Merski, Harkins: More than $350,000 in grant funding will bring fresh produce to Erie elementary schools

(22 hours ago)

ERIE, Aug. 4 – Erie elementary school students will see more fresh fruits and vegetables on the menu, thanks to $354,705 in grant funding awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said funding under the USDA’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program includes $311,870 to elementary schools in the Erie City School District and $42,835 to the Iroquois School District. “Decades of studies show a direct link between nutrition and kids’ ability to focus and learn, and it’s something I have seen firsthand during my years in the classroom,” Merski said. “Securing this funding is going to help ensure Erie’s grade-schoolers have access to those dietary benefits, regardless of household income." Harkins said, “I’m thrilled we were able to secure this funding. In addition to staving off hunger and providing the kinds of healthy menu options kids need to do well in class, fresh fruits and vegetables are key to boosting the immune system and fighting disease. That’s more important than ever this year.” The lawmakers said the grants are part of a package of more than $7 million awarded to 288 elementary schools statewide under the FFVP. Funding priority was given to the schools with the highest rates of students eligible for free and Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: Nearly $500,000 awarded to fight blight, boost urban renewal in Erie

(Aug 02, 2021)

Erie, Aug. 2 – State grant funding of $482,251 will boost projects to clear blight and revitalize Erie’s urban landscape, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said three grants awarded by the state Department of Community and Economic Development under the Keystone Communities Program are: $229,251 to the City of Erie for the West Eighth Street Anchor Buildings Project. $150,000 to the Erie Redevelopment Authority for the City of Erie Blight Reduction Project. $103,000 to the PA Route 6 Alliance for the PA Route 6 Façade Program in the Great Lakes. “The grant to the city for the West Eighth Street Anchor Buildings Project is extremely exciting because it will build on investments and projects already underway to renew and regrow Erie’s commercial corridor,” Merski said. “With the additional funding, the city can continue efforts to anchor revitalization of this key section of the city with new residential and commercial spaces that draw families, businesses and jobs.” Harkins said the funding to the redevelopment authority will allow it to continue battling blight. “The redevelopment authority has been working hard to acquire abandoned and distressed properties and demolish or renovate them,” Harkins said. “While those efforts are Read more

 

Merski: Erie Water awarded $6.5 million to replace 1,300 service connections

(Jul 23, 2021)

Connections include lead components between water main, property lines Read more

 

Merski hosting grant seminar for small businesses, nonprofits

(Jul 22, 2021)

ERIE, July 22 – Area businesses and nonprofits can get expert tips on tapping into state funding opportunities by attending “A Guide to Pennsylvania Grants” – an Aug. 5 seminar co-hosted by state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. The event will be held at 10 a.m. in the Admiral Room of the Blasco Library, at 160 E. Front St. “With so many small businesses and nonprofits still hurting from the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to know what funding opportunities are out there and how to tap into them,” Merski said. “Our seminar will feature expert tips and a question-and-answer session to help business owners and organizations maximize their chances for success.” Merski said participants will receive a copy of the updated grant guide and state literature with contact information. Attendance is limited, so those interested should RSVP in advance by calling 814-455-6319. Anyone who cannot attend but would like a copy of the updated grant guide can pick one up at Merski’s 3901 Liberty St. office Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Read more

 

Harkins, Merski announce nearly $103,000 in fire, EMS grants

(Jun 30, 2021)

ERIE, June 30 -- State Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced that fire and rescue crews in their districts will be receiving $102,670 in state grant funding for equipment, training and other needed resources. “Our fire and EMS companies really took a hit during the pandemic,” Harkins said. “In addition to dealing with new risks and logistical issues, departments lost critical fundraising income because of shutdowns and restrictions. This grant funding should ease the burden a bit for those who work so hard at the front lines.” Merski said: “Departments have been dealing with recruitment, retention and funding issues for years, but the past year added a whole new layer of challenges. This funding won’t solve the longstanding issues, but it will at least allow departments to upgrade aging equipment, perform building repairs and ensure crews have the ongoing training and other resources they need to stay safe on the job.” The lawmakers said the funding includes : Belle Valley Fire Department Inc. – fire company, $12,767. City of Erie Fire Department – fire company, $15,000. EmergyCare Inc. – EMS, $8,993. Lawrence Park Volunteer Fire Department – fire company, $11,698. Lawrence Park Volunteer Fire Department – EMS, $8,993. Perry Hi-Way Hose Co. – fire company, $15,000. Perry Hi-Way Hose Co. – EMS, $8,993. Read more

 

Merski: Budget full of missed opportunities

(Jun 26, 2021)

HARRISBURG, June 26 – Saying that it fell “far short of what the moment requires,” state Rep. Bob Merski cast a “no” vote Friday for the Pennsylvania budget plan. Merski, D-Erie, cited multiple missed opportunities to fully fund education and provide meaningful assistance to small businesses and working families. “Although I was glad to see a $7 million increase to the Erie School District, it's merely 10% of what the governor proposed in his budget,” Merski said. “We had a chance to be bold and finally fully fund education, something we've been talking about for decades now. “We also had an opportunity to invest in our small businesses, including my bill to provide assistance to our local gyms, fitness centers and dance schools, but we left those small businesses hanging while they are still hurting and not fully recovered from the pandemic.” Merski acknowledged that there are some positive aspects to the new state spending plan. “While the shortfalls made it impossible for me to vote for the budget, there are some encouraging aspects to the plan,” Merski said. “Importantly, it holds the line on taxes so it will not add any new burdens on residents, and it will provide rent and utility assistance. "And while education funding fell far short of the full, fair funding we need, the Read more

 

Merski kicks off 2021 ‘flag takeback’ program

(Jun 14, 2021)

ERIE, June 14 – As the nation celebrates Flag Day, state Rep. Bob Merski announced that he is kicking off his annual flag takeback program, providing Erie residents an easy way to retire their worn, torn or faded American flags. Merski, D-Erie, is sponsoring the program in partnership with Summit Township to help residents prepare for the July 4 holiday. “If you’re preparing to fly your flag this Fourth and find that the colors are faded or the cloth is a bit worn or tattered, you can bring it to our office, and we will retire it for you,” Merski said. “You can rest assured that we will dispose of it properly, with the respect and dignity Old Glory deserves.” Merski said residents can drop off flags at the following office locations: District office - 3901 Liberty St., 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Summit office - 1230 Townhall Road W., 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. every Tuesday. The program will run through July 16. Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: More than $1 million awarded to bolster Erie County probation services, substance abuse treatment and education

(Jun 09, 2021)

ERIE, June 9 – More than $1 million in grants from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency will improve Erie County probation services, help offenders transition to productive lives in the community and bolster resources for residents battling substance abuse, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the county will use some of the funding to boost programs that cut recidivism rates by offering effective alternatives to jail time. “Court-ordered treatment programs can sometimes accomplish much more than incarceration by addressing addiction, mental illness and other root causes of crime,” Harkins said. “That gives offenders a better chance of returning to the community in productive roles rather than landing back in prison. It also saves taxpayers the costs of incarceration, reunites families and puts people back to work so they can contribute to the economy.” Merski said, “In addition to strengthening probation services and court-ordered treatment programs, some of the funding awarded today will bring new hope for residents battling substance abuse by allowing the county to implement family behavior therapy. These intensive programs include in-home intervention that can rebuild lives and restore family relationships, creating benefits that flow to the whole community.” The grants – which also provide Read more

 

Merski bill to revitalize fitness industry heads to House chamber

(Jun 09, 2021)

HARRISBURG, June 9 – The House Commerce Committee today unanimously approved a bill that would pump new life back into Pennsylvania’s hard-hit fitness industry, state Rep. Bob Merski announced today. Merski, D-Erie, said his H.B. 1438 would establish a COVID-19 recovery grant program for gyms, spas, dance studios and other fitness-related businesses to speed relief to an industry that was brought to a standstill during the pandemic. “The pandemic created hardships for all local businesses, but for fitness-related businesses like gyms, spas and dance studios, the impact of prolonged shutdowns has been devastating,” Merski said. “These businesses play an important role in local communities, helping people stay healthy and forging social bonds while boosting the local economy. “During the pandemic, gym owners faithfully complied with mitigation orders, shuttering venues and drastically reducing capacities. Now, it’s time to help them get back on their feet and moving again. By restoring the vitality of the industry, we help our entire economy grow stronger.” Merski said the COVID-19 Community Fitness Business Grant Program would allow fitness-related businesses with less than $1 million in annual gross receipts to apply for grants of up to $20,000 to help cover losses. Businesses would need to provide proof of losses and a plan for how the money will be used. The bill now heads to the full House for consideration. Read more

 

Merski reopening Summit Township satellite office June 8

(Jun 03, 2021)

ERIE, June 3 – State Rep. Bob Merski announced today that he is reopening his satellite office in Summit Township on Tuesday, June 8. Merski, D-Erie, said the office – located in the Summit Township Municipal Building at 1230 Townhall Road West – will resume regular walk-in service every Tuesday during the same 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. hours that were in effect before the pandemic. “We understand that Summit Township and Belle Valley residents have missed the convenience of being able to drop into the municipal building for help with state-related questions and problems,” Merski said. “With the change in COVID-19 mitigation orders, we are delighted to reopen this location. “In addition to helping with state-related questions and problems, my talented staff can assist residents in applying for a variety of programs, including the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. I encourage residents to drop in any Tuesday.” Merski said residents wishing to schedule an appointment for a day other than Tuesday should call 814-455-6319. Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: $50,000 awarded to support Erie historical preservation efforts

(Jun 02, 2021)

ERIE, June 2 – State grants totaling $50,000 from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission will fund projects to preserve and promote Erie’s unique history, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the commission awarded two separate grants under the Keystone Historic Preservation Grant Program, including $25,000 each to the city of Erie and Presque Isle Light Station. “Erie’s history is filled with fascinating stories and places, but preserving them takes planning and preparation,” Merski said. “The funding awarded today is going to help ensure that historic sites like the Presque Isle Lighthouse and other uniquely Erie landmarks are around for future generations.” Harkins said, “This funding is truly an educational investment, because it will help us preserve the kind of connections to our past that future generations can touch and see and visit. Those insights into our roots are invaluable.” The lawmakers said the funding will go to the following projects: City of Erie – $25,000 to support newly formed historic preservation program The funding will allow the city to update its historic resource ordinance, create a permanent Historic Review Commission, pursue Certified Local Government designation, and hire a preservation planner to help develop a three-year plan for Read more

 

Nearly $7,500 to bolster urban agriculture in the Erie curriculum

(May 12, 2021)

ERIE, May 12 – Erie students will benefit from hands-on lessons in urban agriculture, thanks to a $7,478 grant that will support the Erie City School District’s urban greenhouse and garden project, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the funding under the state Department of Agriculture’s Ag and Youth Program – the second set of urban agricultural grants to Erie this month – will teach highly practical lessons in an outdoor classroom setting. “The past year has shown us the importance of equipping the next generation with skills that can empower residents in times of hardship and help our community be better prepared during emergencies and food shortages,” Merski said. “Securing this funding is going to enrich the Erie curriculum by including lessons in urban agriculture that teach these life-sustaining skills.” Harkins said, “The funding awarded today is going to support the Erie City School District’s Urban Greenhouse and Garden Project, which gives kids hands-on experience in growing food. Lessons like that, which yield real-life results, are the most lasting and powerful ones we can provide because they teach kids self-sufficiency. They also plant a seed of interest that will lead some students into agriculture as a career.” The 2021-22 Ag and Youth Program funded 57 projects, including 14 for Read more

 

Harkins, Merski join Acting Labor and Industry Secretary in calling for minimum wage increase

(May 12, 2021)

ERIE, May 12 – Pennsylvania’s working families have been waiting years for an increase in the state’s minimum wage that never comes, even as they watch workers in neighboring states benefit from increased purchasing power, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins told listeners at a virtual press event today with the Department of Labor and Industry. Speaking at the event with Acting Labor and Industry Secretary Jennifer Berrier and an Erie child and home care worker, the lawmakers, both D-Erie, urged support of the administration’s plan to raise the state’s minimum wage of $7.25 per hour to $12 per hour, with a pathway to $15. “If the past year showed us anything, it’s that we could not have made it without the efforts of store clerks, delivery people, childcare workers and scores of other frontline workers,” Harkins said. “We’ve praised them and told them how much we value them, but at the end of the day, we haven’t done very much to put more money in their pockets or make it any easier for them to pay their bills. “Our minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 per hour since 2009, even as all the states surrounding us have raised theirs. When I was Democratic chairman of the House Labor and Industry Committee, we pushed hard to find common ground with Republicans in the House and Senate to raise the minimum wage. We made progress in the Senate, but the House Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $23,000 awarded to educate Erie students on watershed, climate change issues

(Apr 22, 2021)

ERIE, April 22 – Area students will learn more about stewardship of Erie’s unique watershed and the impact of climate change thanks to nearly $23,000 in grants to support environmental education, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today, on Earth Day. The lawmakers said the grants from the Department of Environmental Protection will fund hands-on teaching models for K-12 students. “Climate change isn’t an abstract concept that can be taught in textbooks,” Harkins said. “The reality is that it impacts critical life-sustaining issues like local food access. This funding is going to allow the Erie City School District to establish two middle school greenhouses that will serve as outdoor classrooms, planting the seeds of awareness that give students an understanding of the importance of climate issues.” Merski said, “Our students grow up by the water’s edge, and that experience becomes a part of their identity. But enjoying the lake’s natural beauty and recreational opportunities isn’t the same as understanding how to care for our unique and delicate watershed. It’s incumbent on us to make sure we pass along that knowledge, and the new wetland model will be a great tool for that.” The grants include: • $20,000 to the Regional Science Consortium to construct an Interactive Wetland Model to support K-12 nonformal Read more

 

Merski: $2.5 million loan to fund critical upgrades for Summit Township sewage system

(Apr 21, 2021)

ERIE, April 21 – A $2.5 million loan from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority will fund a project to substantially increase sewage handling capacity at Summit Township’s Oliver Road pump station, state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, announced today. Merski said the loan to the Erie City Water Authority will fund work to replace the pump station and several thousand feet of force main pipeline and gravity sewer so the system can handle additional connections. “Like much of our region’s aging infrastructure, the Oliver Road pump station has reached the end of its useful life, and recent development in the area is placing overloads on the system,” Merski said. “Summit Township is under a corrective action plan prohibiting new connections until sewage capacity is increased. “Replacing the pump station will increase capacity from 180 to 800 gallons per minute and allow the system to meet the demands of new and future growth. It’s estimated that the upgrades will enhance service for more than 57,000 residents. They will also reduce the danger of untreated or inadequately treated sewage discharging into local waterways that drain into Elk Creek and Lake Erie.” Merski said that in addition to replacing the pump station, the work will include replacing a 4-inch force main pipeline with 2,000 feet of 8-inch force main, 4,100 Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: Erie Downtown Partnership awarded $50,000 grant for pandemic relief

(Apr 14, 2021)

ERIE, April 14 – A $50,000 state grant will provide pandemic assistance to a critical Erie community development organization, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding to the Erie Downtown Partnership will allow the collaborative to replenish resources exhausted by the pandemic. “As COVID created new and immediate concerns for businesses and neighborhoods, community development organizations like Erie Downtown Partnership were forced to shift priorities from long-term revitalization and renewal to addressing more urgent community needs, and they are playing an important part in our recovery” Merski said. “This funding will help replenish resources for the collaborative so it can continue its vital role in rebuilding our downtown.” Harkins said: “Our business community and neighborhoods have faced unprecedented challenges over the past year, but Erie’s partnership of business and property owners, organizations and other stakeholders have been tireless in their resolve to get us back on the path to recovery. This funding is an investment that keeps us moving in that direction.” The grant is part of a package of nearly $2 million to 43 projects statewide that have been approved for funding under the COVID-19 Relief - Supporting Elm and Main program. The Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: Nearly $238,000 in funding awarded to bolster tech, computer curriculum for low-income Erie students

(Apr 13, 2021)

ERIE, April 13 – Grant funding of $237,909 from the state Department of Education will bring a tech-enriched curriculum – including classes in robotics and coding – to students at Erie RISE Leadership Academy Charter School, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding under the PAsmart Advancing Grants program promises to help low-income and minority students compete in an increasingly tech-intensive modern workplace. “Being tech-savvy is no longer considered an added bonus in the workplace – it’s a required skill that employers are demanding for most high-paying, family-sustaining jobs,” Merski said. “Securing this funding is going to help level the playing field for students in underserved, low-income communities by teaching them skills that provide an entry into computer science and tech fields.” Harkins said, “The funding to Erie RISE is exciting because it will allow the school to add to its curriculum in ways that we know provide a pathway to good jobs. By teaching skills like robotics and coding, we’re giving kids a foundation in the kinds of concrete, tech-based subjects that allow them to compete later on. We’re also building a stronger pool of candidates for local employers and earners who can invest that money back into the community.” Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: More than $800,000 awarded to fund Erie recreational fishing projects

(Apr 12, 2021)

ERIE, April 12 – Erie anglers will enjoy enhanced fishing opportunities thanks to $804,200 in newly awarded grants from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers – both members of the House Game and Fisheries Committee – said most projects are being funded through the Erie Access Improvement Grant Program, which was recently expanded based on legislation co-authored by Harkins and Erie colleague Rep. Parke Wentling. “Our legislation created greater flexibility to use the proceeds of fishing permit revenue by expanding permissible projects beyond access and habitat related projects to all public fishing-related projects,” Harkins said. “We wanted to see folks benefit more broadly from the fees they pay into the system. That flexibility is now there, and it’s terrific to see it yielding results for local anglers.” Merski said, “It’s great to see these dollars going back into funding projects to enrich recreational opportunities on the water. Projects like the pier are especially exciting because they will allow more residents – including veterans who may have mobility issues – to get there and cast their lines.” The lawmakers said the following projects are funded by the Erie Access Improvement program: $202,200 to Western Read more

 

Merski bill would bring pandemic relief to state’s alcohol producers

(Apr 01, 2021)

HARRISBURG, April 1 – A newly introduced bill by state Rep. Bob Merski would assist the many Pennsylvania breweries, wineries and distilleries that have been hurt by the pandemic but are ineligible for relief under the current hospitality industry recovery program. Merski, D-Erie, said his H.B. 1069 would provide a helping hand to local alcohol producers that fail to qualify for relief under the existing COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program because they are not classified as businesses that provide accommodations or serve food or drink on the premises. “Pennsylvania’s breweries, wineries and distilleries play a vital role in the state’s economy, employing thousands and contributing billions annually in revenue,” Merski said. “Like so many industries, however, they have not escaped the impact of the pandemic. Despite creative strategies to counter the loss of sales from bar and restaurant closures, many – especially those with limited distribution channels – have struggled. “Because many wineries, distilleries and craft breweries do not have on-premises dining, they are not eligible for relief under the existing COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Relief Program. My bill would change that by ensuring that these important producers have access to a critical funding source.” Merski said the bill has been assigned to the House Liquor Control Committee and that he hopes to see it reach the full House Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: Erie County schools expected to receive more than $115 million to defray pandemic expenses, keep students learning

(Mar 29, 2021)

ERIE, March 29 – Erie school districts and charter schools are expected to receive a combined $115.1 million in federal funding to ensure services and safety measures are in place as more students return to the classroom, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding will address a wide range of needs, from restoring gaps in learning during the pandemic to fulfilling the need for new supplies and materials. “The pandemic strained school budgets, tested the limits of online learning and left educators and school officials with a litany of new challenges,” said Merski. “This funding will allow schools to allocate resources where they are most needed to ensure programs can address gaps in learning, replenish shrinking supplies and guarantee the resources needed to ensure a safe and successful return to the classroom.” Harkins said, “Securing this funding is going to help ensure that our school buildings are safe, students are well supported and teachers and other staff have the resources needed to make our way back to traditional classroom learning without leaving anyone behind.” The lawmakers said schools in Erie’s 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Legislative Districts will receive the following: Erie City School District – $60.7 million. Fort LeBoeuf School District – $3.5 million. Millcreek Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: More than $350,000 in grant funding will bring fresh produce to Erie elementary schools
22 hours ago

Merski, Harkins: Nearly $500,000 awarded to fight blight, boost urban renewal in Erie
Aug 02, 2021

Merski: Erie Water awarded $6.5 million to replace 1,300 service connections
Jul 23, 2021

Merski hosting grant seminar for small businesses, nonprofits
Jul 22, 2021

Harkins, Merski announce nearly $103,000 in fire, EMS grants
Jun 30, 2021

Merski: Budget full of missed opportunities
Jun 26, 2021

Merski kicks off 2021 ‘flag takeback’ program
Jun 14, 2021

Harkins, Merski: More than $1 million awarded to bolster Erie County probation services, substance abuse treatment and education
Jun 09, 2021

Merski bill to revitalize fitness industry heads to House chamber
Jun 09, 2021

Merski reopening Summit Township satellite office June 8
Jun 03, 2021

Merski, Harkins: $50,000 awarded to support Erie historical preservation efforts
Jun 02, 2021

Nearly $7,500 to bolster urban agriculture in the Erie curriculum
May 12, 2021

Harkins, Merski join Acting Labor and Industry Secretary in calling for minimum wage increase
May 12, 2021

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $23,000 awarded to educate Erie students on watershed, climate change issues
Apr 22, 2021

Merski: $2.5 million loan to fund critical upgrades for Summit Township sewage system
Apr 21, 2021

Merski, Harkins: Erie Downtown Partnership awarded $50,000 grant for pandemic relief
Apr 14, 2021

Merski, Harkins: Nearly $238,000 in funding awarded to bolster tech, computer curriculum for low-income Erie students
Apr 13, 2021

Harkins, Merski: More than $800,000 awarded to fund Erie recreational fishing projects
Apr 12, 2021

Merski bill would bring pandemic relief to state’s alcohol producers
Apr 01, 2021

Merski, Harkins: Erie County schools expected to receive more than $115 million to defray pandemic expenses, keep students learning
Mar 29, 2021