Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: More than $1.3 million to fund anti-crime, victim support and youth mentoring programs Erie County

(Jun 14, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 14 – Nearly $1.33 million in grants will fund programs and services to reduce crime, assist victims, address substance abuse and support at-risk youth in Erie County, state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, all D-Erie, announced today. The funding – administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency – includes eight grants to various Erie County criminal justice, protection and advocacy, and community service agencies. “Our community thrives when all of us thrive,” Bizzarro said. “By funding evidence-based projects and pilot programs, these grants will help us reach those in our community who are at risk, whether they’re residents struggling with substance abuse, family members living with the threat of domestic violence or youth who are falling into crime or delinquency.” Harkins said he was especially encouraged by the funding to advocacy and victims’ agencies. “Our safety as a community is important, but it’s also critically important to ensure that those who have been victimized by domestic abuse, sexual abuse, or other violent crimes receive the assistance they need to rebuild their lives,” Harkins said. “This funding will help provide essential protective services, counseling and most importantly – hope – to residents whose lives have been turned upside down by violent crime.” Merski noted that the grants Read more

 

Merski kicks off month-long ‘flag takeback’ program Friday, June 7

(Jun 05, 2019)

ERIE, June 5 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, is encouraging Erie residents to retire their torn, faded or tattered American flags as he kicks off a month-long “flag takeback” program at 2:30 p.m. Friday, June 7 at his 3901 Liberty St. district office. Merski said he is sponsoring the program in partnership with the Summit Township Supervisors to help residents prepare for the July 4 holiday. “Most residents know when it’s time to retire a torn, faded or tattered American flag, but they may be uncertain how to do so, or may not have the time to retire a flag in the manner the Flag Code specifies,” Merski said. “It’s my hope that this program will make that process a lot easier for residents as they prepare to show their patriotic spirit on July 4.” Merski noted that after June 7 and for the remainder of the month, residents will be able to deposit flags at one of two locations: His district office at 3901 Liberty Street or His Summit office at the Summit Township Municipal Building, 1230 Townhall Road W. Media coverage of the program kickoff is invited. Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: $400,000 grant will fund afterschool opportunities for Erie elementary school students

(Jun 04, 2019)

ERIE, June 4 – A $400,000 grant will permit Mercyhurst University to offer afterschool academic supports and other enrichment programs for students attending three Erie elementary schools, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. Harkins and Merski said the federally funded grant – part of a package of 21st Century Community Learning Center grants administered by the state Department of Education – will benefit students of Grover Cleveland, Jefferson, and Jo Anna Connell elementary schools. “I’m thrilled that our attempts to secure this funding were successful, because the programs funded will help level the playing field for students who may be at a disadvantage based on income barriers or academic obstacles,” Harkins said. “Every student deserves a chance to succeed.” Merski agreed, noting, “As a former teacher, I have seen firsthand the benefits of additional programs that boost learning and reinforce core concepts for grade school age children. Investing in a strong start early on for these students yields tremendous benefits later, in terms of greater confidence, greater engagement and future success.” Competitive, 21st CCLC grants fund the establishment of community learning centers that provide students with academic, artistic and cultural enrichment opportunities. The opportunities must occur during non-school hours or periods when school is not in session and help Read more

 

Merski: $4,350 state grant will fund school breakfast program

(May 16, 2019)

ERIE, May 16 – A state grant of $4,350 will help ensure students at Erie Rise Leadership Academy Charter School start their day with a nutritious meal, according to state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, who said the grant will fund a breakfast program at the school. Merski said the grant, part of Gov. Tom Wolf’s School Breakfast Initiative, should give kids a productive start to the day. “Good nutrition – and a good breakfast in particular – makes a huge difference for students,” Merski said. “It’s linked to greater productivity, better understanding and retention of information, and higher test scores. As a former teacher, I’ve seen firsthand the difference proper nutrition plays in kids’ energy, performance, and confidence. I’m delighted that this grant will help fund a good start to the day for these students.” The School Breakfast Initiative was started two years ago and provides schools funding to implement breakfast programs using alternative serving methods such as “grab-and-go” or breakfast in the classroom. Schools can also expand an existing program to include an alternative serving method. Read more

 

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: More than $65,000 in matching grants to help Erie County businesses grow greener

(May 08, 2019)

HARRISBURG, May 8 – State matching grants totaling $65,335 will help 12 small businesses in Erie adopt greener practices, according to state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins, and Bob Merski, all D-Erie. The funding is provided by the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Small Business Advantage Grant program. “I’m extremely pleased that we were able to help these seven small businesses in our district procure funding,” Harkins said. “Taking steps to be more responsible stewards of the environment helps recover natural resources and also makes economic sense for businesses, because energy-efficient practices are more cost-efficient in the long run.” Merski agreed, noting, “Greener practices translate to less waste, a healthier work environment, and greater efficiency for these companies, which helps their bottom line. It’s an investment that pays off for everyone.” Bizzarro added that businesses that work to protect the environment set a good example for others. “Small businesses can be a positive force for change by inspiring other companies and private citizens,” Bizzarro said. “By ‘going green,’ small-business owners encourage others in the community to do the same. It sends a great message.” The grant recipients, projects and amounts, by legislative district, are as follows: First Legislative District: Two Penny Corporation – HVAC – $7,000 Read more

 

Merski: Grant of more than $5,200 will enhance two Erie senior centers

(May 06, 2019)

ERIE, May 6 – Two popular Erie senior centers will benefit from a $5,213 grant, state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, announced today. The grant – part of the state Department of Aging’s 2018-19 Senior Community Center package of grants – will fund enhanced resources at the GECAC R.B.W. Central City Senior Center and the Erie West Senior Center. Greater Erie Community Action Committee’s Agency on Aging oversees both centers. “I know this funding is going to be extremely helpful to the centers, which work so hard to provide area seniors with the resources they need to stay active and remain connected to the community,” Merski said. “Our seniors have spent their lives enriching our community. This funding allows us to do something in return by ensuring that they have access to the programs and resources so important to their well-being and vitality.” Merski noted that the grants, funded by the PA Lottery, may be used to make needed refurbishments to facilities or to create new programs or services to help seniors maintain their independence and wellness. Kim Malone, GECAC’s director of center services, expressed appreciation for the grant. “We’re very grateful for the opportunities the state provides,” Malone said. “The centers are wonderful places for our seniors to go, and any opportunity that permits enhancements to the buildings or programs is great news. We know our legislators have a Read more

 

Merski: Erie fire, rescue services to receive more than $41,000 in state grants

(May 06, 2019)

ERIE, May 6 – Erie fire and EMS services are receiving $41,623 in grants, state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, announced today. “Erie’s firefighters and emergency medical workers answer the call tirelessly, despite tight budgets that can limit resources,” Merski said. “It’s my hope that these grants will ease some of those financial challenges and provide needed equipment, training and other resources that reinforce these essential front-line workers.” Merski said the grants – provided by Pennsylvania's Fire Company and Emergency Medical Service Grant Program – are as follows: Belle Valley Fire Department Inc. – fire company – $12,502. EmergyCare Inc. – EMS – $7,155. Perry Hi-Way Hose Company – fire company – $14,811. Perry Hi-Way Hose Company – EMS – $7,155. The state Fire Company and Emergency Medical Service Grant Program is administered by the Office of the State Fire Commissioner. In addition to funding equipment and training, the money can be used for repairing, building or renovating facilities and for repaying debt related to equipment purchases or facility building and maintenance. Read more

 

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: $200,000 state grant to fund Erie regional job-training program

(May 03, 2019)

ERIE, May 3 – A $200,000 state grant will provide on-the-job training to Erie job seekers while strengthening the talent pool for regional manufacturers, state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, all D-Erie, announced today. The funding to Erie Regional Manufacturer Partnership will allow it to partner with workforce development boards to create WorkAdvance – a short-term manufacturing training program that will provide job-training skills tailored to workforce needs as well as placement assistance for the Erie County region. “As the manufacturing industry continues to advance and incorporate new technologies such as robotics, it’s essential that our region has qualified workers who can step into these high-tech jobs,” Bizzarro said. “Programs such as WorkAdvance are extremely helpful because they address that potential manufacturing workforce gap and help ensure that our regional industries remain competitive.” Harkins agreed, noting, “While we are always looking for new business opportunities, it’s also essential to make sure we are doing all we can to strengthen our current industries. The funding for this program will help ensure that our local manufacturers have the pool of skilled workers they need to keep pace and remain competitive in today’s business world.” Merski added that the program will fund a range of services for area job seekers. “The program will be a terrific Read more

 

Merski: Grants totaling nearly $387,000 will fund Erie school safety, violence prevention programs

(May 01, 2019)

ERIE, May 1 – Erie County students and residents will benefit from $386,816 in state grants, which will fund enhanced safety measures for Millcreek Township schools and resources for a county anti-violence program, state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, announced today. The funding – administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency – is part of a package of competitive grants that will fund program, equipment and personnel-based resources for schools and other entities statewide. Merski said that a $201,000 grant to Millcreek Township School District for security planning and purchase of security-related technology will ensure students enjoy a safe environment. “As a former teacher, I know firsthand how important it is for kids to feel safe and secure in order to learn and thrive,” Merski said. “The school district has developed plans tailored to each school’s individual security needs. With the grant funding announced today, we can move forward with those plans, enhancing safety and creating a sense of security that frees kids from worry and fosters learning.” Merski said that a second grant of $185,816 to Family Services of NW PA would fund the Erie County Violence Prevention Project, providing programs and services to address community violence. The School Safety and Security Grant Program is administered by PCCD’s School Safety and Security Committee, which was established last year and tasked Read more

 

Harkins, Merski add their names to brief supporting AG’s suit against UPMC

(Apr 25, 2019)

HARRISBURG, April 25 – Vowing to fight for patient health care choice, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, have signed onto a legal brief filed yesterday by the House Democratic Caucus in support of the state attorney general’s lawsuit against UPMC. That suit is seeking to modify and indefinitely extend the UPMC-Highmark Health consent decrees that are set to expire on June 30. “Expiration of these consent decrees strikes at the very heart of patient choice and patient care,” Harkins said. “By refusing to extend the decrees, UPMC is effectively cutting off patients’ access to the providers with whom they have developed trusted, long-term relationships. I’m hearing from residents – including those who work at public safety jobs putting their lives on the line for us – who are deeply distressed about the thought of losing this access. We can’t stand by and allow that to happen.” Merski agreed, noting that members of the Erie community are particularly impacted. “So many in our community depend on these relationships that they’ve developed over the years with their chosen providers,” Merski said. “It’s reasonable to expect UPMC to abide by its responsibilities as a charitable organization. Unfortunately, UPMC does not appear to see it as an obligation, despite the fact that it is funded by patients’ taxpayer dollars.” Attorney General Josh Read more

 

Merski appointed to House Urban Affairs’ Subcommittee on Cities

(Apr 15, 2019)

ERIE, April 11 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, announced today that he has been appointed to serve on the House Urban Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Cities - Third Class for the 2019-20 legislative session. The Urban Affairs Committee reviews bills pertaining to cities and counties of the first, second and third class. “I’m extremely excited to serve on this subcommittee, which will give me a front-line role in reviewing legislation that directly impacts residents’ lives, from housing safety to tenants’ rights to capital improvements that combat blight,” Merski said. “The subcommittee weighs in on bills that address ways to make neighborhoods safer, broaden residents’ access to housing, and attract investments that restore the physical and economic landscape of communities. Making life safer and more prosperous for residents of smaller cities, such as Erie, is what this work is all about, and I can’t wait to roll up my sleeves.” Merski added that he intends to draw on his seven years’ experience on the Erie City Council, which required extensive familiarity with the state’s Third Class City Code. “Through my work on the city council, I became well-versed in the code and the specific issues that confront Third Class cities,” Merksi said. “I appreciate that the chairman recognized this experience and the ways in which it will enhance our subcommittee work.” Read more

 

Merski to host district office open house April 11

(Apr 04, 2019)

ERIE, April 4 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, will host an open house from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 11 at his new district office located at 3901 Liberty St. in Erie. Merski, who is serving his first term as state representative, said he is excited about the opportunity to speak in-depth with area residents about community issues. “I’m really looking forward to the chance to talk to area residents one-on-one,” Merski said. “This is a great opportunity for us to get to know each other better, to exchange ideas about our community and to make sure everyone is aware of the many ways in which our staff can help with state-related matters.” Although not required, Merski and his staff encourage residents planning to attend to RSVP by calling the district office at (814) 455-6319 . Read more

 

Rep. Merski's Spring 2019 Newsletter

(Apr 02, 2019)

Check out my Spring 2019 newsletter! Read more

 

Merski’s district office relocating

(Mar 29, 2019)

ERIE, March 29 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, announced that his Erie district office located at 1216 W. 26th St. will be closing today and relocating to 3901 Liberty St. in Erie. The Liberty Street office will open Monday morning. “We are excited for the opening of our new office,” Merski said. “Although we’ll miss our neighbors on 26th Street, my staff and I are looking forward to carrying on our work of serving the people of Erie from our new Liberty Street location.” Merski said the new Liberty Street office is easily accessible by public transportation, within two blocks of EMTA bus routes 1, 3, 4, 12, 14, 15 and 17. The Liberty Street office will have the same phone number as the 26th St. office, (814) 455-6319 , and the same business hours of 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. To welcome residents to the new office, Merski and his staff will be hosting an open house from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. April 11. Merski said he is looking forward to the event – which will feature light refreshments – as an opportunity for one-on-one conversation with area residents. Read more

 

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: $1 million will fund new housing for Erie County residents with disabilities

(Mar 27, 2019)

ERIE, March 27 – New housing is on the horizon for Erie County individuals with disabilities, thanks to $1 million in funding from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, all D-Erie, announced today. The money will be used to fund the EHCA New Community Homes project, which will construct group homes for Erie County residents with physical and intellectual disabilities. “The many individuals in our area who live with disabilities are integral members of our Erie community,” Bizzarro said. “They’re our friends, our families, and our coworkers, and they have remarkable achievements to contribute. The funding announced today will ensure that they have housing that provides them with both the independence and support they need to thrive.” “I’m very pleased about this funding,” Harkins said. “The money will allow for construction of group homes that provide Erie County’s individuals with disabilities a true home environment while also providing the necessary medical, social and emotional support they need to live with dignity.” Merski said: “The measure of a community is how it provides for all residents of all abilities. The funding announced today will make sure our community is an inclusive one that offers the benefits of a warm, supportive living environment for all residents.” RCAP is administered by the Office of the Read more

 

Merski: More than 650 students received nearly $2 million in state grant aid

(Mar 14, 2019)

ERIE, March 14 – State grants totaling nearly $2 million went to help 658 students in the House’s 2 nd Legislative District for the 2018-19 school year, state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, announced today. The awards were made under the Pennsylvania State Grant Program, which assists eligible Pennsylvania students who demonstrate financial need in pursuing higher education. “It’s extremely encouraging to see this funding going to help students in our district with the costs of higher education,” Merski said. “There are lots of industrious young Pennsylvanians in our area, but many face an uphill battle when it comes to shouldering the costs of higher education. Helping defray some of those costs is an investment that pays off on so many levels, not just for students but for our region, as graduates find jobs and reinvest back in the economy.” The grants were funded by an appropriation from the General Assembly, which provided the program $273 million. The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency – which administers the program – supplemented that amount by committing $101 million from its reserves. The combined funding set the maximum grant award at $4,123 for about 140,000 full- and part-time, qualifying students. In addition to the state grants, 12 students in the district received nearly $18,000 from the Ready to Succeed Scholarship Program, and 25 students received more than $97,500 from the Pennsylvania Read more

 

Merski to host ‘Second Chance Expo’ March 14

(Mar 12, 2019)

ERIE, March 12 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, will host a “Second Chance Expo” Thursday to help residents with nonviolent misdemeanor records reenter the workforce. In addition to a job fair, the event will feature state Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., who co-authored the state’s clean slate law. Harris will speak about the new law and explain how it can open doors for job seekers with low-level, nonviolent criminal records. WHEN: 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Thursday, March 14 WHERE: Blasco Library’s Community Classroom, 160 E. Front St., Erie, PA 16507 Media coverage is invited . Read more

 

Merski to host ‘Second Chance Expo’ March 14

(Mar 07, 2019)

ERIE, March 7 – A “Second Chance Expo” in Erie next week will provide employment opportunities for local job seekers – and in particular those with prior nonviolent misdemeanor convictions who are seeking to reenter the job market, according to the event’s host, state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie. The expo, which will feature speakers and a job fair, will be held from 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. Thursday, March 14 at the Blasco Library’s Community Classroom, 160 E. Front St., Erie, PA 16507. Merski said he is hosting the event as part of a bipartisan effort to build on the momentum generated by the state’s recent clean slate law. “Last year, the commonwealth enacted a first-of-its-kind law that allows Pennsylvanians with nonviolent misdemeanor convictions to have those records sealed if they've stayed out of trouble for 10 years and paid all fines,” Merski said. “The new law recognizes the many talented, hardworking people who’ve made mistakes in life, paid their dues and now want only to return to being productive members of society. “By helping these job seekers get back on a track for success, we’re doing more than giving them a fresh start. We’re helping them reestablish themselves as productive members of the community. We’re helping their families, who will benefit from their support. And we’re helping our community by adding residents whose labor and income will stimulate the Read more

 

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: More than $83,000 will fund paid summer internships for local students

(Feb 25, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 25 – Erie County students will have a chance to benefit from paid summer internships thanks to a grant of $83,122 from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, according to state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, all D-Erie. The funding awarded to NWPA Job Connect – the northwest region’s local workforce development board – will give area students and job seekers between ages 16 and 24 the opportunity to earn a minimum of $10.35 per hour as they participate in summer internships with local public- and private-sector employers. “Summer internships are an ideal way for students to get a feel for what it’s like to work in a real job setting as they start to explore careers,” Bizzarro said. “By contributing in a real-life work environment, students develop confidence in their abilities while at the same time getting a sense of how their interests and skills overlap with real-world opportunities.” Harkins agreed, noting, “Internships of all kinds are incredibly valuable because they give students a chance to start building real-world, employable skills. At the same time, these programs help local employers tailor workforce training to their emerging needs. So we’re opening up career possibilities for students while strengthening the employment pool for our local businesses." Merski added that he was especially excited by the program because of the valuable Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: $500,000 state grant will bring comprehensive computer science curriculum to Erie City School District

(Feb 11, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 11 – A $500,000 state grant will allow the Erie City School District to offer students a greatly enriched curriculum in computer science, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The grant will help the school district provide the foundation for a kindergarten through grade 12 computer science college and career pathway for more than 11,000 students throughout 16 schools. “This grant is extremely exciting,” Merski said. “In the past, students in the Erie City district have had only limited access to computer science and STEM coursework. Fortunately, with the help of this grant, that’s about to change. The funding announced today is going to provide greatly expanded opportunities – including computer technology and programming – that were previously out of reach. The grant is going to provide students access to career opportunities they didn't even know existed. It’s going to bring them up to par with their counterparts in wealthier districts.” Harkins agreed, noting, “The grant is going to allow the district to offer courses that engage students’ minds, with activities like coding, programming, robotics, gaming, networking and cyber security. It’s also going to provide for resources such as new and renovated computer labs and internship opportunities – the kinds of opportunities that provide meaningful college and career pathways.” Read more

 

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: More than $1.3 million to fund anti-crime, victim support and youth mentoring programs Erie County
Jun 14, 2019

Merski kicks off month-long ‘flag takeback’ program Friday, June 7
Jun 05, 2019

Harkins, Merski: $400,000 grant will fund afterschool opportunities for Erie elementary school students
Jun 04, 2019

Merski: $4,350 state grant will fund school breakfast program
May 16, 2019

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: More than $65,000 in matching grants to help Erie County businesses grow greener
May 08, 2019

Merski: Grant of more than $5,200 will enhance two Erie senior centers
May 06, 2019

Merski: Erie fire, rescue services to receive more than $41,000 in state grants
May 06, 2019

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: $200,000 state grant to fund Erie regional job-training program
May 03, 2019

Merski: Grants totaling nearly $387,000 will fund Erie school safety, violence prevention programs
May 01, 2019

Harkins, Merski add their names to brief supporting AG’s suit against UPMC
Apr 25, 2019

Merski appointed to House Urban Affairs’ Subcommittee on Cities
Apr 15, 2019

Merski to host district office open house April 11
Apr 04, 2019

Rep. Merski's Spring 2019 Newsletter
Apr 02, 2019

Merski’s district office relocating
Mar 29, 2019

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: $1 million will fund new housing for Erie County residents with disabilities
Mar 27, 2019

Merski: More than 650 students received nearly $2 million in state grant aid
Mar 14, 2019

Merski to host ‘Second Chance Expo’ March 14
Mar 12, 2019

Merski to host ‘Second Chance Expo’ March 14
Mar 07, 2019

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: More than $83,000 will fund paid summer internships for local students
Feb 25, 2019

Harkins, Merski: $500,000 state grant will bring comprehensive computer science curriculum to Erie City School District
Feb 11, 2019