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Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day
Deadline for Persian Gulf Veterans’ Bonus Approaching
The deadline for Pennsylvanians who served in the Persian Gulf Theater of Operations — including Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm — to apply for the Persian Gulf Conflict Veterans’ Bonus is approaching.
The bonus program was originally set to expire in 2015 before the enactment of Act 50 of 2015, a measure that extended the application period to August, 31 2018.
The bonus pays $75 per month for qualifying, active-duty service members, up to a $525 maximum. For personnel whose death was related to illness or injury received in the line of duty in Operations Desert Shield or Desert Storm, there is an additional $5,000 available to the surviving family. Service members who were declared prisoners of war may also be eligible for an additional $5,000.
Approximately 9,500 Persian Gulf veterans have applied for the one-time cash bonus program since the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) began accepting applications in 2008. The DMVA is encouraging veterans who were previously denied the bonus to reapply to have their claims reviewed again.
Applications and more information are available online at www.persiangulfbonus.state.pa.us.
New License Plate Honors National Guard
I am pleased to report that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation recently unveiled a new license plate to honor and recognize the men and women serving in our National Guard.
Act 108 of 2016 authorized PENNDOT to issue license plates for members of the United States Armed Forces including reserves and the Pennsylvania National Guard in addition to the wide array of specialty motor vehicle license plates that honor veterans and those who were recognized for meritorious service.
Click here for more information about all of the specialty plates available for veterans and active duty personnel.
REAL ID Online Pre-Verification Now Available for Eligible Customers
PENNDOT is now offering an online application for REAL ID pre-verification for customers who are interested in obtaining a REAL ID and obtained their first driver’s license or photo ID card after September 2003. The pre-verification will reduce the time and paperwork needed to receive a Pennsylvania REAL ID when they become available in Spring 2019.
REAL ID is optional for Pennsylvania residents. A federally accepted form of identification — a Pennsylvania REAL ID driver’s license or ID card, a U.S. Passport/Passport Card or a military ID, etc. — will be required to board a commercial flight or visit a secure federal building beginning October 1, 2020.
More information is available by clicking here or calling PENNDOT’s Customer Call Center at (717) 412-5300.
Penns Manor FFA Visits State Capitol
It was my pleasure to visit with students from Penns Manor FFA, who came to the Capitol on March 20 as part of the organization’s State Legislative Leadership Conference.
DCNR Now Accepting Grant Applications
The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) is accepting applications for the latest round of grants for community conservation and recreational projects until April 11.
Grants will be funded through a variety of sources, including the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund, the Environmental Stewardship Fund, the Pennsylvania Recreational Trails Program and the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
DCNR’s Bureau of Recreation and Conservation staff is available to assist in helping applicants develop and submit a competitive grant application. Detailed program information, access to the online grant application portal and more can be found at www.dcnr.pa.gov/Communities/Grants/Pages/default.aspx. Grant applications are available at www.grants.dcnr.state.pa.us.
Trout Stocking Schedules Now Available Online
Trout stocking schedules for 2018 are now available online at www.fishandboat.com and on the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission “FishBoatPA” mobile app. To view the list, click on the link “Fish” in the upper right corner, then select Trout Stocking Schedules. From there, select a county and enter start and end dates from the calendars at the top of the page.
Trout season opens March 31 in 18 counties, including: Adams, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Franklin, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Perry, Philadelphia, Schuylkill and York. Trout season opens statewide on April 14.
The PFBC annually stocks approximately 3.15 million adult trout in 720 streams and 126 lakes open to public angling. These figures include approximately 2 million rainbow trout; 640,000 brown trout; and 500,000 brook trout. As with past practice, the average size of the trout produced for stocking is 11 inches in length.
In addition to these fish, the PFBC plans to stock about 8,700 trophy golden rainbow trout that weigh an average of 1.5 pounds and measure at least 14 inches long. Also, PFBC cooperative nurseries run by sportsmen’s clubs across the state will add another 1 million trout to waters open to public angling.
Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Rate Held at 4.8 Percent in February
Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate for February was unchanged from January at 4.8 percent, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry. The Commonwealth’s rate remained above the United States’ rate of 4.1 percent, which was also unchanged in January from the previous month.
The estimated number of Pennsylvania residents working or looking for work, known as the civilian labor force, was down 3,000 over the month to 6,411,000. Resident unemployment held steady at 310,000. In the past twelve months, employment and unemployment were down by 11,000 and 21,000, respectively.
More information is available by clicking here.
Students Can Apply for Free Summer Environmental Careers Camp
Young Pennsylvanians interested in pursuing environmental careers are invited to apply by April 15 for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ summer residential camp.
The free six-day camp begins Sunday, July 8, at Camp Kresge, White Haven, Luzerne County. The camp will introduce 20 students in grades 10-12 to conservation and environmental careers. From wildlife conservation projects and stream sampling of aquatic life, to forestry skills, daily activities will offer students a hands-on, team-building learning experience in an outdoor setting.
Instruction and daily activities are overseen by specialists and officials from DCNR’s bureaus of State Parks and Forestry. After the camp, attendees will have a chance to seek internships, job-shadowing and other career-related opportunities through the camp’s mentor program.
For more details and applications, visit http://www.dcnr.pa.gov/Education/ECOCamp/Pages/default.aspx.
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