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Republican Herald - "$185K Will Aid CDL training"

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Location: Mount Pleasant, PA

Republican Herald - "$185K Will Aid CDL training"

U.S. Rep. Tim Holden, D-17, returned to Schuylkill County on Monday armed with a $185,000 check for training truck drivers at the Schuylkill Technology Center's Airport Campus, Foster Township.

"We couldn't have done this without our local, state and now our federal legislators," Richard L. Croneberger, Schuylkill Intermediate Unit 29 board president, said. The IU oversees the technology centers.

At a Monday morning press conference at the campus, Holden joined state Reps. Tim Seip, D-125, Neal Goodman, D-123; Schuylkill County commissioners Mantura M. Gallagher and Francis V. McAndrew, Schuylkill Economic Development Corp. President Frank Zukas and Darlene Robbins, president of the Northeast Pennsylvania Manufacturers and Employers Association.

The money will be used to offer tuition-free commercial driver's license training for 37 unemployed or underemployed adults.

Some have already completed the training and the $185,000 will take care of their bill, while others will begin training soon.

"This helps us out a lot," James Blackwell, Frackville, said following the press conference. Blackwell and about 12 other students posed for pictures with Holden and thanked him for providing needed funds.

Another student, Steve Weikel, Mount Carmel, said he was waiting two months for CDL training. Now, his wait is over.

The CDL program originated in 1993 and has trained more than 1,000 adults. The course includes 400 hours in both classroom work and hands-on, behind-the-wheel training.

While speaking at the press conference, Holden defended the concept of earmarks, which his likely November opponent, Republican Toni Gilhooley, Dauphin County, has frequently criticized.

Gilhooley has said Holden's "big cardboard checks" give credit where it isn't due — to Holden, rather than the taxpayers.

"I don't think this is wasteful government spending at all," Holden said. "This is an earmark. I make no apologies for it. I'm proud of every earmark."

Holden also said recent changes in how an earmark is explained within a budget makes the process more "transparent" and assures money is only committed to worthwhile projects.

"This (an earmark) does not increase the deficit by one penny," he said.

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