Brooks Offers Assistance with Completing Property Tax Forms at Hermitage Senior Center

MERCER – Sen. Michele Brooks (R-50) invites all eligible 50th District residents 60 years or older to use free Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program application assistance provided by her district office staff on Thursday, Jan. 26, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Hermitage Senior Center, 220 N. Buhl Farm Drive, Hermitage.

Eligible participants can receive a rebate of up to $650 based on their rent or property taxes paid in 2022. The program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians who are 65 years or older, widows and widowers 50 years or older and those 18 years or older with disabilities.

“Understanding the process of completing these forms can be confusing, we are here to help. There is no need to pay a private entity for assistance with filling out the property tax rent rebate forms,” Brooks said. “We are here to make accessing the available relief as convenient as possible for residents.”

Income limits for homeowners are set at the following levels, excluding 50% of Social Security benefits:

  • $0 to $8,000, maximum $650 rebate (homeowners and renters).
  • $8,001 to $15,000, maximum $500 rebate (homeowners and renters).
  • $15,001 to $18,000, maximum $300 rebate (homeowners only).
  • $18,001 to $35,000, maximum $250 rebate (homeowners only).

There is no cost to fill out the PA-1000 form. To process claims quickly and accurately, residents are asked to bring all necessary income, property tax or rental information required. If you have a question about what is needed, please call Brooks’ office at 1-800-457-2040.

Residents who wish to complete the Property Tax/Rent Rebate claim forms on their own make may access them by visiting revenue.pa.gov/PTRR. Copies will also be available at Brooks’ Greenville, Meadville and New Castle district offices during normal business hours.

 

CONTACT: Christi Martone, 814-337-8132

Senate Passes Brooks’ Bill to Preserve Safety by Recruiting Firefighters

HARRISBURG – To help address the serious shortage of firefighters that threatens the safety of all Pennsylvanians, the Senate unanimously passed legislation sponsored by Sen. Michele Brooks (R-50) that would create a pilot program for community colleges and universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) to give interested high school students training in firefighting.

Senate Bill 114 would award three grants of $150,000 each, which would be distributed to three community colleges or PASSHE schools: one in the eastern, central and western parts of the state. The grants will be used to establish fire training programs for students in high school during the school year, with the hope they will remain firefighters for years to come.

“I added a regional component to this bill to ensure our side of the state has equal access to the program. This is in addition to my previous work that established online courses to help ease the training burden of having to travel across the state, taking time away from work and families.” Brooks said. “Our volunteer firefighter community is struggling with both recruitment and retention of the heroes who respond at a moment’s notice to protect our families and communities. There are more demands on our firefighters than ever before, and this legislation builds on my continued efforts to help address the challenges our emergency responders are facing.”

In the 1970s, Pennsylvania boasted 300,000 volunteer firefighters. Now, there are fewer than 37,000.

Brooks originally introduced the bill as Senate Bill 83 last legislative session. It received unanimous Senate support but was never voted by the House of Representatives.

Senate Bill 114 now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

 

CONTACT: Adam Gingrich, 717-787-1322

Brooks to Host Office Hours in Sharon on Jan. 20

MERCER – To provide more residents of the district convenient access to state services, Sen. Michele Brooks (R-50) will be hosting outreach hours on Friday, Jan. 20, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Sharon American Legion Post 299, 1395 E. State St., Sharon, PA 16146-3202.

Services available during office hours are the same services available at Brooks’ other offices, including assistance with unemployment and PennDOT paperwork. Staff can also provide information about state legislation and make referrals to agencies to resolve state-related matters. Residents can find a full list of constituent services at SenatorBrooks.com/constituent-services.

“I wanted to make my team available again for constituents at a different location,” Brooks said. “Providing convenient access to important state services for residents will always be one of my top priorities.”

Staff is always available to assist with state related issues at Brooks other offices:

  • Greenville office: 100 Hadley Road, Greenville, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Phone: 724-588-8911.
  • Meadville office in the Vernon Township building: 16678 McMath Ave., Meadville, Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Phone: 814-337-8132.
  • New Castle office: 1905 West State St. New Castle, Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Phone: 724-654-1444.

 

CONTACT: Christi Martone, 814-337-8132

Brooks Votes to Eliminate Gas Tax Increase, Help Lower Gas Prices at the Pump

HARRISBURG – Sen. Michele Brooks (R-50) took decisive action to help address escalating gas prices today by voting for Senate Bill 35, which would stop the automatic gas tax increase for this year.

For the first time, the average wholesale price of gasoline exceeded $2.99 per gallon last year, triggering an automatic increase in Pennsylvania’s gas tax that went into effect Jan. 1, 2023, which this bill would roll back if enacted.

“Higher gas prices are taking more money out of consumers’ wallets at a time when our families can least afford it,” Brooks said. “In keeping with my original opposition to the gas tax increases enacted as part of Act 89, I am taking a stand today against these automatic escalations that will be entirely passed on to the consumer.”

Senate Bill 35 would permanently set the average wholesale price at $2.99 per gallon, thereby eliminating any future automatic increases above this amount.

Projections indicate the average Pennsylvania household will spend nearly $2,500 at the gas pump in 2023. This includes approximately $380 per driver in gas taxes alone.

The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

 

CONTACT: Adam Gingrich, 717-787-1322

Brooks Continues as Chair of Senate Health and Human Services Committee

HARRISBURG – Sen. Michele Brooks (R-50) today announced that she will continue serving as the chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, which is responsible for legislative and policy priorities impacting public health. She was also named the vice chair of the Finance Committee.

“Having served as the chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee in the previous legislative session, I am eager to continue my efforts on behalf of Pennsylvanians. It is a true honor to work to improve the lives of others, and I take that duty very seriously,” Brooks said.

Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward (R-39) also appointed Brooks to serve on five other Senate committees in the 2023-24 legislative session. The committees provide legislative oversight and help shape the language in bills that fall under their areas of responsibility.

The Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee considers issues pertaining to agriculture in Pennsylvania.

The Communications and Technology Committee oversees legislative efforts to improve access to high-speed internet in all corners of the commonwealth, ensures valuable personal information is protected and secured in state government, and considers overall state information technology efficiencies and improvement.

The Education Committee considers issues and legislation related to Pennsylvania’s education system, including school safety, and post-secondary opportunities for students.

The Rules and Executive Nominations Committee is responsible for reviewing nominations made by the governor and is charged with the consideration of resolutions and legislation returning to the Senate from the House of Representatives.

The Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee concentrates on fire, emergency medical services, emergency management, military and veterans’ issues.

More information about Brooks is available at her website, SenatorBrooks.com.

 

CONTACT: Christi Martone, 814-337-8132

Brooks to Offer Veterans Services at New Castle Office on Dec. 14

LAWRENCE – Sen. Michele Brooks (R-50) will open the district office Sen. Elder Vogel (R-47) previously maintained at 1905 W. State St., New Castle on Monday, Dec. 12. The office will be open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and can be reached by calling 724-654-1444.

The district office will be served by Brooks instead of Vogel because effective Dec. 1, all Senate districts were redistricted to account for the last decade’s population changes.

On the second Wednesday of each month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. beginning on Dec. 14, veterans’ representatives from the American Legion and the Department of Labor and Industry will be in the office to help residents.

“Our veterans have selflessly served our country, putting their lives on hold and leaving their families to protect all of us,” Brooks said. “Offering these hours to help veterans thrive during all stages of their lives is a small token of my deep appreciation for their sacrifice.”

The Labor and Industry representative will help with the claims process and assist veterans who need jobs. The American Legion field service officer will assist veterans in filing VA claims for disability compensation, disability increase and rating decision appeals; veteran or surviving spouse pension; burial and death benefits; addition of dependents; dependency and indemnity compensation; as well as other veterans’ benefits.

Veterans do not need to be a member of the American Legion to receive these free services, which are available to all veterans and their families. Appointments are accepted but not necessary.

 

CONTACT:  Diane Helbig, 724-588-8911

$100,000 Awarded to Replace Meadville YMCA Windows, Brooks Says

CRAWFORD – The Meadville YMCA will receive $100,000 in state funding to install energy-efficient windows, according to Sen. Michele Brooks (R-50).

The windows on the first level and part of the second level are original to the 63-year-old structure. Replacement of the single-pane windows was recommended after a 2018 assessment identified condensation and deteriorating window sealants.

“The YMCA is utilized by families not only for recreational and health-related programs, but also for essential child care programs. While reading to kids at the Y one night, I was reminded how many community members use this valuable resource,” Brooks said. “Hopefully these upgrades will help with cost and also comfort.”

The YMCA has been a fixture in downtown Meadville for more than 150 years and has improved the lives of countless citizens.

“The Meadville Family YMCA has been working for many years to update our building. We are truly blessed that Sen. Brooks has seen the value in the YMCA building and the staff.  We are looking forward to the upgrade,” said Tina Carter, chief executive officer of the Meadville YMCA.

In the past 16 years, YMCA membership and child care programs have grown from just 219 members to 8,000 pre-COVID. Programs and services include exercise and fitness classes, youth and family activities, community programs and child care. The Y is the largest child care provider in western Crawford County.

 

CONTACT: Fallon Binner, 717-787-1322

Brooks Announces $500,000 Grant to Increase Health Care Access

MERCER – Sen. Michele Brooks (R-50) announced a Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grant totaling $500,000 was awarded to the Allegheny Health Network Grove City Hospital to increase community access to health care services.

The project has a patient-centered approach. For example, patient rooms will be tailored to accommodate varying diseases or injuries in the emergency room. This will include smaller rooms with reclining chairs for treat-and-release and quiet rooms for behavioral health patients, as well as negative pressure rooms for suspected airborne illnesses such as COVID-19.

“Living in a rural community, I understand the importance of our local hospitals. Residents in rural communities shouldn’t have to drive 45 minutes to reach a hospital; I remain steadfast in working to ensure that they have access to local hospitals and health care. Increasing emergency room beds will not only help the residents of Grove City, but also the residents of surrounding communities, as well,” Brooks said.

Additionally, the project will increase the efficiency of the department, along with patient and family satisfaction after discharge. It will also economically impact the community through revenue generated by employment for the project and retention of staff working in other facilities.

RACP is a Commonwealth grant program administered by the Office of the Budget for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational and historical improvement projects. RACP projects are state-funded and cannot obtain primary funding under other state programs.

 

CONTACT: Fallon Binner, 717-787-1322

Brooks Announces Grants to Support Job Creation, Local Economy

CRAWFORD – Sen. Michele Brooks (R-50) announced that two Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grants totaling $2.5 million were awarded to Crawford County. The grants will benefit the community by supporting job creation and improving the local economy.

A grant in the amount of $2 million will be used for the renovation of Allegheny College’s Reis Hall and a newly constructed Center for Business and Economics will provide the space, infrastructure and technology to train community members and students to fill jobs that are central to the region’s economic development.

“This project forms a unique and important partnership between Allegheny College and local manufacturers which will increase opportunities for local students, job seekers and job creators. Developing new collaborations and strategies not only grows our jobs for today but also for the next generation,” Brooks said.

“This is very exciting news not only for Allegheny College but regional manufacturers! The renovation of an underutilized building on campus to become a cutting-edge facility that will house advanced manufacturing and robotics/automation labs and material research facilities brings true new value to local manufacturers. This is a very important investment and the first crucial step in a partnership between the college and the local manufacturing community,” said Jim Becker, executive director of the Economic Progress Alliance of Crawford County; Tami Adams, executive director of the Northwestern Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Tooling and Machining Association; and Elisabeth Smith, president and chief executive officer of Acutec Precision Aerospace, Inc.

The renovation includes the restoration of historic features, as well as the construction of lightweight tech facilities, smart classrooms, design labs and collaborative workspaces creating the Allegheny College Lab for Innovation and Creativity, Computer Science and the Center for Interdisciplinary Research.

The second grant, in the amount of $500,000, will enhance tourism and preserve an important part of Meadville’s history. It entails the redevelopment of historic Holland Hall into a 12-15 room quaint hotel featuring a restaurant offering farm-to-table cuisine, along with an entertainment venue showcasing local wineries, breweries and distilleries.

Holland Hall will receive a new roof and a full structural and masonry restoration. Additionally, any asbestos-containing materials will be abated.

“Holland Hall is a valuable piece of Crawford County’s history that can’t be lost. The grant to help preserve this jewel, while blending it into our local economy, will enhance Crawford County’s tourism industry. Baldwin-Reynolds House Museum and neighboring Holland Hall have the potential to be an event destination not only for local families, but travelers alike,” Brooks said.

Currently, there are no operational hotels in Meadville. A 2020 hotel market study conducted by the Economic Press Alliance showed that a market exists for the creation of 75-100 hotel rooms within the downtown district where Holland Hall is located.

“I want to thank former property owner, Ethan Jackman, an Allegheny College graduate, for his important work on Holland Hall, as well as Crawford County Historical Society for continuing that work to preserve this majestic home,” Brooks said.

Holland Hall was built in 1807 and has sat vacant and passed through a myriad of owners since the 1990s until the Crawford County Historical Society purchased the property in 2021.

RACP is a Commonwealth grant program administered by the Office of the Budget for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational and historical improvement projects. RACP projects are state-funded and cannot obtain primary funding under other state programs.

 

CONTACT: Fallon Binner, 717-787-1322

Brooks, Longietti Announce $2.85 Million in Grants to Benefit Local Families

MERCER – Sen. Michele Brooks (R-50) and Rep. Mark Longietti (D-7) announced four Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grants totaling $2.85 million were awarded to Mercer County. The grants will benefit our local economy and families.

The Joy Cone plant expansion project received $1 million. Joy Cone employs more than 670 individuals, with 140 of those positions having been created since October 2020. With the current expansion plans, Joy Cone intends to hire an additional 90 employees in the next year.

“I appreciate the opportunity to work with Joy Cone, who recently celebrated 100 years in our community, as the company continues to add jobs and exponentially expands its facilities here in Mercer County. It’s always a sense of pride when seeing their world-famous products being used while watching a favorite movie and even when I’m in Harrisburg,” Brooks said.

Penn-Northwest Development Corporation will receive $500,000 to repair the roof of a 130,000-square-foot facility, as well as replace the lighting in the facility and the above-ground concrete to allow for manufacturers to run production lines, enabling the building to remain an important part of the manufacturing resurgence.

“The Sharon industrial building renovation project will expand the region’s ability to attract a significant manufacturer and a source of good-paying jobs, while funding to upgrade roadway and transportation logistics for the Joy Cone plant will help ensure this world-class manufacturer continues to grow and thrive in Hermitage,” said Longietti.

Projects such as the Sharon industrial building renovation will grow manufacturing capacity and the ability to bring additional family-sustaining jobs to the area. I appreciate Penn-Northwest’s vision in putting a plan together to attract additional manufacturing jobs,” Brooks said.

Buhl Community Recreation Center will receive $500,000 to support the major expansion of amenities, facilities and exercise equipment.

“Sharon is the Shenango Valley’s core community, so expanding the city’s recreational and hospitality opportunities drives economic growth for the entire region,” Longietti said. “The new funding for Buhl Community Recreation Center will build on the major facility improvements already underway by ensuring the center has the needed infrastructure – including parking, electrical and mechanical upgrades – to support the expansion. It’s estimated that the project will help increase membership by 3,500 and add nine permanent full-time jobs.

The final grant, $850,000 for JCL Development, will be used for renovation work on buildings acquired to create the Downtown Sharon Center, which will be a hospitality hub for eating and drinking establishments.

“Likewise, the new funding to JCL Development will build on progress to revitalize Downtown Sharon by supporting renovations to buildings JCL has acquired for a hospitality hub. Having that new space for bars and restaurants will be key to attracting more patrons to the downtown area,” said Longietti.

“The continued investment in restoring and expanding facilities and programs at the Buhl Club, along with the JCL project, contributes to the vitality of downtown Sharon and serves as a great resource for families and visitors.” Brooks said.

RACP is a Commonwealth grant program administered by the Office of the Budget for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational and historical improvement projects. RACP projects are state-funded and cannot obtain primary funding under other state programs.

 

CONTACT: Fallon Binner, 717-787-1322