Legislation to improve pandemic fundraising options for fire and ambulance companies has been approved by the state House of Representatives. The measure also includes other nonprofit organizations that support community initiatives such as scholarships, youth sports, and scouting. House Bill 290 would authorize Small Games of Chance (SGOC) licensees to conduct online raffles and drawings, and use a mobile payment service (not credit cards) for payment. Participants would have to be verified as residing within the Commonwealth and be at least 18 years of age. The bill also would increase individual prize limits to $4,000, and weekly prize limits to $50,000 to further aid fundraising efforts. The changes would expire with the end of the COVID-19 disaster emergency, or on May 1st, 2022, whichever is later.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the IRS remind tax payers to exercise caution during tax season to protect themselves against tax schemes ranging from identity theft to return preparer fraud. Illegal scams can lead to significant penalties and interest and possible criminal prosecution. IRS Criminal Investigation works closely with the Department of Justice to shutdown scams and to prosecute the criminals behind them. The IRS will never call to demand immediate payment, or threaten to bring local police or other law-enforcement agencies in to have the taxpayer arrested.

Pennsylvania farmers are encouraged to apply for conservation assistance through the new Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) Projects. Deadline to apply is May 14th. Agricultural producers and landowners are encouraged to apply for technical and financial assistance to improve and enhance natural resources on their land. Funding is available through two new projects administered by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The first application cutoff date for these new projects is May 14th. The second cutoff will be July 16th.

Whipple Dam State Park will hold its annual Spring Volunteer Day from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon on Saturday, April 24th. The Friends of Greenwood Furnace, Whipple Dam, and Penn-Roosevelt State Parks sponsor the event. Participation is limited to 35 volunteers. Call the Greenwood Furnace park office at 814-667-1800 to register by Wednesday (April 21st). Volunteers should report to Pavilion 3 (across from the beach) for orientation and work assignments. Whipple Dam is now open after being closed for a year for a lake dredging project and other improvements.