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News for Constituents - November 23, 2011

Home Energy Assistance Program Taking Applications

Whether you are in need of help paying your home heating bill or find yourself in an emergency situation with broken heating equipment, Pennsylvania’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) has announced it is taking applications for both cash and crisis grants for income-eligible recipients.

Income eligibility for cash grants begins at a maximum income level of $16,335 for a one-person household and adjusts as follows:

2 people -- $22,065 maximum income
3 people -- $27,795 maximum income
4 people -- $33,525 maximum income
5 people -- $39,255 maximum income
6 people -- $44,985 maximum income
7 people -- $50,715 maximum income
8 people -- $56,445 maximum income
9 people -- $62,175 maximum income
10 people -- $67,905 maximum income
*(For each additional person, add $5,730)

The minimum cash benefit is now $100, and the maximum crisis grant is $300 for the federally-funded heating assistance program. Cash grants are sent directly to the recipient’s utility company to offset the cost of the heating bill. Crisis grants are applied to the purchase of additional fuel or to fix broken heating equipment.

Apply for a LIHEAP grant online or download an application from the Department of Public Welfare’s website and return the application to your county assistance office. Residents can also apply in-person at county assistance offices.

Pennsylvania’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program: http://www.dpw.state.pa.us/ucmprd/groups/public/documents/communication/s_001813.pdf
Taking applications: http://www.dpw.state.pa.us/foradults/heatingassistanceliheap/S_000960
Income eligibility: http://www.dpw.state.pa.us/foradults/heatingassistanceliheap/homeheatingassistanceliheapeligibility/index.htm
Grant online: www.compass.state.pa.us
Download an application: http://www.dpw.state.pa.us/ucmprd/groups/webcontent/documents/form/p_011811.pdf
County assistance offices: http://www.dpw.state.pa.us/findfacilsandlocs/countyassistanceofficecontactinformation/index.htm

Add PA Preferred Products to Your Holiday Menu

If each of the approximately 5.5 million households in the Commonwealth devoted $10 per week of their total food dollars to purchasing Pennsylvania grown products, it would result in over 2.9 billion food dollars being reinvested back into the state, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

You can begin your reinvestment by using PA Preferred Products on your holiday dinner table this year. Turn to the 2011 PA Preferred Culinary Connection Recipe Book for tried and true recipes.

Shipping fresh produce from distant states and countries can take up to 14 days before it arrives on a store shelf. Instead, look for the blue keystone with a gold checkmark to choose products grown, harvested, and, if applicable, processed in Pennsylvania. The program strives to achieve what 93 percent of Pennsylvanians desire – to buy and consume local products.

Pennsylvania grown products: www.papreferred.com
Food dollars reinvested: http://www.papreferred.com/program/consumer
PA Preferred Products: http://www.papreferred.com/seasonal_calendar
2011 PA Preferred Culinary Connection Recipe Book: http://www.papreferred.com/Content/doc/papref_recipes.pdf
Blue keystone with a gold checkmark: http://www.agriculture.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/gateway/PTARGS_0_2_24476_10297_0_43/http%3B/
93 percent of Pennsylvanians: http://www.papreferred.com/about_us

Do Your Holiday Shopping in PA

Let VisitPA help you shop for homemade, handcrafted, or uniquely Pennsylvania keepsakes to give this holiday season.

Turn to Main Street this year for your holiday shopping and find revitalized downtowns. From small towns like Butler, Bedford, and Bloomsburg to those quaint communities that dot Bucks County and the Philadelphia countryside, you will be greeted with lights and local traditions to enhance your shopping experience.

Choose gifts from among the selection of antiques, ceramics, ironware, jewelry, decorative arrangements, gourmet foods, furniture, and much more. Consult the Events & Festivals webpage for things to do while on your PA shopping excursion.

VisitPA: http://www.visitpa.com
Main Street: http://www.visitpa.com/celebrate-holidays-main-streets?CMP=EMC-Nov11
Butler: http://www.visitpa.com/butler
Bedford: http://www.visitpa.com/Bedford
Bloomsburg: http://www.visitpa.com/treefest
Bucks County: http://visitbuckscounty.com/shopping_dining/landing.asp
Philadelphia Countryside: http://www.visitphilly.com/articles/philadelphia/main-streets-trail-of-philadelphia-countryside/
Events & Festivals: http://www.visitpa.com/events-festivals

Check Traffic and Road Conditions Before Leaving Home

Whether you are a hunter headed out for a day afield or a holiday shopper about to scout the mall, a quick trip to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s PA 511 website will help you properly prepare for the day ahead.

PA511 holds the key to reliable traffic and winter road conditions on more than 2,900 miles of roadways. Pennsylvania’s official travel information website can help you reach your destination in the most efficient manner when traveling in state.

Traffic, weather, and links to other transportation services, including airports, are available for those who will take to the skies this holiday.

PA 511: http://www.511pa.com/
PA511: http://www.511pa.com/PDF.aspx?fileName=faq
Traffic: http://www.511pa.com/Traffic.aspx
Winter road conditions: http://www.511pa.com/Traffic.aspx?ShowWinterLayer=true
Other transportation services: http://www.511pa.com/TravelLinks.aspx

Stop the Texts – Stop the Wrecks

Teens and adults who text and drive may think they are multi-tasking but highway statistics reveal those drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash than non-texting motorists, according to the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General.

Pennsylvania is joining other states in launching a national safety campaign, “Stop the Texts – Stop the Wrecks”. The campaign stresses that using a cell phone delays a driver's reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent.

According to the campaign, five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55 miles per hour, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field. In 2009, distracted driving contributed to nearly 5,500 deaths on U.S. roadways and an estimated 448,000 injuries from motor vehicle crashes. Distracted driving has become the number one killer of American teens.

Pennsylvania’s new law banning texting while driving makes it a primary offense and carries a fine of $50.

Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General: http://www.attorneygeneral.gov/press.aspx?id=6241
“Stop the Texts – Stop the Wrecks”: http://www.stoptextsstopwrecks.org/#home
Campaign: http://www.stoptextsstopwrecks.org/#facts
New law banning texting: http://www.governor.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?open=18&objID=1208131&mode=2

Hunters Sharing the Harvest

Local food banks, soup kitchens, and needy families will again benefit this year from hunters and meat processors who support the 20-year-old “Hunters Sharing the Harvest” program, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

“Hunters Sharing the Harvest” annually contributes enough venison to deliver nearly 200,000 meals to food banks, churches, and social service feeding programs for needy Pennsylvanians.

Generous hunters take a deer to a participating meat processor and identify how much of their deer meat - from an entire deer to several pounds - that is to be donated to HSH. If the hunter is donating an entire deer, they are asked to contribute a tax-deductible co-pay of $15, and HSH will cover the remaining processing fees. A hunter may choose to cover the entire costs of the processing, which is tax deductible as well.

To participate in Hunters Sharing the Harvest, email info@sharedeer.org or call toll-free: (866) 474-2141.

Hunters Sharing the Harvest: http://sharedeer.org/about-us/
Pennsylvania Game Commission: http://www.pgc.state.pa.us
Meat processor: http://sharedeer.org/resources/meat-processors/
Donating: http://sharedeer.org/contribute/
Participate: http://sharedeer.org/resources/
Hunters Sharing the Harvest: http://sharedeer.org/