Merski, Harkins: $75,000 grant will fund home repairs for Erie residents

(1 day ago)

ERIE, Oct. 29 – Low- to moderate-income Erie homeowners will get some assistance with needed housing repairs, thanks to a $75,000 grant to the City of Erie from the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the grant will fund individual projects to enhance housing safety. “Above all else, home should be a safe haven during the pandemic,” Merski said. “Residents struggling to meet basic household expenses should not have to worry about malfunctioning heating equipment or structural defects that threaten their families’ safety.” Harkins agreed, saying, “Thanks to this funding, eligible homeowners will be able to apply for assistance with projects like fixing faulty hot water tanks or furnaces, renovating dangerous structural elements like broken porch railings, and completing other small projects that are key to keeping their loved ones safe.” The legislators said the application process is expected to begin sometime in the next month – with additional details to come – and will be available for households with incomes below 50% of the area median income. Individual projects cannot exceed $3,000. Read more

 

Merski, Bizzarro Harkins: Liquor license fee waiver will help area bars, restaurants

(Oct 22, 2020)

ERIE, Oct. 22 – A state plan in the works to waive liquor license fees for Pennsylvania’s struggling bars, restaurants and clubs during 2021 will bring an important measure of relief for these critical local businesses, state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, all D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the administration’s plan – which is awaiting final approval from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board – would allow local restaurant and bar owners retain the critical capital they need to stay afloat. “Months of operating under pandemic restrictions have exacted a devastating toll on our area’s family restaurants, bars and clubs, and some creative solutions were definitely needed to help them survive,” Merski said. “Last week, I joined several colleagues in asking the governor to work out a fee waiver plan. “Although it’s not a cure-all for the huge financial challenges that lay ahead and a restaurant relief package is needed as soon as possible, the waiver will help these local mom-and-pop businesses that are so very important to our local economy, and any relief we can provide now is a good thing.” Bizzarro said, “I am happy to see progress being made to support the service industry. These savings will provide great relief to the local restaurants, bars and clubs that have served as a backdrop for many of Read more

 

Bizzarro, Merski, Harkins: $1.5 million grant will expand Innovation Beehive, spur business growth

(Oct 15, 2020)

ERIE, Oct. 15 – A $1,499,225 million grant will allow the Northwest Pennsylvania Innovation Beehive Network to expand and serve more area entrepreneurs and businesses, according to state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Bob Merski, and Pat Harkins, all D-Erie. The lawmakers said the grant to Penn State University from the Appalachian Regional Commission will fund a project to expand the Beehive’s reach and services, helping it to spur new businesses and support existing ones throughout the region and beyond, into Southern New York and Ohio. “The Beehive is a one-of-a-kind resource that harnesses the talents of our area’s best minds and pools resources to provide specialized expertise and services to businesses and entrepreneurs,” Bizzarro said. “Securing this funding means that the collaborative’s grant-funded centers will be able cast a wider net and serve more businesses and entrepreneurs, generating more economic activity and jobs for our region.” Merski agreed, saying, “With the new funding, more area businesses, inventors and entrepreneurs will benefit from the Beehive’s unique faculty and student-based services, which include everything from graphic design and video production to consulting and market analysis. The new project is going to help the collaborative expand into new services and areas as it supports hundreds of businesses, helps create new ventures and leverages thousands in private investment. Read more

 

Merski alerts residents to one-stop-shop voting option

(Oct 13, 2020)

ERIE, Oct. 13 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, wants to be sure residents are aware of a simple, one-stop-shop voting option that allows them to apply for, obtain, and cast a mail-in ballot all in one visit to the Erie County Voter Registration Office. “With the election right around the corner, it’s time to start preparing, especially if folks plan to vote by mail but have not yet applied for a mail-in ballot,” Merski said. “I want to be sure everyone is aware of a simple, one-stop-shop option that allows residents to visit the Erie County Voter Registration Office, located in Room 112 of the Erie County Courthouse at 140 W. 6 th St. “Once there, residents can apply for and obtain a mail-in ballot, vote that ballot, and cast it by dropping it in the office’s drop box – all in one simple visit. With all the complications the pandemic has brought, it’s a great way to take care of an important civic responsibility ahead of time and get everything squared away. “Of course, residents who want to vote by mail but don’t want to venture out can still apply online for a mail-in ballot by visiting www.votespa.com . Whichever option people choose, it’s a good idea to make a plan now, because the county must receive your application for a mail-in or absentee ballot by 5 p.m. Oct. 27.” Merski added that residents who already chose a Read more

 

Merski, Harkins announce nearly $97,000 in fire grants

(Oct 08, 2020)

ERIE, Oct. 8 – State Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today that four fire companies in their districts will be receiving $96,849 in state grants for operational expenses incurred because of COVID-19. The lawmakers said the grants are being awarded by the Office of State Fire Commissioner to offset expenses related to the pandemic. “The pandemic has compounded the financial burden on our fire and EMS services in so many ways, forcing departments to acquire new protective equipment and answer a higher volume of calls,” Merski said. “This funding should help alleviate the financial strain and ensure our incredibly dedicated first responders have what they need to continue their lifesaving work.” Harkins agreed, saying, “Before the pandemic, fire and rescue companies were able to count on fundraising events as a source of supplemental income, but that revenue source has dried up because of COVID-19. At the same time, rescue workers are expected to be out there answering a high volume of calls while fighting new risks. It’s a tough job made tougher, but it’s our hope that this grant funding will help.” The lawmakers said the following fire companies will receive the following amounts: Belle Valley Fire Department Inc. – $23,425. City of Erie Fire Department – $25,342. Lawrence Park Volunteer Fire Department – $22,740. Read more

 

Merski, Harkins applaud administration’s move to loosen crowd limits

(Oct 06, 2020)

ERIE, Oct. 6 – State Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, today lauded news that the governor is loosening crowd restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings beginning Friday, Oct. 9. “We have been working with the governor to have reasonable limits that allow people to attend events, while maintaining the safety that is critical for combatting COVID-19,” Merski said. “I think these new restrictions meet the moment, allowing parents to attend sporting events and making accommodations for the size of venues. “We still need everyone to be smart and responsible – wear their masks and maintain social distance – while enjoying events and functions. Our community is ready to stand together and show that we support one another. I’m confident that we can do this safely and responsibly.” Harkins agreed, saying, “We have worked with the governor to find positive solutions that will work for people around the state going forward, and I am truly optimistic about today’s news that crowd limits are being relaxed. “Practicing safety and coming together as a community are not mutually exclusive. We all need something to cheer about, and the simple act of being able to go out in the stands and celebrate together is good for our mental health. It’s a step toward normal at a time when that’s needed most.” More information about changes announced by the Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: Area food bank receives $50,000 Veterans Trust Fund grant

(Sep 18, 2020)

ERIE, Sept. 18 – A $50,000 grant from the state Veterans Trust Fund to Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania will benefit the food bank’s program helping veterans and their families, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the funding will support Second Harvest’s Military Share program, which is designed to provide fresh, nutritious foods for families with at least one member who has served in the armed forces. “I am proud to have Second Harvest Food Bank operating in my district,” Merski said. “The work they do transcends legislative boundaries, and I am thrilled to work with my Erie colleagues to get them the funding they need to continue this great work. This grant will help feed Erie veterans and their families in need and is a valiant use of state resources.” Harkins added: “No one should have to worry where their next meal is coming from, especially the brave servicemen and women who’ve selflessly served our country. Second Harvest Food Bank serves Erie well, and it’s heartening to see Erie tax dollars return to serve those who have served us.” More information on the grant program is available here . Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: Erie Access Improvement Grant Program now open

(Sep 18, 2020)

ERIE, Sept. 18 – Applications are now being accepted for the recently expanded Erie Access Improvement Grant Program, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the grants are open to public entities that are interested in acquiring land or other property rights, developing or improving public access sites, or carrying out other projects that benefit public fishing in the Lake Erie watershed. “We are excited that the program is open for applications, especially because it was recently expanded to fund a broader range of projects, including fish-cleaning stations and other projects to benefit publish fishing,” Harkins said. “We are looking forward to seeing more projects that allow residents to take fuller advantage of the lake and opportunities it offers.” Merski, who sits on the House Game and Fisheries Committee, said, “The Lake Erie Watershed offers tremendous benefits for our region, from recreation, to commerce to tourism. Projects that expand access to the lake and fishing allow more residents and visitors to enjoy this unique Erie gem while also helping our local economy. We are encouraging public entities to apply as soon as possible.” Act 56 of 2020 expanded Erie Access Improvement Grant Program funding – previously limited to access and habitat-related projects – to a more diverse Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: $430,000 in grant funding to support Erie fresh food providers

(Sep 17, 2020)

ERIE, Sept. 17 – Grant funding of $430,000 will help two important Erie food retailers continue supplying the community with fresh, nutritious meat, produce and other staples, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the funding, awarded under the Fresh Food Financing Initiative and funded by the federal CARES Act, includes $350,000 to Gordon’s Market LLC and $80,000 to Whole Foods Cooperative. “When the pandemic arrived, local retailers providing fresh, perishable food faced unprecedented obstacles, including revenue shortfalls, supply storages and transportation issues,” Merski said. “Securing this funding is going to help fortify these important local businesses and provide the resources they need to adapt to changing conditions so they can continue to be there to serve our communities.” Harkins agreed, saying: “Access to nutrition is more important than ever as the pandemic strains budgets for small businesses and families alike. Securing this funding is going to help families – and particularly lower-income households – maintain that vital link to the fresh, healthy food that helps residents stave off illness and stay strong through trying times.” The funding is part of a package of $10 million in funding to 115 retailers in 39 counties. Grocery stores, cooperative entities, farmers’ Read more

 

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: Nearly $257,000 in grants to bolster Erie arts, cultural, natural science attractions impacted by pandemic

(Sep 15, 2020)

ERIE, Sept. 15 – Four grants totaling $256,916 will help key Erie arts, cultural and natural science attractions offset revenue losses caused by the pandemic, state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, all D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the grants approved by the Commonwealth Financing Authority include $125,052 to the Erie Zoological Society, $63,179 to the Erie Philharmonic, $43,685 to the Erie Playhouse and $25,000 to the expERIEnce Children’s Museum. “Erie has a wealth of unique resources, from our community of talented artists, musicians and performers to our museums and zoo,” Bizzarro said. “Unfortunately, the organizations that showcase those resources – and enhance area tourism – have been deeply impacted by the pandemic. Securing this funding will help them offset losses and regain strength so they can resume their role in enriching our community and stimulating our economy.” Harkins said, “Like other businesses and organizations, many of the attractions that make our Erie community special – our philharmonic, playhouse, children’s museum and zoo – have felt the impact of empty concert halls and exhibit rooms. Our unique zoo – which has served our region for more than 90 years and welcomes more than 300,000 visitors annually – has lost more than $1.6 million in revenue. These grants will help bolster these beloved Read more

 

Reps. Bizzarro, Harkins and Merski announce $74,000+ grant to LECOM

(Sep 10, 2020)

ERIE, Sept. 10 – Erie state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Bob Merski and Pat Harkins today announced $74,376 was allocated to Lake Erie College of Medicine to improve educational services amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant, awarded through the Governor's Emergency Education Relief Funds, aims to help schools and other educational agencies implement public health and safety plans to resume safe operations this fall. “Students deserve access to a quality educational experience and through these unprecedented times, this funding will help LECOM continue to provide that. This pandemic has caused many life disruptions, but it’s also shown us a resiliency and determination to come out stronger, smarter and more considerate. These resources will help LECOM prepare a whole new workforce that will be equipped for the challenges of tomorrow,” Bizzarro said. Merski said, “As a former teacher, I know that the safety of our students and staff is paramount as we educate during the pandemic. This grant will help LECOM and our local education providers develop the best plans to resume teaching while at the same time ensuring that students enjoy the safest possible learning environment.” Harkins said, “LECOM’s dedicated educators and administrators are committed to providing exceptional training for young adults, but the pandemic has made that more complicated. Securing this funding Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: $22,500 grant will ensure urban development preserves Erie history, character

(Sep 09, 2020)

ERIE, Sept. 9 – A $22,500 project planning grant awarded by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission will ensure that future development preserves the character and history of Erie’s landscape, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the grant to the Erie Downtown Partnership, which comes from the Keystone Historic Preservation Grant Program, will fund critical planning to guide future development. “Erie’s proud history and character are evident in our landscape, and any improvements made must preserve that character,” Merski said. “Securing this funding will help ensure that future development is executed in a way that maintains those special features that are uniquely Erie and beloved by generations of residents.” Harkins agreed, saying, “A key aspect of urban planning is ensuring that any changes made don’t erase the imprint of past generations that contribute to a city’s unique character and history. The funding awarded today will allow the Erie Downtown Partnership to develop design guidelines for the city’s 14-block core that ensure developers understand the significance of defining features so progress can happen without destroying well-loved landmarks and features from the past.” The grant is part of a package of $2.6 million in Keystone Historic Preservation grants to help historical and Read more

 

Harkins, Merski, Bizzarro urge state to expand hazard grants

(Aug 26, 2020)

ERIE, Aug. 26 – Saying it creates an unfair situation that arbitrarily rewards some workers but not others, state Reps. Pat Harkins, Bob Merski and Ryan Bizzarro, all D-Erie, are calling on officials to revisit the state’s hazard pay grant program, which they claim unfairly excluded thousands of essential workers. In a letter to Dennis Davin, secretary of the state Department of Community and Economic Development, the lawmakers and several other colleagues from the Northwest Democratic Caucus are demanding a new round of grants. “Hazard pay is designed to compensate workers for braving dangerous conditions on the job,” Harkins said. “With the advent of the pandemic, the risks may arise in different ways, but they all amount to the same basic danger: the possibility of contracting a potentially deadly illness. It’s illogical and irresponsible for the state to separate out some workers as more deserving of hazard pay than others.” “Essential workers are just that – essential to the commonwealth,” Bizzarro said. “Whether they are transporting a patient by ambulance, providing nursing care or dispensing a prescription, they are all serving acute needs and, in the process, knowingly exposing themselves to danger. By selectively designating some essential workers as eligible for hazard pay but not others, we are suggesting that some are more deserving than others when nothing Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: More than $44,500 in targeted funding will help underperforming students

(Aug 26, 2020)

ERIE, Aug. 26 – A grant of $44,583 will help bring targeted assistance to schools with underperforming students, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the funding awarded under the Governor's Emergency Education Relief Fund will go to Northwest Tri-County Intermediate Unit 5, the educational service agency serving Erie, Crawford and Warren counties. “As the new school year begins, we like to think every student will be starting from the same place, with the same opportunities,” Merski said. “Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Many traditionally underserved schools – including some here in Erie – have student groups that underperform, and that issue is only compounded by the pandemic. “Just as we have worked to keep all students safe during COVID-19, it’s incumbent on us to ensure that all students have the same opportunities to thrive and advance. The targeted support this funding will provide is a great step in the right direction.” Harkins said, “Successful businesses and industries need a diverse, talented pool of workers to survive, and that can’t happen when significant numbers of students fall behind. This funding is going to help ensure students identified as underperforming have the support they need to flourish. Ultimately, they are our next-generation workforce, and an investment in them is an investment in Read more

 

Merski chairs House Democratic Policy Committee hearing on instructing students during COVID-19

(Aug 25, 2020)

ERIE, Aug. 25 – Ensuring safe education during the pandemic was the topic of a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing chaired by state Rep. Bob Merski today at the state Capitol. Merski, D-Erie, requested the hearing to bring lawmakers up to date on school district preparedness and ongoing needs. “Many schools will be providing regular, in-class instruction as we begin the new year,” Merski said. “School administrators and educators have worked hard to put detailed safety plans in place; this hearing was an opportunity for us to hear details of those plans and also learn what actions we can take here in Harrisburg to ensure continuing school safety for the duration of the pandemic." Merski and other lawmakers heard testimony from: Richard Emerick, superintendent of Fort LeBoeuf School District, and Ian Roberts, superintendent of Millcreek Township School District – Both officials testified about measures schools have implemented – including daily temperature checks, hand sanitization stations, reduced class sizes, reconfigured classrooms and staggered dismissal times, among other measures – to keep students and staff safe. Aaron Chapin, vice president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association – Chapin testified regarding PSEA’s recommendations for emergency legislation, including, among other measures, a bill Merski is Read more

 

8/25/20 – Instructing Students During COVID-19 – Harrisburg

(Aug 25, 2020)

Materials from a House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing held in the Capitol and co-chaired by State Rep. Bob Merski. Read more

 

House Democratic Policy Committee to hold Tuesday hearing in Capitol on instructing students during COVID-19

(Aug 20, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Aug. 20 – State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, announced today that the House Democratic Policy Committee will hold a public hearing on instructing students during COVID-19. The hearing will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 25 in Room G-50 Irvis Office Building in Harrisburg. The media and public are invited to watch the livestream at www.pahouse.com/live . Requested by Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, the hearing will feature testimony from school districts in Erie County and educators. Testifiers will speak remotely, while members will participate in person and remotely. Testifiers will include: Brian Polito , superintendent, Erie School District. Richard Emerck , superintendent, Fort LeBoeuf School District. Ian Roberts , superintendent, Millcreek Township School District. Aaron Chapin , vice president, Pennsylvania State Education Association. Following the hearing, testimonies and full hearing video will be posted at www.pahouse.com/policycommittee . Read more

 

Merski, Bizzarro Harkins: Nearly $190,000 to help students with special needs retain crucial skills during pandemic

(Aug 20, 2020)

ERIE, Aug. 20 – Funding of $189,895 to six area schools and districts will help ensure Erie students with special needs are not left behind during the pandemic, state Reps. Bob Merski, Pat Harkins and Ryan Bizzarro, all D-Erie, announced. “One of the most difficult aspects of the pandemic from a learning standpoint has been the loss of classroom learning,” Merski said. “All students benefit from in-person instruction, but for students with special needs, specifically designed instruction can be essential. This funding will help provide those extra services to ensure students with special needs don’t fall behind and are prepared to tackle the new year with skills intact.” “Our exceptionally dedicated teachers and special education staff are doing what they can to ensure students with special needs don’t fall behind during the pandemic,” Bizzarro said. “Nevertheless, gaps in classroom learning have posed special challenges requiring additional resources. This funding is going to put those resources into educators’ hands so they are able to supplement remote learning with real-time instruction and ensure vulnerable students continue to thrive.” “Inclusion is the key to ensuring our next generation is equipped to face the future and step into good-paying jobs,” Harkins said. “But that means giving all of our students an equal opportunity to advance. When Read more

 

Hazard Pay Grants will help bolster Erie frontline worker pay

(Aug 17, 2020)

Hazard Pay Grants will help bolster Erie frontline worker pay HARRISBURG, Aug. 17 -- Thanks to the COVID-19 PA Hazard Pay Grants, Erie businesses will receive $331,800 to boost pay to front-line workers helping the community through the pandemic announced Erie state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski. The following Erie-based service providers were awarded grants through the program to help boost essential workers’ pay from Aug. 16 through Oct. 24: $183,600 - LifeServices Management Corp., Westlake Woods Assisted Living Community, Southwoods Assisted Living Community, Hawthorne Woods Assisted Living Community, Richland Woods Assisted Living Community, and The Winds at Mattern Orchard Assisted Living Community. $169,440 - The Sarah A. Reed Retirement Center. “These grants will help front-line workers earn a living wage as they jeopardize their, and their family’s, health and safety by going to work, keeping shelves stocked, caring for children, keeping health care facilities clean, transporting our neighbors and more,” Bizzarro said. “Specifically, the workers of Erie’s care facilities have faced many challenges caring for our most at-risk population and their hard work and dedication more than deserves this boost in pay.” “Since the start of the pandemic, assisted living and nursing care workers have shown up day after day – under the Read more

 

Merski: More than $720,000 in grants to improve, expand sanitation services in Summit Township

(Aug 17, 2020)

ERIE, Aug. 17 – Dual grants to the Summit Township Sewer Authority totaling $721,125 will fund a sanitary system upgrade for higher-capacity, more efficient operations and expansion of services to additional properties, state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, announced today. Merski said the grants – both funded under the Commonwealth Financing Authority’s Small Water and Sewer Program – include $ 367,415 to install a new interceptor sewer, a large sewer line that transports sewage from branch lines directly to the treatment plant and $353,710 to expand sanitary sewer service to more properties. “These grants are investments in community health, but they will also work to make Summit Township stronger and more prosperous by funding upgrades that will eliminate system overloads, offer taxpayers and businesses greater efficiency and expand service to new populations,” Merski said. “I’m so excited for the township to reap the benefits of the new and expanded infrastructure.” Merski said the interceptor will provide additional capacity to the authority’s Route 97 sewer shed sanitary sewer conveyance system. By transporting sewage generated from south of Interstate 90 that is pumped by the Route 97 pump station, the new interceptor will eliminate a conveyance bottleneck north of Interstate 90. The project involves installation of more than 1,500 Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: $75,000 grant will fund home repairs for Erie residents
1 day ago

Merski, Bizzarro Harkins: Liquor license fee waiver will help area bars, restaurants
Oct 22, 2020

Bizzarro, Merski, Harkins: $1.5 million grant will expand Innovation Beehive, spur business growth
Oct 15, 2020

Merski alerts residents to one-stop-shop voting option
Oct 13, 2020

Merski, Harkins announce nearly $97,000 in fire grants
Oct 08, 2020

Merski, Harkins applaud administration’s move to loosen crowd limits
Oct 06, 2020

Merski, Harkins: Area food bank receives $50,000 Veterans Trust Fund grant
Sep 18, 2020

Harkins, Merski: Erie Access Improvement Grant Program now open
Sep 18, 2020

Merski, Harkins: $430,000 in grant funding to support Erie fresh food providers
Sep 17, 2020

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: Nearly $257,000 in grants to bolster Erie arts, cultural, natural science attractions impacted by pandemic
Sep 15, 2020

Reps. Bizzarro, Harkins and Merski announce $74,000+ grant to LECOM
Sep 10, 2020

Merski, Harkins: $22,500 grant will ensure urban development preserves Erie history, character
Sep 09, 2020

Harkins, Merski, Bizzarro urge state to expand hazard grants
Aug 26, 2020

Merski, Harkins: More than $44,500 in targeted funding will help underperforming students
Aug 26, 2020

Merski chairs House Democratic Policy Committee hearing on instructing students during COVID-19
Aug 25, 2020

8/25/20 – Instructing Students During COVID-19 – Harrisburg
Aug 25, 2020

House Democratic Policy Committee to hold Tuesday hearing in Capitol on instructing students during COVID-19
Aug 20, 2020

Merski, Bizzarro Harkins: Nearly $190,000 to help students with special needs retain crucial skills during pandemic
Aug 20, 2020

Hazard Pay Grants will help bolster Erie frontline worker pay
Aug 17, 2020

Merski: More than $720,000 in grants to improve, expand sanitation services in Summit Township
Aug 17, 2020