Brewster Working with PennDOT to Safely Reopen Bunola River Road

Brewster Working with PennDOT to Safely Reopen Bunola River Road

McKeesport − January 30, 2020 – State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) is working with officials from the Department of Transportation (PennDOT) to reopen Bunola River Road.

Brewster said the road will reopen once a new temporary signal and a permanent power source are secured. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) recently closed the road to thru traffic after vehicles were witnessed running the lights creating a safety hazard. The road was originally closed to one lane last year due to a landslide.

Brewster said that Bunola River Road is a main artery for many residents and businesses along the Monongahela River in Elizabeth and Forward townships. PennDOT said it was closing the road to non-emergency traffic. The lawmaker said he was advised that once a power source is secured that can safely operate the lights the road will reopen.

Brewster’s statement follows:

“My offices have been receiving calls, emails and letters from constituents voicing their concerns about the repairs and closure of Bunola River Road. I understand their frustration.

“I have traveled Bunola River Road for over 40 years and know firsthand the importance of this road to area businesses, residents and the community. While there have been issues with the one-lane travel procedure that was put into place while the road is being repaired, I’ve asked PennDOT to help find funding and expedite work to safely open the roadway.

“PennDOT officials, especially District Executive Cheryl Moon-Sirianni, have done an excellent job of identifying alternatives and working through issues to try and reopen the roadway as soon as possible.”

District Engineer Sirianni’s statement:

“The Department’s intention from the beginning was to maintain a single-lane of traffic in order to avoid a lengthy detour for the community, but due to serious safety concerns we were forced to close the roadway.  With the assistance of Senator Brewster and Representative Puskaric, PennDOT is in the process of evaluating options to allow us to safely open the roadway in the near future.”

Bunola River Road closure affects Elizabeth Borough, West Elizabeth Borough, Forward Township and Elizabeth Township.


Brewster: Mental Health Funding, Programs and Services Must be a Budget Priority

Brewster: Mental Health Funding, Programs and Services Must be a Budget Priority

Harrisburg – January 24, 2020 – One of the General Assembly’s leading advocates for expanding mental health programs, services and funding said today that this year’s state budget must make mental health a priority.

State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) called for more funding and focus on mental health issues during this year’s state budget deliberations.    Last year, Brewster repeatedly called for more attention to mental health issues in schools from his position as a member of the state School Safety Committee.

“Many members of the General Assembly and the governor have spoken out for program expansion and robust funding for mental health services,” Brewster said.  “The problem is that there have been too many instances when much-needed funding and program support has been sidelined by other pressing budget needs.

“This year, adequate funding for mental health is the pressing need!”

More than 1 million Pennsylvania adults suffered with psychological distress and more than a quarter had an unmet need, according to a report cited by the Wolf Administration. The report also said that more than 40 percent of those needing mental health care did not receive it because it was unaffordable. 

The attorney general recently announced year-end results for the school-based “Safe-to-Say Something” program.  Reinforcing the need for additional mental health resources, the report noted that there were over 40,000 tips — with a substantial number of mental health-related issues. 

Brewster said he is pleased that the governor made mental health a top issue as a result of his new “Reach Out PA” initiative.  Brewster noted that a part of the governor’s plan was to add more  counselors focused on mental health concerns, an issue he has championed.

“As a member of the School Safety and Security Committee, I have championed mental health services,” Brewster said.  “At my request, a subcommittee has been formed to study my idea of requiring baseline safety elements – including mental health counselors.”

In addition to Brewster’s efforts with the School Safety and Security Committee, he has introduced legislation (Senate Bill 788) that would statutorily establish baseline safety standards, including a focus on mental health services, for all schools. 

“There are so many needs to address as it relates to mental health,” Brewster said.  “There are also many ideas and ways to improve the lives of those who need assistance.”

Brewster added that the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania has made increased funding for mental health services a priority.  He said they are seeking funds for community-based mental health services including residential programs, family-based support, outpatient care and crisis intervention.


PAsmart Grants Approved for Area Schools, Brewster says

PAsmart Grants Approved for Area Schools, Brewster says

Harrisburg – January 22, 2020 – Sen. Jim Brewster (D – Allegheny/Westmoreland) said that $280,000 in PAsmart science and technology grants have been awarded to school districts in the area.

“Our students are growing up in a technological world that is advancing at an incredibly fast pace,” Brewster said. “We must make sure that when students graduate, they have the technological skills that will serve them in the job market.”

PAsmart grants are awarded through the Pennsylvania Department of Education and focus on expanding access to computer science programs for underrepresented students.

Programs supported by PAsmart grants assist students of color, female students, low-income students and students in rural communities to make sure that these historically underrepresented populations are prepared for the technological future.

Each school will receive $35,000.

Schools receiving PAsmart grants include:

  • Brentwood Borough School District
  • Clairton City School District
  • Gateway School District
  • New Kensington-Arnold School District
  • Plum Borough School District
  • West Jefferson Hills School District
  • West Mifflin Area School District
  • Woodland Hills School District

“I will continue to work to make sure that our communities have the funding we need to prepare students for successful futures and give teachers the resources they need to make kids career ready.”


Brewster to Chair McKeesport Housing Authority for 30th Year

Brewster to Chair McKeesport Housing Authority for 30th Year

HARRISBURG, January 21, 2020 – The McKeesport Housing Authority will be led for the 30th straight year by state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland).

“It has been my privilege to lead the housing authority over the last 30 years,” Brewster said.  “We have achieved a great many things during my tenure as chair, but we have more to do.

“I am excited to get our efforts underway this year as we work to ensure that affordable housing is available for citizens in the region.”

Brewster said that quality, affordable housing is an important element of a strong, healthy municipality.  He said that he will continue to work with the members of the authority to solve issues and deliver secure housing. 

The authority is responsible for more than 1,000 units including senior, handicapped-accessible and neighborhood sites. 

The McKeesport Housing Authority is the third oldest housing authority in Pennsylvania.   It was created under the auspices of the United States Housing Act of 1937.  In addition to providing housing, the authority works in concert with other organizations to provide community assistance programs. 

For more information on Sen Brewster’s activity in the McKeesport community and the McKeesport Housing Authority, visit

Brewster: Nearly $1 Million in Fire and EMS Grants Approved

Brewster: Nearly $1 Million in Fire and EMS Grants Approved

Harrisburg – January 21, 2020 – Sen. Jim Brewster (D – Allegheny/ Westmoreland) said today that local fire and EMS organizations in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties will receive nearly $1 million in Fire Company and Emergency Medical Service Grant Program (FCEMSGP) funds.

“It is imperative that our fire and EMS services have the resources they need to serve our communities and keep us safe” Brewster said.

The Office of the State Fire Commissioner awards FCEMSGP funds to volunteer and career fire companies, emergency medical services and rescue squads throughout Pennsylvania.

In Allegheny County municipalities in Brewster’s district, there were 52 organizations that are slated to receive $668,784 total in funds. The complete list of organizations and the amount of funding can be found here on the Senator’s website.

Westmoreland County fire, rescue and first responders in Brewster’s district will receive $189,360 in funds for 16 organizations. The complete list of recipients and the total amount earmarked can also be found here on the Senator’s website.

The combined funding for Allegheny and Westmoreland counties is $858,144.

“I will continue to make sure that our fire and EMS services receive the state funding they need to maintain and improve facilities, make sure personnel are properly trained and ensure the safety and security of our communities,” Brewster said.  


Brewster to Host Higher Education Financial Aid Seminars

Brewster to Host Higher Education Financial Aid Seminars

Harrisburg – January 6, 2020 – Sen. Jim Brewster (D- Allegheny/Westmoreland) announced that he will host two free Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) Financial Aid Seminars for high school students and their families.

“Financing education after high school can be very expensive, but there are financial aid resources to help students who want to pursue college or technical school,” Brewster said.

The first information session will be hosted on Wednesday Jan. 15, 2020 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Penn State Greater Allegheny Ostermayer Room in the Student Community Center at 4000 University Dr., McKeesport, PA 15132.

The second session will be hosted on Wednesday Jan. 29, 2020 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) South Campus in the Auditorium at 1750 Clairton Rd., West Mifflin, PA 15122.

A student aid expert from PHEAA will be at both sessions to present on the student aid process and how best to plan to pay for a student’s higher education.

“Higher education has an essential role in the lives of students preparing to enter the workforce,” Brewster said. “It is important that students are financially prepared for this step in their lives.”

Students and families interested in attending these free seminars can contact Kathy Jo Osman in Senator Brewster’s office by phone at 412-664-5200 or by email at