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News Archive


Catch Illegal Dumpers Red-Handed

Monday April 22nd, 2019
Does your township have a problem with people illegally dumping trash along roadsides and in parks and other remote areas? Do trash, electronics, and other materials pile up around your municipal recycling dropoff containers? Are you stuck with exorbitant fees to clean up these areas?
 
Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful (KPB) can help. The organization, with support from the state Department of Environmental Protection, has launched the IllegalDumpFreePA Grant Program to help local government and law enforcement officials curb illegal dumping by exposing those who commit this crime.
 
Grant recipients receive a surveillance kit to be placed at undisclosed locations that attract illegal dumping. The kit includes three concealable, lockable cameras and accessories that capture usable, conviction-worthy footage of license plates and illegal dumpers — even at night. One camera uses wireless technology that can send pictures via text to a registered cellphone when triggered, providing almost instant results.
 
There is no cost to the township, and KPB provides technical assistance for mounting and operating the cameras. Townships have the option of purchasing the equipment at the end of the grant period, which is typically three months. This program has helped in the successful prosecution of illegal dumpers in several counties.
 
To participate in the program, go to the grant program webpage and fill out an application. Townships may also contact the enforcement program coordinator, Rob Dubas, with questions at (724) 836-4121, ext. 107, or rdubas@keeppabeautiful.org. KPB is also available to make presentations at township meetings.


Highlight Your Historic Places During Preservation Month

Tuesday April 16th, 2019
To spotlight the importance of historic preservation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has designated May as Preservation Month. 
 
The National Trust suggests the following local activities to observe Preservation Month:
• Plan special tours of little-known historic sites.
• Engage volunteers interested in contributing to a local preservation project.
• Compile a photo archive of the hidden gems in your community.
• Plot out walking and driving tours that spotlight historic places in your township.
• Encourage residents and visitors to go to your website and Facebook and Twitter feeds and share information about gems they have discovered in the township.
• Schedule lectures, films, and slide shows about places saved and threatened.
 
The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a private, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to protecting irreplaceable local treasures.
 
For more information on Preservation Month, visit the National Trust webpage or call the National Trust for Historic Preservation toll-free at (800) 944-6847.


Recognize Your Road Crew During National Public Works Week

Monday April 15th, 2019
Heading into the busy road construction and repair season, there is no better time to recognize township public works crews for their efforts to maintain and improve roads and infrastructure.
 
Instituted as a public education campaign by the American Public Works Association in 1960, National Public Works Week calls attention to the importance of public works in community life. The event promotes awareness of the often-unsung heroes of our society, the professionals who serve the public good every day.
 
The week-long observance, scheduled for May 19-25, is a perfect oppor­tunity to celebrate the men and women who keep townships running all year long, not just when the snow flies.
 
This year’s theme, “It Starts Here,” represents the many facets of modern civilization that grow out of the efforts of public works professionals. For example, infrastructure starts with public works ... growth and innovation start with public works ... mobility starts with public works ... security starts with public works ... healthy communities start with public works. The bottom line is that citizens’ quality of life starts with public works.
 
During this special week, the American Public Works Association is asking townships to display their equipment, hold an open house, sponsor essay contests in local schools, host a parade, or hold programs for civic organizations and the local media.
 
For more information about National Public Works Week, call the APWA toll-free at (800) 848-2792. To download the APWA’s National Public Works Week How-To Guide, go to the National Public Works Week webpage.
 


Grants Available to Preserve Natural, Cultural Assets in Southcentral PA

Thursday April 4th, 2019
Townships in southcentral Pennsylvania may apply for mini-grants from the South Mountain Partnership to help protect and promote natural and cultural assets in their communities. Pre-application forms are due by May 31.
 
Grant awards range from $2,500 to $15,000 and require matching funds.
 
The partnership has awarded $345,000 since the mini-grant program began in 2009, which has leveraged more than $760,000 in matching funds. The grants are provided by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources through the Environmental Stewardship Fund.
 
The mini-grant program was developed and is administered by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. This organization co-leads the South Mountain Partnership, which is an alliance of the public and private sectors, nonprofits, universities, and residents in Adams, Cumberland, Franklin, and nothern York counties.
 
To learn more, go to southmountainpartnership.org/mini-grants. For more information about the mini-grant application and review process, contact South Mountain Partnership Director Katie Hess at (717) 258-5771 or khess@appalachiantrail.org.


File Financial Interests Statement by May 1

Thursday April 4th, 2019
As required by the state Ethics Act, all elected and most appointed public officials must file an annual financial interests statement for 2018 with their township by May 1.
 
“Public officials” include anyone who has the authority to spend public funds, other than reimbursement for per­son­al expenses, or to otherwise exercise the power of the state or any political subdivision. 
 
Public officials and public employees must also file a statement the year after they leave public office for their final year in office. Statements of financial interests must be filed on a form provided by the State Ethics Commission. 
 
Those required to file must provide all requested information to the best of their knowledge and sign the form under oath. Disclosure requires identifying sources of income, not amounts. 
 
Townships must keep the statements on file for five years and make them available to the public on request during regular business hours.
 
The commission mails 10 to 20 forms to township secretaries in late December. Additional forms may be obtained from the commission any time, from the county board of elections during election years, or by visiting www.ethics.pa.gov, which also features information about the commission and updates on the Ethics Act.
 
Public officials may file online at the Ethics Commission’s website; however, they must submit a copy or a paper version of the form to the township. 
 
Township officials with questions or comments on filing statements should call the State Ethics Commission toll-free at (800) 932-0936.
 
For more information about filing requirements and other aspects of the law, turn to PSATS’ Ethics Act manual. This compliance guide covers everything township officials and staff need to know about complying with the law and also contains the latest court decisions and Ethics Commission advisories and opinions. To order a copy, visit the PSATS Online Store or call (717) 763-0930.


Urbanized Townships: Increase Tree Cover with TreeVitalize Grants

Thursday April 4th, 2019
Upcoming Webinars Explain Program
 
TreePennsylvania, an independent nonprofit agency, manages the statewide TreeVitalize grant program. Funding is provided by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to promote and develop sustainable urban forestry programs.
 
Annual grants provide funding in three priority areas: tree planting, urban riparian buffers, and community forestry management.
 
Tree-planting grants help municipalities plant trees in community and urban areas along streets, parks, and other publicly accessible areas.
 
Urban riparian buffer grants help municipalities plant forested buffers along community and urban waterways.
 
Community forestry management grants help finance tree care management plans; tree inventories; pruning; short-term employment, including internships; educational workshops and webinars; urban wood use; ordinance development; land banks design; urban agriculture design; and other aspects of urban forestry.
 
Priority is given to projects that:
• involve partnerships and include training/educational components;
• enhance the public’s access to and enjoyment of urban forestry; and/or
• are implemented in environmental justice areas (any census tract where 20 percent or more of the population lives in poverty and/or 30 percent or more of the population is minority).
 
Information on 2020 funding
 
The 2020 grant round is now open. Please note these important dates:
• Letters of intent due:  4 p.m. May 1
• Full applications due: 4 p.m. July 12
• Awards announced: Fall 2019
• Grant term: January 1 to December 31, 2020.
 
An informational webinar about 2020 TreeVitalize grant opportunities and letters of intent will be presented on two dates: 
• April 8 at 10 a.m.
• April 24 at 1 p.m.
 
Preregistration is not necessary. To join a webinar, go to the TreeVitalize Grants Program webpage and scroll down to the webinar information. 
 
For more information, please email Jessica Cavey, program director, at grants@treepennsylvania.org.


Renewable Energy Funding Available

Thursday April 4th, 2019
Funding for several renewable energy programs is available through the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA). Applications are due May 17.
 
• The Alternative and Clean Energy Program provides loans and grants for activities that promote the use, development, and construction of alternative and clean energy, compressed natural gas infrastructure, and liquefied natural gas fueling stations. Energy efficiency and conservation projects are also eligible.
 
• The Renewable Energy - Geothermal and Wind Projects Program provides loans and grants to promote the use of alternative energy.
 
Loans for geothermal systems or wind energy generation or distribution projects may not exceed $5 million or 50 percent of the total project cost, whichever is less.
 
Grants for wind energy generation or distribution projects may not exceed $1 million or 30 percent of the total project cost, whichever is less.
 
• The Solar Energy Program provides loans to promote the use of solar energy. Eligible projects include facilities to generate, distribute, or store solar photovoltaic energy.
 
For more information about these grants, call the state Department of Community and Economic Development’s Center for Business Financing at (717) 787-6245 or go to DCED's energy programs webpage.


Clean Up Your Township During 'Let's Pick It Up PA - Every Day'

Friday March 15th, 2019
Cleaning up trash and litter is a good way to show local pride and make your township attractive. And while that task requires constant attention, “Let’s Pick It Up PA – Every Day,” April 13-May 6, offers the perfect opportunity to put extra focus on keeping your township clean.
 
Local governments, individuals, civic groups, businesses, and other organizations are encouraged to remove litter and trash during this special event. Target areas can include roads, parks, forests, river or stream banks, neighborhoods, and open spaces.
 
This three-week statewide initiative is part of the Great American Cleanup, which runs March through May. 
 
Sponsored by Keep America Beautiful Inc., the Great American Cleanup is the nation’s largest community improvement program. Each year, millions of volunteers collect litter and debris from roadsides, parks, and public lands; clean up illegal dump sites; recycle thousands of tons of metal and tires; and plant trees and flowers.
 
In Pennsylvania, the three-month cleanup is supported and sponsored by the Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful Alliance, a range of businesses, trade organizations, and local and state government entities, including the state departments of Environmental Protection and Transportation. 
 
Townships that decide to participate in “Let’s Pick It Up PA – Every Day” will have plenty of support. For example: 
• PennDOT’s district and county offices will provide free bags, gloves, and safety vests to registered cleanup groups.
• Participating landfills will allow free or discounted disposal of trash collected during registered events.
• County recycling coordinators, conservation districts, cooperative extension offices, and other environmental groups will answer questions and help organize cleanups.
 
Townships should consider asking local community organizations, such as Scout troops and church groups, to roll up their sleeves and lend a hand. Business owners might be willing to donate supplies, such as paint, T-shirts, or refreshments.
 
Popular cleanup activities include:
• planting trees or flower bulbs at a township building or intersection;
• painting a graffiti-marked wall;
• sponsoring a litter collection contest;
• picking up litter along a local road;
• cleaning up a stream, field, or other area that has become an illegal dump site and then posting signs warning against illegal dumping; or
• placing garbage cans in litter-prone areas and arranging for them to be emptied regularly.
 
To learn more about how your township can mobilize residents to help clean up the community, go to www.gacofpa.org. Here, townships can register their activities, find other events in the area, and get tips on holding a successful cleanup.
 
Townships may also contact Michelle Dunn of Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful toll-free at (877) 772-3673, ext. 113, or email mdunn@keeppabeautiful.org.


Deadline Extended for Rural Broadband Funding

Monday February 11th, 2019
Townships in rural areas that lack high-speed broadband can apply for funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Rural eConnectivity Pilot Program (ReConnect). The deadline for applications has been pushed back to at least May 31, 2019. New specific deadlines for ReConnect Program grants, loans, and grant-loan combination applications will be posted in the Federal Register in late February.
 
Telecommunications companies, rural electric cooperatives and utilities, internet service providers, and municipalities may apply for funding through the ReConnect Program to connect rural areas that currently have insufficient broadband service. USDA is making available about $200 million for grants, $200 million for low-interest loans, and $200 million for loan and grant combinations.
 
Funds will be awarded to projects that have a financially-sustainable business model to bring high-speed broadband to rural homes, businesses, farms, ranches, and community facilities, such as first responders, healthcare sites, and schools.
 
USDA is hosting a webinar with general information about the ReConnect program and guidance from experts for potential applicants. The webinar is open to the public and interested parties. It will be held February 13 at 2 p.m.
 
For more information about the ReConnect program, visit the ReConnect webpage


Apply for Environmental Grants Funded by Act 13 Impact Fees

Tuesday January 15th, 2019
The Commonwealth Financing Authority is accepting applications for grants funded by Act 13 drilling impact fees for watershed restoration, abandoned mine drainage abatement, baseline water quality data, orphaned or abandoned well plugging, sewage facilities, flood mitigation programs, and recreation. The deadline for applications is May 31, 2019.
 
These grants are funded by the Act 13 drilling impact fees paid by natural gas drillers.
 
Here’s a quick summary of what’s available and the links for more details:
 
• Watershed Restoration: The overall goal of the Watershed Restoration and Protection Program is to restore and maintain restored stream reaches impaired by the uncontrolled discharge of nonpoint source polluted runoff, and ultimately to remove these streams from the Department of Environmental Protection’s Impaired Waters list.
 
• Abandoned Mine Drainage (AMD) Abatement and Treatment: Eligible projects include the reclamation of abandoned mine well(s); construction of a new AMD site; remediation and repair of existing AMD project sites; operation and maintenance of current AMD remediation sites; establishment of a trust fund to ensure ongoing maintenance; and monitoring of water quality to track or continue to trace nonpoint source load reductions resulting from AMD remediation projects.
 
Orphan or Abandoned Well Plugging Program: Eligible projects include the cleaning out and plugging of abandoned and orphaned oil and gas wells; stray gas mitigation systems; and well venting projects.
 
Baseline Water Quality Data: Eligible projects include practices for water sample collection and analysis to document existing groundwater quality conditions on private water supplies.
 
Sewage Facilities Program: Eligible costs are those associated with the planning work required under Act 537 Sewage Facilities Act.
 
•  Flood Mitigation: Eligible projects are those authorized by a flood protection authority, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) or the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) or identified by a local government for flood mitigation.
 
Greenways, Trails, And Recreation Program: Eligible projects  involve development, rehabilitation, and improvements to public parks, recreation areas, greenways, trails, and river conservation.
 
Applicants are strongly urged to contact their House and Senate member to make them aware that they intend to submit an application for funding under these programs and ask for their endorsement.
 
For more information and instructions on how to apply, visit the Commonwealth Financing Authority Act 13 Programs webpage. Questions should be directed to (717) 787-6245.


Funds Available for Rural Fire Departments

Monday December 31st, 2018
Rural or volunteer fire departments that serve communities with fewer than 10,000 people are eligible for funding from the U.S. Forest Service Volunteer Fire Assistance Program. Departments in townships with more than 10,000 people may apply as long as the department covers a rural area or community with a maximum population of 10,000. The application period opens February 26 and closes May 2, 2019.
 
The grants, administered by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Bureau of Forestry, help rural fire departments organize, train, and equip firefighters to prevent and suppress fires that threaten human life, livestock, wildlife, crops, pastures, orchards, woodlands, farmsteads, or other improvements in rural areas. The key objectives of this program are to save lives and protect property.
 
This is a cost-share program. Financial assistance on any project during any fiscal year may not exceed 50 percent of the actual expenditures, including those of local, public, and private nonprofit organizations participating in the agreement. The maximum grant award is $7,500.
 
Grants may be used to purchase wildfire suppression equipment, protective gear, and mobile or portable radios; install dry hydrants; prevent and mitigate wildfires; or attend wildfire training. Funds may also be used to convert and maintain federal excess vehicles received from the Bureau of Forestry and used for fire suppression.
 
Priority will be given to projects that include the purchase of wildfire suppression equipment and protective gear. Grants may not be used for structural fire equipment or protective gear, supply hose larger than 2½ inches in diameter, structures, routine maintenance of vehicles not received from the Bureau of Forestry, medical services, ambulance services, fire police equipment and gear, or search and rescue equipment and gear.
 
Applications must be submitted online. For updated grant program deadlines and to apply for a grant, go to www.grants.dcnr.state.pa.us or call toll-free (800) 326-7734.