EXETER – Gov. Tom Wolf ‘s Cabinet in Your Community initiative made a stop at Wyoming Area Secondary Center Thursday morning where over 250 residents, government officials and students were able to interact with four of Wolf’s administrative secretaries.
Cassandra Coleman, Gov. Wolf’s Northeast and Central Regional Office director, served as the event’s moderator. A 2006 graduate of Wyoming Area and former mayor of Exeter, Coleman read each cabinet member’s biography before opening up questions from the audience to the panel.
Pedro Rivera, Secretary of Education; Jennifer Smith, Secretary of Drug & Alcohol Programs; acting State Police Commissioner Lt. Col. Robert Evanchick, and Leslie S. Richards, Secretary of Transportation, fielded question from the audience.
“Overall, the response has been extremely positive,” Coleman said regarding the Cabinet in Your Community program. “What a better way to make government work than actually sending your top heads of agencies into the communities into a place were people are comfortable are willing to open up and express concerns and ask questions?”
The event at Wyoming Area was the 31st such meeting between members of Gov. Wolf’s cabinet and the public.
According to Coleman, feedback from the communities across the Commonwealth has been positive and constructive where changes have been addressed.
“We held a meeting in East Stroudsburg and one of the borough officials spoke about a project where both the DCED (Dept. of Community & Economic Development) and PennDOT were working separately. From that discussion, the Secretary went back to PennDOT and began working together solving to problem,” Coleman said.
Secretary of Transportation Leslie S. Richards has participated in one-third of the Cabinet in Your Community stops.
“The best part is hearing the questions and individual concerns; everything that makes up a community and contributes to the quality of life is very different whether you live in northeastern Pennsylvania or southwestern Pennsylvania,” Sec. Richards said.
Ree Ree DeLuca, of West Pittston, fielded a question to Secretary Rivera about reducing the number of school districts across Pennsylvania due to reduced enrollments in the 500 school districts in the commonwealth.
“Consolidation does not work and there are no school districts willing to consolidate,” Rivera said. “What we have done, knowing consolidation didn’t work, we’ve created shared partnerships. Pittsburgh/Wilkinsburg is one great example where Wilkinsburg pays tuition for high school students to attend school at Westinghouse in Pittsburgh.
Rivera said shared partnerships have saved money and offer students a more robust set of courses where students have access to curriculum such as career and technical education.
At the completion of the questions and answer period, Rivera was escorted to the Secondary Center’s School Resources Office were he was able to observe the district’s closed circuit security system. Officer Christopher Alberigi and IT director Jason Jones demonstrated the use of 70 cameras throughout the building and property.
Rivera’s day ended with a roundtable discussion with a select number of students in the library followed by a meeting with Wyoming Area administration.
According to Coleman, there are five Cabinet in Your Community meetings remaining on the schedule before the general election in November.
If Gov. Wolf is re-elected, the Cabinet in Your Community program will continue on a less aggressive schedule in the future, according to Coleman.
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