ERIE, March 24 – The return of a popular program offered by state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, will make it easier for Erie seniors to “ride the e for free,” Merski announced today at a news conference with Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority CEO Jeremy Peterson. Merski said a combination of factors prompted him to resume the program, which provides seniors who visit his 3901 Liberty St. office same-day service in applying for and obtaining the Senior Citizen Transit Identification cards that allow residents 65 or older to ride any EMTA bus for free. “The pandemic kept some seniors home and discouraged others from using mass transit more than strictly necessary,” Merski said. “Now, with more folks vaccinated and COVID-19 posing less of a severe threat, we’re anticipating seeing more seniors return to riding the bus more regularly – especially as gas prices continue to rise. “Our bus pass program will provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ in which seniors can obtain an application, receive any help they need completing it, and get their Senior ID card issued – all in one visit to our office. I encourage anyone who is eligible for a pass but does not yet have one to stop by.” “EMTA is proud to partner again with Representative Merski on this,” Peterson said. “We fully support efforts like this that facilitate easy access Read more
ERIE, March 23 – Erie hospitals and behavioral healthcare centers strained by the pandemic will be receiving more than $6.6 million in federal funding to replenish resources and fund recruitment and retention efforts, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the funding, which represents Erie’s share of $225 million in federal funding under the American Rescue Plan Act, will provide critical reinforcements to healthcare workers who have remained on the front lines throughout the pandemic. “The pandemic showed us the heroic side of so many Erie workers, and our healthcare workers are a shining example of that,” Harkins said. “Incredibly dedicated frontline medical personnel have been working tirelessly through extreme challenges, and they need reinforcements. This funding is going to allow Erie hospitals and care providers deliver those reinforcements by funding recruitment and retention of staff and other critical resources.” Merski said, “Staffing shortages have not only strained our health care resources but can affect patient care. Securing this funding brings relief to frontline workers and also helps ensure that Erie residents continue receiving the dedicated level of health care they deserve.” The funding includes the following: LECOM Health Corry Memorial Hospital -- $118,100 Millcreek Community Hospital Read more
ERIE, March 17 – The Erie City School District is receiving $500,000 in new state funding, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the Ready to Learn block grant will help the historically underfunded district shore up academic resources. “The new funding will help get critical resources into the hands of students and teachers,” Harkins said. “For decades, Erie City School District has been severely underfunded, in some cases operating with several thousand dollars less per student than other districts around the state. “We fought hard to get $14 million in recurring aid that is helping the district exit financial watch status and for level-up funding that is helping to level the playing field somewhat. But until fair funding is applied across the board – to every education dollar allocated – our students are still getting shortchanged. “A state court is finally reviewing the issue, and the right decision could right the tables once and for all. But until that happens, the district can use every dollar in additional funding it can get.” Merski said that the grant can be used to address a broad range of needs. “Ready to Learn grants are especially helpful because districts can use the funding to create or expand academics, reduce class size, build STEM skills, and strengthen other resources that Read more
ERIE, March 14 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, is hosting a necessities drive to help thousands of Ukrainian refugees who are arriving in Erie’s sister city of Lublin, Poland, which lies about 70 miles from the Ukrainian border. Merski said that for many in Erie, the crisis in Ukraine hits close to home. “Erie has a vibrant Ukrainian community, and people are desperately worried for loved ones still in Ukraine or fleeing for safety,” Merski said. “My wife, Emily, and I have friends in Erie’s sister city of Lublin, Poland, which is not far from the border. When we reached out to them, we learned that tens of thousands of refugees are arriving. “Lublin residents have opened their arms and hearts, but they need our help. Officials there have provided a list of needed items, and I know our community will step up – as it always does in times of crisis – to help.” Merski said residents should bring the following to his 3901 Liberty St. office Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.: Space blankets/thermal blankets/sleeping bags/sleeping pads (foil covered)/mats. Raincoats/men’s, women’s and children’s underwear/thermoactivated underwear. Body soap/bodywash/toothpaste/toothbrushes/hairbrushes. Adult diapers/children’s diapers/sanitary pads. Reusable Read more
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ERIE, March 9 – The city of Erie will have new resources to combat crime, reduce gun violence and guide former offenders toward productive lives thanks to $221,836 in grant funding, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency includes three separate grants of federal funding that will continue the work of a police intelligence analyst, target gun violence and redirect offenders toward productive lives. “Securing this funding will allow us to up our game when it comes to tracking, investigating and prosecuting crime,” Merski said. “Part of the funds will support the work of a police intelligence analyst – a position that provides critical assistance in identifying suspects and witnesses and supplying other information that leads to arrests and convictions. Other funding will support ongoing targeted enforcement of gun and gang violence for safer neighborhoods.” Harkins said, “Equally important to crime investigation and prosecution is how we deal with folks exiting the criminal justice system and returning to the community, because the resources we provide can make a critical difference in the path they take and whether they end up returning to productive lives or falling back into recidivism. Some of the funding we secured today will bolster services that steer Read more
ERIE, March 9 – Blasco Memorial Library will be receiving some important upgrades, thanks to newly awarded funding of $117,757, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding -- awarded by the state Department of Education under the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund – will make the library safer and more accessible for visitors. “The grant is going to help Blasco with several important renovations, including construction of ADA-accessible restrooms on the second floor and upgrades to the existing 25-year-old elevators,” Harkins said. “The work is going to enhance safety for visitors and ensure that residents with mobility issues are able to enjoy the library as fully as everyone else.” Merski said, “Blasco brings our community together in the best possible ways – for learning, storytelling, community events and exhibits that celebrate our unique Erie culture and history. The funding awarded today is going to help modernize some of the facilities so visitors have the best possible experience.” The lawmakers said grant will fund half the projects’ total cost of $235,515. Read more
ERIE, March 8 – State Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins are encouraging residents to visit their Treasure Hunt Unclaimed Property Search on Tuesday, March 15. The lawmakers said the event will be held from 9-11 a.m. at Merski’s 3901 Liberty Street office. “Many residents aren’t even aware they have unclaimed property being held in the state treasury,” Merski said. “Every year, the state Treasurer’s Office receives hundreds of millions in unclaimed property that never makes it to its rightful owner because of simple errors like misspelled names or wrong addresses. “If folks stop by our event, we can help them search the database. It’s quick and easy, and it sometimes yields unexpected but welcome results.” Harkins said, “It’s estimated that one in 10 Pennsylvanians has unclaimed property waiting for them in the state treasury. Those are pretty good odds, but there’s no way to find out without searching the database. I hope everyone will stop by on March 15 so we can help them search. It’s exciting helping folks discover money or other property they didn’t even realize they had.” The event is free, and no registration is required. The lawmakers said that if residents are unable to make it to the event, they can also call Merski’s office at (814) 455-6319, and staff can help them over the phone. Read more
ERIE, Feb. 15 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, is hosting a virtual town hall at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 17 to discuss issues impacting Erie’s Black residents and other residents of color. “Black residents and other people of color have invested decades of effort to help build our community, yet most still face an unequal return on that investment compared to white residents when it comes to health care, education, jobs and general quality of life,” Merski said. “Our live event Feb. 17 will be a dialog to discuss these issues and what we can do to bring about change. “I encourage everyone to tune in and become a part of the conversation.” Those interested in attending the live online Teams event or learning more should send their name and e-mail address to Merski’s office by emailing RepMerski@pahouse.net or calling (814) 455-6319. The event also will be livestreamed on Merski’s Facebook page. Read more
ERIE, Feb. 10 – State Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced that fire and EMS companies in their districts will be receiving $106,820 in state grant funding for equipment, training and other needed resources. “Erie first responders have been operating under short staffed and underfunded conditions for years, and the pandemic only made things tougher,” Harkins said. “Securing this funding is going to help get some of those resources flowing and also aid in recruitment and retention efforts.” Merski said: “The grants are a welcome addition to help our frontline heroes replenish supplies and equipment, fund necessary training, make building repairs and address a host of other needs. Erie is lucky to have dedicated first responders who answer the call in all kinds of stressful situations. This funding is the least we can do to help make their work a little easier.” The lawmakers said the funding includes: • Belle Valley Fire Department Inc. – fire company, $13,520. • City of Erie Fire Department – fire company, $15,000. • EmergyCare Inc. – EMS, $8,325. • Lawrence Park Volunteer Fire Department – fire company, $15,000. • Lawrence Park Volunteer Fire Department – EMS, $8,325. • Perry Hi-Way Hose Co. – fire company, Read more
ERIE, Feb. 9 – State Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski issued the following statements regarding state funding for coastal zone projects. “The Lake Erie watershed and its delicate ecosystem face ongoing threats from pollution and other environmental hazards,” said Harkins, who sits on the Great Lakes Commission. “Phosphorus runoff and the harmful algae blooms it creates have long posed a danger to the health of the lake and the safety of our drinking water, and we have been working with the commission to track progress in combating the problem. This funding is going to help efforts to address the problem.” Merski said, “Once again, I am thrilled to see the state making major investments to protect Lake Erie and coastal ecosystems. This funding will build on previous rounds of state funding to ensure that these important ecosystems and natural areas are protected for future generations. But this is about more than just protecting critical wildlife habitats. The health of our region and communities – economic and social – are very much tied to the health of the lake the surrounding regions. In many ways, the lake defines our region and is a critical component of the place we all call home.” Approved projects include: • Regional Science Consortium – $62,525 to research the occurrence of saxitoxin from harmful algal blooms Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 8 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, issued the following statement in response to Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget address today. “I believe Governor Wolf’s budget proposal moves us in the right direction by investing more money in our schools, including additional dollars into pre-K through post-secondary programs. “While the infusion of Level Up funding has been helpful and will continue to bring critical resources, it is not sufficient to level the playing field for Erie students, who for decades have been forced to try to compete with fewer resources. We need to make fair education funding a priority now, to give our students the opportunities they need and ease the burden on taxpayers. “On a related note, I support the governor’s proposed investments in additional workforce training and apprenticeship programs, which are critical for ensuring that the commonwealth remains competitive, and proposals to assist the small businesses that are the lifeblood of our economy. “Finally, I applaud the governor’s proposed investments in more funding for skilled nursing facilities for our seniors and in behavioral health programs. Those investments will be a welcome relief to programs that have struggled for years to gain sustainable funding for Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable residents. “Of course, these are just Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 7 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, announced today that he was unanimously elected chairman of the Northwest Delegation, a coalition of lawmakers representing the interests of residents in Erie and other counties in Pennsylvania’s Northwest quadrant. “Service is part of who I am,” Merski said. “After serving as treasurer, I’m honored to be elected to serve as chairman of the Northwest Delegation and guide our efforts to make sure our region’s needs are priorities in Harrisburg. Our corner of the state is blessed with rich natural resources and resilient people who have worked hard to reinvent our economy during extremely challenging times. “At the same time, families in our region are still living with an underfunded education system that hurts students and threatens taxpayers, a shortage of affordable housing and the need for greater economic stability, while communities are still battling blight and dealing with aging infrastructure. “In the months ahead, I’ll be working closely with the delegation on key priorities, including bringing more funding back to our region; fighting for fairer school funding that broadens the state’s investment in our region’s public schools; strengthening workforce training and job opportunities; promoting opportunity zones and other initiatives that attract investors and businesses; and fortifying our infrastructure to encourage business growth, Read more
ERIE, Feb. 1 – Erie County students will benefit from a new training center, thanks to grant funding of $150,000, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the Business-Education Partnership grant to the Northwest Workforce Development Board will provide a career pipeline for students who will benefit from specific training. “Building the best possible workforce for our community means tapping into every young adult to help them maximize their skills,” Harkins said. “The funding awarded today will help launch the Uniquely Abled Academy, which will prepare students with autism for careers in computer numerical control machining – a high-demand career in today’s manufacturing industry. It’s a win for students and for our workforce.” Merski said, “Erie has a highly talented pool of students, including students with autism who have much to offer, but we need to make sure we are reaching them with the right resources. The new center is going to open doors for these students by providing training in high-demand skills to ensure they achieve productive roles in the workplace.” The Northwest Workforce Development Board also serves Crawford, Warren, Forest, Venango, Clarion, and in addition to launching the new center, the board will also connect rural students to local employers for work experience or company tours to offer Read more
With so many bitter divisions between the aisles, the chance to come together and help some of Pennsylvania’s most selfless, dedicated workers feels like a rare opportunity to heal some of those rifts. Maybe that’s why it also seems fitting that H.B. 253 – which just passed the House with unanimous, bipartisan support – is dedicated to helping our healers: the nurses and other frontline hospital workers who are currently facing crisis conditions. Of course, this isn’t the first time they have faced the incredible stresses of working in overcrowded, understaffed conditions. In fact, it seems like a hellish cycle: a COVID surge happens, hospitals swell to near-bursting with unvaccinated patients, and nurses and other frontline support staff face horrendous shortages and near-impossible conditions as they continue trying to help as many patients as possible. This time, however, a meaningful relief package will provide help, and hope. Once signed by the governor, the legislation we passed today will speed $210 million in federal pandemic relief directly to hospitals, which will put those dollars to work bringing nurses and other frontline staff the support they desperately need. Specifically, the funding will include $100 million to hospitals statewide to help them retain and recruit direct care staff. The pandemic has underscored the critical need for a strong nursing and direct patient care workforce. The funding will include Read more
ERIE, Dec. 30 – New grants totaling nearly $600,000 will enhance area attractions by funding improvements to the Erie Zoo and equipment for maintaining snowmobile trails, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the funding from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources includes $500,000 to the Erie Zoological Society for rehabilitation and construction of a giraffe exhibit with public viewing structures and related improvements. “The grant to the zoo will help fund construction of a unique exhibit that is part of the zoo’s efforts to expand its ‘Wild Open Spaces,’ where visitors can observe animals in their natural habitat,” Merski said. “The improvements will expand the zoo’s capacity, increase tourism revenue, and help educate visitors about wildlife and conservation.” Other funding includes nearly $100,000 to three snowmobile organizations for purchase of equipment needed to construct and maintain trails. “Erie is an all-season destination, with miles of trails for winter recreation,” Harkins said. “Some of the grants awarded today will fund equipment needed for construction, maintenance and grooming of nearly 120 miles of snowmobile trails to ensure the sport remains safe and enjoyable for residents and visitors.” The snowmobile grants include $38,200 to Wales Sno-Drifters, Read more
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ERIE, Dec. 20 – A $165,000 grant will enable Our West Bayfront to redevelop three vacant properties into affordable housing in Erie, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the funding – awarded through the Keystone Communities Program – will boost ongoing efforts to bring more affordable housing to the city. “Affordable housing is critical for our community,” Merski said. “This new funding is going allow us to expand housing options for residents while creating jobs. It’s an investment that will improve life for families and continue creating spaces where they can thrive.” Harkins said, “By funding work to redevelop three vacant properties into affordable housing units, this funding is going help prevent blight and expand our community in a way that creates new opportunities for residents. I’m looking forward to seeing the new project take shape.” The grants are part of a package of $6 million in funding for 34 community improvement projects statewide. More information about the funding is available here . Read more
ERIE, Dec. 16 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, is inviting residents to a Drive-Thru Holiday Open House from 1-3 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 22 at his 3901 Liberty St. office. Merski is encouraging residents to drive over for some warm conversation and a sweet holiday treat. “Our Drive-Thru Holiday Open House may look a bit different this year, but it will still be a great opportunity for residents to share their thoughts, get information on state programs and services, and enjoy a local holiday treat, all from the warmth of their own cars,” Merski said. “I’m encouraging everyone to stop by, pick up a treat and let us know how we can help – or simply exchange some holiday cheer.” Merski said residents should enter the parking lot from Liberty Street. Anyone with questions can call 814-455-6319. Read more
ERIE, Dec. 15 – Grants totaling $35,000 will fund outreach efforts by two groups as they work to encourage Erie residents to get the COVID-19 vaccine, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the funding – awarded through the COVID-19 Vaccine Outreach Grant Program – includes $15,000 to the Robert Benjamin Wiley Community Charter School and another $20,000 to the Sikh Society of Harrisburg, which will benefit residents in Erie and several other counties. “Despite some progress in community vaccine rates, there are still residents who are reluctant to get the COVID-19 vaccine,” Harkins said. “This new funding will help grassroots organizations reach out with the message that getting the vaccine is a critically important way to protect themselves and their loved ones.” Merski said, “For those who are still hesitant about getting the COVID-19 vaccine, sometimes the right message, from a trusted neighbor or group, is all that is needed. Securing this funding is going to allow R.B. Wiley and the Sikh Society to reach out and provide residents the reassurance they need that the vaccine is safe and effective.” The grants are part of a package of $2.5 million to support vaccine outreach efforts statewide. The COVID-19 Vaccine Outreach Grant Program is administered by the Department of Community and Economic Development. Read more
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3901 Liberty St.Erie, PA 16509
P*: (814) 455-6319
F*: (814) 455-6593
Hours of Operation - 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday - Friday
Summit Township Municipal Building1230 Townhall Road W.Erie, PA 16509-5080
Hours of Operation - noon - 4 p.m. Wednesdays ONLY, or by appointment.
9333 Tate Rd.Room 102Erie, PA, PA 16509-6055
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5601 Buffalo Rd.Harborcreek, PA, PA 16421-1625
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221 Irvis Office BuildingP.O. Box 202002Harrisburg, PA 17120-2002
P*: (717) 787-4358
F*: (717) 780-4774