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Verizon chooses PWDC as recipient of EITC funding

August 20, 2012

Representatives from Verizon made a $2,500 donation to the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center in a special presentation on Monday. Shown (from left): Frank P. Budzylowski, director, state government relations for Verizon; Rep, Sam Smith, 66th district/speaker of the house; James Cassidy, chairman of the board for the weather center; and Carl E. Erhart, area vice president for Verizon. (Photo by Larry McGuire of The Punxsutawney Spirit)

PUNXSUTAWNEY— Monday afternoon, the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center (PWDC) was the recipient of a donation from Verizon.

Verizon participates in the Education Improvement Tax Credit (EITC), for which it receives a tax credit said Frank P. Budzylowski, director, state government relations for Verizon in Pennsylvania.

"Speaker (Sam) Smith is one of the big supporters in the state House of the EITC and voted to expand it this year," said Budzylowski, adding that Verizon, being a participant, had the opportunity to contribute $2,500 to the weather center in Punxsy.

He said he contacted Smith and asked him for a recommendation on an organization, and his recommendation was the Weather Discovery Center.

"I'm very impressed with the PWDC; I've been to Punxsutawney before but I had not been here to see it," he said.

"I'm so glad that Sam (Smith) had told us about it," said Budzylowski, adding that seeing what had been done with the old post office building — converting it and making it successful and educational — is the whole purpose of the program.

He said he had an appreciation for history and was happy to see such a great use for the building.

"There were only two post office buildings that were constructed in this style with the large columns," he said. "This is the only one left, as the other was torn down; I'm glad the weather center board was able to keep this building and restore it."

Carl E. Erhart, area vice president for Verizon, said his first impression of the center is that it's a wonderful tool, for young children especially, to have direct interaction and hands-on experience of how the weather events occur.

"It's a wonderful education tool for children to use to learn about the weather," Erhart said.

He said Verizon has supported education for a number of years, especially K-12 and higher education in the state. Erhart added that Verizon does much through its donations through EITC and also helps support the education community through the Verizon Foundation.

Smith said Verizon asked him for a recommendation, and he had no issue referring the weather center.

"Some of it goes towards scholarships, and some of it goes to general public schools for unique programming it may have," Smith said, adding that the weather center qualifies as an educational improvement organization.

"We're just appreciative that they thought about us and considered it," he said. "Verizon was willing to take advantage of its tax credit opportunities and share some of that money with the weather center."

Smith said EITC is not available to only big corporations.

"It's available to virtually any business that is paying taxes and can take advantage of the tax credit in Pennsylvania," he said. It has been a good diversified program for education in Pennsylvania."

James Cassidy, weather center Board chairman, said the center was granted the status of an EITC by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

"As such, donations made to the PWDC can be taken as straight dollar-for-dollar tax credits (not simply as deductions) by businesses on their Pennsylvania state tax returns," Cassidy said, adding that the PWDC is now in the third phase of its existence.

He said phase one was developing it as an entity and making sure the building's infrastructure was in good shape when it was purchased.

Phase two was developing all of the exhibits and a clientele over the last few years while keeping finances in the black, Cassidy said.

"We're now in the third phase where we can see how we can expand what we do and come up with a curriculum that teachers can use in conjunction with a field trip to the PWDC," Cassidy said.

Any business that may be interested in contributing to the weather center through the EITC should call 814-938-1000 or go to its website at: www.weatherdiscovery.org.

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