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William O'Boyle: PennDOT, PSP urge seat checks during National Child Passenger Safety Week

Times Leader - 9/19/2021

Sep. 19—WILKES-BARRE — The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), Pennsylvania State Police (PSP), and Pennsylvania Traffic Injury Prevention Project (PA TIPP) this week are encouraging drivers to take advantage of safety seat check resources across the state as the agencies mark National Child Passenger Safety Week from Sept. 19 through Sept. 25.

Additionally, Saturday, Sept. 25, has been designated as "National Seat Check Saturday."

"Seat belts and car seats are the best defense in a crash," said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. "PennDOT urges all parents and caregivers to take time this week to learn more about the importance of correctly selecting, installing, and using car seats, booster seats, and seat belts."

Car seat checks will be held across the state the week of Child Passenger Safety Week. Visit PA TIPP's webpage for a list of events.

PSP personnel certified as Child Passenger Safety technicians will be conducting free child seat fitting events across the state. Caregivers can have their car seats checked for suitability, receive instruction on the proper installation, and have seat(s) installed, learn to properly harness a child in a seat and check seats for recalls.

According to national statistics:

—Car seats can reduce the risk of fatal injury by up to 71 percent for infants and 59 percent for toddlers.

—However, 46 percent of car seats and booster seats are installed or used incorrectly.

—Through June 2021, members of the PSP have conducted 406 child safety seat inspections and discovered 239 cases of misuse.

—Throughout 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted seat checks, but PSP completed more than 850 checks and found more than 350 misuses by drivers.

—In 2019, more than 1,600 checks were completed with more than 600 misuses observed. The checkups are designed to teach proper installation and use of child safety seats and keep children across the commonwealth safe.

Pennsylvania's primary seat belt law requires all occupants younger than 18 to wear a seat belt when riding anywhere in a vehicle. Children under the age of two must be secured in a rear-facing car seat, and children under the age of four must be restrained in an approved child safety seat. Children must ride in a booster seat until their eighth birthday.

"Parents and caregivers are encouraged to educate themselves and seek out assistance to properly install child passenger safety seats," said Colonel Robert Evanchick, Commissioner of the PSP. "Keeping our youngest passengers safe should be a priority for everyone. Troopers who are certified as child passenger safety seat technicians are available to assist anyone who has questions or needs help installing a child seat."

A secondary law also requires drivers and front-seat passengers 18 or older to buckle up. If motorists are stopped for a traffic violation and are not wearing their seat belt, they can receive a second ticket and second fine.

Wetzel leaves Department of

Corrections; Wolf names Little

Gov. Tom Wolf this week announced his intention to name George Little to serve as Acting Secretary of the Department of Corrections (DOC).

Little will replace outgoing Corrections Secretary John Wetzel, who is leaving to enter the private sector.

"George Little has extensive leadership experience in the public sector, with a focus on public safety, including five years in leadership positions at the Department of Corrections," Gov. Wolf said. "The Department of Corrections continues to evolve and modernize rehabilitation and education efforts to reduce recidivism while implementing appropriate strategies to enhance public safety. George Little understands this deeply and will serve this position well."

Little currently serves as the Executive Deputy Secretary of Community Corrections and Reentry at the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections since September of 2017, where he is responsible for leading community corrections, parole and probation field supervision services, and parole re-entry operations. Prior to that, he was DOC's Director of Community Corrections since 2016.

A Pennsylvania native, Little previously served the state of Tennessee in various capacities for 26 years.

Little has a bachelor of arts degree in economic and business administration from Morehouse College and completed a graduate study in economics, urban/regional development from the University of Texas.

Wetzel has served as Secretary since 2011 — spanning two administrations — and he has three decades of experience in corrections roles.

Wetzel will depart on Oct. 1, and Little will assume the role as Acting Secretary on Oct. 2.

Rep. Mullery introduces

worker protection legislation

As part of his ongoing efforts to protect essential workers as Pennsylvania continues fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, state Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Newport Township, this week introduced legislation that would protect meatpacking and food processing workers.

"We have known from the start of the pandemic there are myriad dangerous issues that continue to impact the health and safety of these critical workers," Mullery said. "My bill would ensure that the workers who process and package our food are protected, which in turns protects all of us who purchase those goods at the supermarket."

Mullery said the legislation would require meatpacking and food processing employers to provide adequate training, paid sick time and access to health care in the event of a workplace injury. The bill would also create workplace health and safety committees at each facility and create industry-specific pandemic protocols for future public health emergencies.

Mullery added, "These workers deserve basic job protections. To go without them means our food supply would plummet and our state economy would suffer."

House Bill 1874 is currently awaiting committee assignment for further consideration.

McSwain tours Pittston

construction company

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill McSwain this week toured the Linde Construction Corp. to meet with community members and share his plan to empower small businesses to grow, create more jobs, and encourage increased entrepreneurship among Pennsylvanians by cutting the costly and ineffective red tape that makes it hard for businesses to thrive.

Addressing a group of local construction workers, mechanics, and other tradesmen, McSwain emphasized his desire to remove burdensome regulations that have negatively impacted working families:

"It is time to restore the freedoms that Gov. Wolf and (Attorney General) Josh Shapiro have taken away from Pennsylvanians," McSwain said. "We're not going to have anymore irrational and unscientific business closings. We're not going to have anymore school closings or force families to turn their kitchens into classrooms. We're not going to do the things that have harmed our state's economy, forced businesses to close, and made it harder for Pennsylvanians to earn a living over the last 18 months."

McSwain's visit to Pittston marked his fifth campaign stop since announcing his candidacy on Monday, Sept. 13. Previous stops on his announcement tour included Erie, Pittsburgh, Johnstown, and Harrisburg.

He was born in Philadelphia and raised in Chester County, where he lives with his wife, Stephanie, and their four children.

State experts offer foliage

tips for residents, travelers

To highlight some of the world's most beautiful, diverse fall foliage, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) is making its experts available to serve as regional advisers, offering tips and resources to help residents and visitors experience a colorful autumn in a variety of ways across the commonwealth.

Beginning Sept. 30, weekly fall foliage reports can be found online on the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation of Natural Resources (DCNR) website and will be updated every Thursday.

Fall foliage typically peaks for several weeks near the beginning of October across Pennsylvania. Visitors can get suggestions about the best spots to view fall foliage on the Penn's Woods Fall Foliage story map and on the Pennsylvania Tourism Office website.

"Pennsylvania is a large state with more than 130 native tree species, which gives residents and tourists plentiful opportunities to see a symphony of colors this fall," said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. "Visitors can check out one of our 121 state parks and more than 2.2 million acres of state forestland for some of the best views, recreation trails and park experiences. Our dedicated state foresters and park personnel look forward to recommending both the best times and locations to experience the beautiful vistas of the season."

While the leaves are the star of the show, Pennsylvania also boasts an abundance of great festivals, pick-your-own farms, and unrivaled haunted attractions that make the state the obvious choice for autumn.

In a typical year, Pennsylvania's approximately 200 million travelers inject about $45 billion into Pennsylvania's economy, generate more than $5 billion in tax revenues, and are responsible for more than 500,000 jobs related to or benefiting from tourism.


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