Senator Gebhard E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority Awards Nearly $9.5 Million in Grants to Improve Access to High-Speed Internet
  • Increasing Penalties for Reporting False Threats at Schools
  • Trout Stocking at Lions Lake
  • Route 72 Bridge Replacement Project to Begin Monday, April 22
  • Senate Approves Bill to Protect Critical Infrastructure
  • Farmland Preserved in South Londonderry Township
  • Primary Election Day is Tuesday, April 23
  • New Crime-Fighting Tool for the Public
  • Youth Leadership Camp to be Held June 9-15
  • Five Steps to Safer Digging
  • Local Events

Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority Awards $200 Million to Unserved Communities

The Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority (PBDA) announced that the 48th Senatorial District is being awarded nearly $9.5 million to increase access to reliable, high-speed internet.

Serving Lebanon and Dauphin counties, Upward Broadband LLC will receive nearly $1.5 million. Comcast Cable Communications LLC is being awarded nearly $6 million for Berks County. Frontier Communications Parent Inc. will receive nearly $2 million for Lancaster County.

Made feasible by the federally funded Broadband Infrastructure Program, a total of $200 million in competitive grants was awarded for projects across the state lacking 25/3 Mbps internet service. This inaugural round of grants represents a significant milestone in the PBDA’s broader initiative to close the digital divide since the General Assembly established the PBDA in 2021.

You can view the map here. You can view the list of projects here.

Increasing Penalties for Reporting False Threats at Schools

In the wake of a school shooting tragedy and an uptick in hoax reports, the Senate approved legislation to enhance criminal penalties for false threat reports. Senate Bill 975 now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

The bill would make knowingly reporting a false threat at schools and higher education institutions a felony of the third degree, resulting in a prison sentence of up to seven years and a fine of up to $15,000. It would also allow courts to sentence anyone convicted to pay the costs of an evacuation or response that resulted from the threat.

These costs may include supplies, equipment or materials to respond to the threat; food that went unused because of the evacuation or diversion from standard operations of a school; and salary and wages – including overtime pay – for those who respond to the threat and any teacher, administrator or other educational facility employee who was paid despite the diversion.

Trout Stocking at Lions Lake

One of the great joys of living in the 48th district is that we are blessed with many spectacular outdoor landscapes and recreational activities. There is no shortage of great fishing locations.

Last week, my two children and I had the opportunity to help the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission stock trout at Lions Lake in North Lebanon Township. The PFBC stocks 695 streams and 128 lakes with over 3.2 million adult trout throughout the year.

Trout season officially opens on April 6 and runs through September 2nd. You can find their full trout stocking schedule here.

Route 72 Bridge Replacement Project To Begin Monday, April 22

After a brief delay, PennDOT has announced that the bridge replacement project on Route 72 (Ebenezer Road) in Lebanon County is expected to begin next week. The bridge spans Swatara Creek between Jonestown Road in Union Township and New Bunker Hill Road in Swatara Township.

Weather permitting, work will begin Monday, April 22. The bridge will be closed. A detour will be in place for cars and trucks using Route 22 and Route 343.

All work is expected to be completed by November 20, 2024.  More information can be found here.

Senate Approves Bill to Protect Critical Infrastructure

The Senate approved legislation to increase fines and penalties against those who intentionally vandalize or attack critical infrastructure, like the power grid. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Under Senate Bill 819, those who willfully damage, destroy, vandalize, deface or tamper with equipment in a critical infrastructure facility will face a minimum of third-degree felony charges that come with a prison sentence of one to five years and a fine of no less than $10,000, along with the potential to face civil suits for damages to personal or real estate interests.

A destabilized power grid brings national security risks and disrupts our day-to-day activities – particularly among vulnerable populations. With the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security warning of increasing foreign and domestic threats to the power grid, protecting our critical infrastructure is more important than ever.

Farmland Preserved in South Londonderry Township

The State Agriculture Land Preservation Board announced the protection of 2,250 acres of farmland spanning 28 farms and 15 counties from future development. By selling their land’s development rights, landowners ensure that their farm will remain in production and never be sold for residential, commercial, or industrial development.

Congratulations to Franklin and Virginia Graybill of South Londonderry Township whose 152-acre beef farm was included in the 28 farms recently selected for preservation through PA’s Farm Preservation Program.

Read more:

Primary Election Day is Tuesday, April 23

Primary Election Day is early this year: Tuesday, April 23, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. If you are not registered to vote using a mail-in ballot but need to do so because of an emergency situation – such as an unexpected illness, disability or last-minute absence from your municipality – you may request an Emergency Absentee Ballot. The deadline to submit an Emergency Absentee Ballot Application to the County Election Board is April 23 at 8 p.m.

If you’re not sure where to report to vote, check here using the Department of State website. In addition to providing the address of your polling place, it will also tell you if you are an annual mail-in or absentee voter.

Voters who requested a mail-in ballot but would prefer to vote in person can do so if they bring their ballot and the pre-addressed outer return envelope to their polling place to be voided. If you do not surrender your ballot and return envelope, you can only vote by provisional ballot at your polling place.

New Crime-Fighting Tool for the Public

PSP Tips offers the public a new way to share information related to active investigations, cold cases, the apprehension of wanted persons or locating missing persons. It includes information about nearly 100 cold case homicides, missing persons and other unsolved crimes. New cases will be added frequently.

Featured cases include the 1973 homicide of an eight-year-old girl in Greene County, the unsolved killing in 1977 of a high school junior in Blair County, the 1981 disappearance of a Lackawanna County teenager and the search for the children of Susan Reinert, a Montgomery County teacher found murdered near Harrisburg in 1979. All cases in which the Pennsylvania State Police requests public assistance can be viewed on Facebook and Twitter.

Your tip could provide investigators with a long-awaited breakthrough that will finally bring closure and justice for the victims’ families. All information submitted to PSP Tips can be provided anonymously, if desired. Submit information using the toll-free phone number, 1-800-4PA-TIPS (1-800-472-8477) or online.

Youth Leadership Camp to be Held June 9-15

Teenagers who are interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement or the military are encouraged to apply to participate in a leadership camp to be held June 9-15 at Messiah University in Mechanicsburg.

The Pennsylvania State Police, Pennsylvania National Guard and Pennsylvania American Legion staff the camp. Cadets work on team-building exercises, physical fitness training, classroom activities involving police and military careers, and a marksmanship course. They will also visit the State Police Academy and Fort Indiantown Gap National Training Center.

The camp offers three $1,000 scholarships at the end of the week. Applicants must be between the ages of 15 and 17 prior to entering the camp and may not reach age 18 during the camp. Applicants should be physically fit, in good health and have a strong academic record. There is no cost to participants as their local American Legion post sponsors their attendance. Learn more and fill out an application here by May 15.

Five Steps to Safer Digging

April is Pennsylvania 8-1-1 Safe Digging Month, which is the perfect time to review the five steps for safely preparing for any outdoor project that requires excavation so you don’t hit an underground utility line.

Mark your proposed work site with white paint, flags or chalk. Then, as required by state law, contact PA One Call at least three to 10 business days prior to excavation. Pennsylvanians can dial 8-1-1 to connect with the One Call system and out-of-state residents or businesses can call 1-800-242-1776. Wait to begin work until the lawful start date. Track the progress of your request through the email that details what each utility company did to mark the location of their underground lines. Dig carefully.

Following the five steps to safer digging minimizes risk to the contractors or homeowners who are doing the digging; to utility workers and emergency responders who are mobilized to deal with the damage; and to bystanders who live, work or travel near the locations of the incidents. Learn more here.

Local Events

Saturday, April 20, 9am-1pm: Spring Fling Bike Giveaway
53 Chestnut St, Lebanon (Lebanon, PA)
Click here

Saturday, April 20, 11am-2pm: Chicken BBQ
1920 S Fifth Avenue, Lebanon (Lebanon, PA)
Click here

Saturday, April 20, 10am: Guided Hike – Tulpehocken Creek Loop
Blue Marsh Lake Trial (Berks, PA)
Click here

Saturday, April 20, 9am-5pm: Lancaster County Best Kept Secrets Tour
Lancaster Junction (Lancaster, PA)
Click here


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