SLOCUM TWP. — Paul Gallagher and Mooney Eckrote of Rinehimer Bus Lines had a lot to say to state Rep. Gerald Mullery when the legislator stopped by for a visit.
Of particular importance to Rinehimer, Mullery said, is the system established by the state for hiring and training new bus drivers.
“The process from date-of-hire to placing a new driver behind the wheel can sometimes take upward of 90 days,” Mullery said.
Mullery was in Slocum Township recently as part of his ongoing “One.19” constituent and community outreach service. The lawmaker is visiting all 19 communities of the 119th Legislative District he represents.
Mullery said Gallagher told him school bus drivers must have a CDL Class B license despite the fact that school buses do not have air brakes and are smaller than many box trucks that do not require a similarly licensed driver.
“I plan to reach out to the Department of Transportation with their concerns and ascertain whether any changes to the current system are warranted,” Mullery said.
Mullery’s day began by meeting Carl Balliet, of Carl Balliet Logging & Lumber. The business was established in 2004 and offers a variety of products from green and kiln dried lumber to flooring and molding.
Mullery toured the business, and the two discussed several issues, including: workers’ compensation and health insurance rates, municipal and state road bonding, and the struggles and successes of small businesses in northeastern Pennsylvania.
In advance of Saturday’s trout opener, Mullery stopped at Lily Lake and spoke with a few constituents. Lily Lake is owned by the state and managed by the Fish and Boat Commission for public fishing and boating.
He next met with Norb Dotzel of Dotzel Trucking & Topsoil. The company is a small, family-run business that offers finely blended topsoil, stone and trucking and hauling services locally and regionally since 1978.
Mullery toured the work site, met with several employees and received an overview of the topsoil mining process. Dotzel stressed the importance of technical education for the younger generation.
As a member of the House Education Committee’s Select Subcommittee on Technical Education and Career Readiness, Mullery advised Dotzel of a package of bipartisan career and technical education bills scheduled for a vote next week, including Mullery’s H.B. 2204.
Under the bill, the Department of Education and the Department of Labor and Industry would conduct an inventory of existing workforce-development programs at the secondary and post-secondary levels with particular emphasis on opportunities for business-education partnership. The goal would be to share best practices to help improve the delivery of career-focused opportunities.
Mullery concluded his day in the township by meeting with Slocum’s board of supervisors and leaders of the Slocum Township Volunteer Fire & Ambulance Co. As with many local volunteer units, the fire company is struggling to attract new members. Mullery also had a lengthy discussion about securing funds for a new garage.
“Slocum Township has a first-rate volunteer fire company and ambulance squad, but their equipment is packed into the building and not easily accessible,” Mullery said.
He said his office will work with township supervisors and fire department leaders in applying for funding.
For more on on the lawmaker and his tours, go to www.pahouse.com/Mullery. Constituents can also contact his office at 570-740-7031.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.