GREENVILLE, PA. Dems to spotlight woes of economy

The local senator said the visit is a political ploy.
GREENVILLE, Pa. -- The chairman of the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Policy Committee said he will bring his committee here Tuesday to examine what he calls the region's "worsening economic problems."
Sen. Robert Robbins of Greenville, a Republican, said the visit is no more than a political campaign move by the Democrats.
Sen. Richard Kasunic of Dunbar, D-32nd, said his committee will have a public discussion with local officials and labor and business leaders at 10 a.m. at Greenville High School.
The goal is to give legislators a look at the economic challenges facing northwestern Pennsylvania and to find ways for the state to help local leaders spark an economic resurgence, Kasunic said.
Robbins, whose 50th District includes Greenville, said he hadn't been told the committee is coming into his district nor was he invited to the meeting.
The Democrats use their policy committee for campaign services, he said.
Robbins is opposed this fall by a Democrat, Farrell businessman Kyle Klaric.
Kasunic said 11.5 percent of Mercer County's population is below the poverty line, nearly twice the number reported in 1980, and the area is losing its young people. The U.S. Census shows a 36 percent loss of people between ages 18 and 24 from 1980 to 2000, he said.
Robbins noted that Kasunic has similar problems in his own district.
Trinity plant
Robbins and a group of Republican senators toured the closed Trinity Industries plant in Greenville Thursday, hearing about local efforts to get the plant redeveloped.
The Republican administration has cleaned up 1,000 brownfield sites across the state in recent years, Robbins said, adding that there has been private interest shown in the Trinity plant and, if that interest pans out, an environmental study will be needed to determine if there are any hazardous materials on the site.
Having legislators get familiar with the plant will help in efforts to secure state funds to redevelop it, he said.

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