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News Archive


Clean Up Your Township During 'Let's Pick It Up PA - Every Day'

Friday March 15th, 2019
Cleaning up trash and litter is a good way to show local pride and make your township attractive. And while that task requires constant attention, “Let’s Pick It Up PA – Every Day,” April 13-May 6, offers the perfect opportunity to put extra focus on keeping your township clean.
 
Local governments, individuals, civic groups, businesses, and other organizations are encouraged to remove litter and trash during this special event. Target areas can include roads, parks, forests, river or stream banks, neighborhoods, and open spaces.
 
This three-week statewide initiative is part of the Great American Cleanup, which runs March through May. 
 
Sponsored by Keep America Beautiful Inc., the Great American Cleanup is the nation’s largest community improvement program. Each year, millions of volunteers collect litter and debris from roadsides, parks, and public lands; clean up illegal dump sites; recycle thousands of tons of metal and tires; and plant trees and flowers.
 
In Pennsylvania, the three-month cleanup is supported and sponsored by the Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful Alliance, a range of businesses, trade organizations, and local and state government entities, including the state departments of Environmental Protection and Transportation. 
 
Townships that decide to participate in “Let’s Pick It Up PA – Every Day” will have plenty of support. For example: 
• PennDOT’s district and county offices will provide free bags, gloves, and safety vests to registered cleanup groups.
• Participating landfills will allow free or discounted disposal of trash collected during registered events.
• County recycling coordinators, conservation districts, cooperative extension offices, and other environmental groups will answer questions and help organize cleanups.
 
Townships should consider asking local community organizations, such as Scout troops and church groups, to roll up their sleeves and lend a hand. Business owners might be willing to donate supplies, such as paint, T-shirts, or refreshments.
 
Popular cleanup activities include:
• planting trees or flower bulbs at a township building or intersection;
• painting a graffiti-marked wall;
• sponsoring a litter collection contest;
• picking up litter along a local road;
• cleaning up a stream, field, or other area that has become an illegal dump site and then posting signs warning against illegal dumping; or
• placing garbage cans in litter-prone areas and arranging for them to be emptied regularly.
 
To learn more about how your township can mobilize residents to help clean up the community, go to www.gacofpa.org. Here, townships can register their activities, find other events in the area, and get tips on holding a successful cleanup.
 
Townships may also contact Michelle Dunn of Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful toll-free at (877) 772-3673, ext. 113, or email mdunn@keeppabeautiful.org.


Online Training Modules Available with PennDOT Connects

Tuesday March 5th, 2019

Select PennDOT Connects training topics are available as stand-alone, recorded online training modules. Each topic is presented as a 15-minute overview designed to refresh municipal understanding of PennDOT Connects, explain key principles and practices, offer examples and key resources, and provide steps for implementation.

The narrated presentations are highly interactive and carefully constructed to introduce the viewer to basic concepts, circumstances that might make it the right time to adopt a new tool or approach, associated advantages and disadvantages, special challenges, and case studies and resources. You can view each module at your own pace at your convenience. 

To learn more about these training opportunities, visit the PennDOT Connects page, or read the Winter 2019 edition of PennDOT Connects newsletter, TRANSFORM



Focus Is on Safety During Work Zone Awareness Week

Monday March 4th, 2019
Townships can join the effort to bring national attention to motorist and worker safety in work zones by promoting National Work Zone Awareness Week, April 8-12.
 
This annual spring campaign is held at the start of construction season to encourage safe driving through highway work zones. The key message is for drivers to use extra caution in work zones to keep public works personnel safe.
 
For more information and promotional resources, visit the American Traffic Safety Services Association website or call toll-free (800) 272-8772.
 


Local Government Week Is Your Time to Shine

Monday March 4th, 2019
Mark your calendars to celebrate Local Government Week, April 8-12
 
The observance is a perfect opportunity for townships to promote strong, independent, and active local governments and recognize the valuable contributions made by those who serve their communities in public office.
 
For ideas on how to celebrate Local Government Week, see page 46 of the February 2019 issue of the Township News.


PennDOT Approves Liquid Fuels for Fog Seals

Monday March 4th, 2019
Townships may use liquid fuels funds to apply a combination of a seal coat with a fog seal on local roads now that PennDOT has approved design procedures and specifications for this treatment. 
 
Although municipalities have been using fog seals and bituminous seal coats — also known as chip seals — to improve the surface and extend the life of their roads for years, PennDOT only recently granted approval for fog seals or the use of both treatments together. Design procedures and specifications for seal coats were approved previously. 
 
A fog seal is a thin application of an asphalt emulsion to an existing pavement surface with or without a fine aggregate cover, while a bituminous seal coat is a thin application of an asphalt emulsion covered with a single layer of course aggregate. 
 
PennDOT developed and approved this specification with input from the Pennsylvania Association of Asphalt Material Applicators. During the specification development, workers monitored the test sites for performance, and after seven years, the experimental areas still performed better than the control areas. 
 
Specifications for the use of fog seals on seal coats can be found in Publication 408/2016, Change No. 5, under Section 472, Bituminous Fog Seal for Bituminous Seal Coats. The publication is available online.


Claim Your Fuel Tax Refunds by March 31

Friday March 1st, 2019
Townships need to claim their 2018 liquid fuels tax refunds by March 31
 
The refund, issued by the Pennsylvania State Treasury, covers the tax paid on liquid fuels as follows:
• 57.6 cents per gallon on gasoline
• 74.1 cents per gallon on diesel fuel
 
To receive the refund, townships must submit statements or receipts showing the number of gallons purchased, type of fuel, price, purchase dates, and amount of tax paid. Submissions must be postmarked by March 31.
 
For more information or to request a refund claim form, call the state Board of Finance and Revenue at (717) 787-2974.
 


PennDOT Updates Guidance for Posting and Bonding

Friday March 1st, 2019
Townships will be able to more consistently manage heavy hauling on their roads, thanks to updated guidance from PennDOT on posting and bonding weight-sensitive roads. Publication 221, Posting and Bonding Procedures for Municipal Highways, is now aligned with Publication 23, Chapter 15, Weight Restrictions on Highways (Posted Highways), to ensure that the posting and bonding of state and local roads is consistent, effective, and defensible. 
 
Throughout 2016 and 2017, Penn­DOT conducted extensive outreach, surveys, and information exchange sessions about the posting and bonding of local roads with industries, municipalities, and the agency’s Municipal Services representatives and posted and bonded coordinators. From this feedback, PennDOT restructured its guidance to simplify terminology, update training information and materials, provide step-by-step procedures with checklists, and improve the use of graphics to clarify content.
 
PennDOT recently emailed municipalities with a link to the updated Publication 221. 
 
For more information, contact Halley Cole, chief of pavement asset management, at halcole@pa.gov or (717) 783-6146 or your PennDOT District Municipal Services coordinator. You can also visit www.papostedroads.pa.gov to learn about PennDOT’s Posted and Bonded Roadway Program.


Deadline Extended for Rural Broadband Funding

Monday February 11th, 2019
Townships in rural areas that lack high-speed broadband can apply for funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Rural eConnectivity Pilot Program (ReConnect). The deadline for applications has been pushed back to at least May 31, 2019. New specific deadlines for ReConnect Program grants, loans, and grant-loan combination applications will be posted in the Federal Register in late February.
 
Telecommunications companies, rural electric cooperatives and utilities, internet service providers, and municipalities may apply for funding through the ReConnect Program to connect rural areas that currently have insufficient broadband service. USDA is making available about $200 million for grants, $200 million for low-interest loans, and $200 million for loan and grant combinations.
 
Funds will be awarded to projects that have a financially-sustainable business model to bring high-speed broadband to rural homes, businesses, farms, ranches, and community facilities, such as first responders, healthcare sites, and schools.
 
USDA is hosting a webinar with general information about the ReConnect program and guidance from experts for potential applicants. The webinar is open to the public and interested parties. It will be held February 13 at 2 p.m.
 
For more information about the ReConnect program, visit the ReConnect webpage


Apply for Environmental Grants Funded by Act 13 Impact Fees

Tuesday January 15th, 2019
The Commonwealth Financing Authority is accepting applications for grants funded by Act 13 drilling impact fees for watershed restoration, abandoned mine drainage abatement, baseline water quality data, orphaned or abandoned well plugging, sewage facilities, flood mitigation programs, and recreation. The deadline for applications is May 31, 2019.
 
These grants are funded by the Act 13 drilling impact fees paid by natural gas drillers.
 
Here’s a quick summary of what’s available and the links for more details:
 
• Watershed Restoration: The overall goal of the Watershed Restoration and Protection Program is to restore and maintain restored stream reaches impaired by the uncontrolled discharge of nonpoint source polluted runoff, and ultimately to remove these streams from the Department of Environmental Protection’s Impaired Waters list.
 
• Abandoned Mine Drainage (AMD) Abatement and Treatment: Eligible projects include the reclamation of abandoned mine well(s); construction of a new AMD site; remediation and repair of existing AMD project sites; operation and maintenance of current AMD remediation sites; establishment of a trust fund to ensure ongoing maintenance; and monitoring of water quality to track or continue to trace nonpoint source load reductions resulting from AMD remediation projects.
 
Orphan or Abandoned Well Plugging Program: Eligible projects include the cleaning out and plugging of abandoned and orphaned oil and gas wells; stray gas mitigation systems; and well venting projects.
 
Baseline Water Quality Data: Eligible projects include practices for water sample collection and analysis to document existing groundwater quality conditions on private water supplies.
 
Sewage Facilities Program: Eligible costs are those associated with the planning work required under Act 537 Sewage Facilities Act.
 
•  Flood Mitigation: Eligible projects are those authorized by a flood protection authority, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) or the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) or identified by a local government for flood mitigation.
 
Greenways, Trails, And Recreation Program: Eligible projects  involve development, rehabilitation, and improvements to public parks, recreation areas, greenways, trails, and river conservation.
 
Applicants are strongly urged to contact their House and Senate member to make them aware that they intend to submit an application for funding under these programs and ask for their endorsement.
 
For more information and instructions on how to apply, visit the Commonwealth Financing Authority Act 13 Programs webpage. Questions should be directed to (717) 787-6245.


Funds Available for Rural Fire Departments

Monday December 31st, 2018
Rural or volunteer fire departments that serve communities with fewer than 10,000 people are eligible for funding from the U.S. Forest Service Volunteer Fire Assistance Program. Departments in townships with more than 10,000 people may apply as long as the department covers a rural area or community with a maximum population of 10,000. The application period opens February 26 and closes May 2, 2019.
 
The grants, administered by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Bureau of Forestry, help rural fire departments organize, train, and equip firefighters to prevent and suppress fires that threaten human life, livestock, wildlife, crops, pastures, orchards, woodlands, farmsteads, or other improvements in rural areas. The key objectives of this program are to save lives and protect property.
 
This is a cost-share program. Financial assistance on any project during any fiscal year may not exceed 50 percent of the actual expenditures, including those of local, public, and private nonprofit organizations participating in the agreement. The maximum grant award is $7,500.
 
Grants may be used to purchase wildfire suppression equipment, protective gear, and mobile or portable radios; install dry hydrants; prevent and mitigate wildfires; or attend wildfire training. Funds may also be used to convert and maintain federal excess vehicles received from the Bureau of Forestry and used for fire suppression.
 
Priority will be given to projects that include the purchase of wildfire suppression equipment and protective gear. Grants may not be used for structural fire equipment or protective gear, supply hose larger than 2½ inches in diameter, structures, routine maintenance of vehicles not received from the Bureau of Forestry, medical services, ambulance services, fire police equipment and gear, or search and rescue equipment and gear.
 
Applications must be submitted online. For updated grant program deadlines and to apply for a grant, go to www.grants.dcnr.state.pa.us or call toll-free (800) 326-7734.


Energy Assistance Available for Rural Communities

Monday December 31st, 2018
Rural townships may apply for grants through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy for America Program.
 
Grantees use the funds to help rural small businesses and agricultural producers with renewable energy systems, energy efficiency improvements, energy audits, renewable energy technical assistance, and energy site assessments.
 
The deadlines for the various grant levels are as follows:
 
• Grant or guaranteed loan/grant combination of $20,000 or less: April 1, 2019.
 
• Unrestricted grant or guaranteed loan/unrestricted grant combination: April 1, 2019.
 
For more information and applications, go to www.rd.usda.gov/pa or contact Amanda Hope in the Pennsylvania Rural Development Office at (717) 237-2289 or amanda.hope@pa.usda.gov.