manageable, I don’t know how they did all of what they do with pen and paper. The rides are available to every county resident over the age of 65 regardless of income. Transportation is just a piece of a comprehensive effort to keep older people in their homes as long as possible. The cost of these programs equals a small fraction of what a nursing home stay would be and allows the senior, generally, a better lifestyle. We’re fortunate to have these programs in place and to have good people run them.

-John