Vision and Goals Bulletin:
SVI - Our Congregations
SVI Seeks Renewal 2009
SVI Community Issues
SVI"S Big "C" Community
Jacobsen "Doing Justice "
Home Buyer's Seminars
PA School Property Tax Issue
Our Pastors and leadership Teams
"Our Houses of Worship"
Community Future Search!
National Social Justice
New Gamaliel Brochure.pub
Shenango Valley Initiative
Advocates Policies for the "Common Good"
2010 marked the 15th year for the Shenango Valley Initiative as a 'faith based' community organization, an advocate for social justice and economic growth leading to jobs and a safe society. SVI is now a founding member of a new state organization "POWERS," Pennsylvania Organizations Working for Equitable Regional Strategies promoting a culture for the 'common good' that provides for the health, welfare, and dignity of all people, regardless of race, gender, religion or economic class.
The local newspaper printed many articles that relate to the need for better local policies that impact on people: such as special interest rezoning, water plant improvements, high property taxes without state relief, the need for city budgeting and other problems that do not help to bring in more investment to Mercer County.
An example that points to shedding apathy and taking action was the citizen's involvement in the Sharon Home Rule Charter Commission, led by Sharon citizens. The resounding vote against 'status quo' opposition was a clear indication about the 'power of the people' in resolving their issues with proper leadership. Sharon should be very proud of the determination to get the job done. Your vote is important, use it well this year, as 2008 will be a critical year. "An election year for all state House members, and half of the state Senate is a chance to insist on the best open records law, the best lobbying control law, the best campaign finance law and the best election laws in America," according to a statement from Democracy Rising, Pa.
Penn Northwest Economic Development Corporation and other local EDC's have led to many improvements, and local companies have expanded. This helped bring about more jobs, but there was little involvement from the general populace, some leaders, and area strikes have had a negative impact without regard for the "common good."
Rev. Ralph T. Newell, SVI and POWERS President stated, " SVI seeks to follow up with initiatives that continue to point out the need for local, state and national public policies that bring about the common good, not just policies for special interests. New welfare programs, or imprisonment, without initiatives for better education and the funding will not work. There are more and more mandated tests and school graduation requirements without the funding of six billion dollars recently identified in a ‘costing out study' that is necessary to fully fund education in Pennsylvania. Education is the best investment for our future."
Another example of a policy that isn't helping the economic development of Mercer County and the Shenango Valley is a state and national policy that disallows 'logo' signs at the Shenango Valley exit on Route 80. The Shenango Valley Initiative, (working with several local organizations, including the Chamber of Commerce, Mercer County Regional Planning Commission, Mercer County Convention and Visitor's Bureau and Penn Dot) is seeking more ‘sign’ recognition along Interstate 80, at the exits, identifying local restaurants, hotel/motels and fueling services available for those passing by the entrance into Ohio or Pennsylvania. There is a problem with the Federal guidelines for complex exits at the present time. Discussions are on going in this regard.
Other interests for SVI in the past:
1. Vision for redevelopment in Farrell, clearing blight and providing acreage for a recreation program for the young people. This plan and vision was presented to the city council in the year 2000, without results to date. SVI asks "is the new Farrell leadership really interested in more than being distressed until 2012, as reported?"
2. Treatment Instead of Prison for Mercer County inmates to improve permanent re-entry to the community.
3. Cooperation between school, state and local government officials to insist on reducing school property taxes by the state doing their funding share, with all school board members and the public taking action for legislative results.
4. Seeking a commitment ˝ of 1% Federal Highway Funds in PA from Federal and State Officials for training and apprenticeships for minorities and persons of low income to work on the Route 60/376 corridor when it is expanded through the Shenango Valley. This will enhance the skilled Workforce Development Training Programs for new jobs.
5. Collaboration and strategies between SVI, all clergy, civic leaders, state and federal officials to plan for major economic changes for jobs in the Shenango Valley, reducing crime and drugs.
6. For comprehensive planning and government restructuring to forestall the need for and the abandonment, locally, of Act 47 Distressed Communities designation to encourage outside investment.
By Thomas R. Hawkins PhD
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