The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

November 6, 2013

U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta visits Mount Carmel to 'listen'

By Ashley Wislock
The Daily Item

MOUNT CARMEL — Walking on Oak Street of Mount Carmel, Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton, said he was excited to meet with officials from the town Wednesday, with the town being new to his Congressional district.
“It’s very important to be able to listen to people in their own towns, on their own sidewalks,” he said. “I want to talk to people in these communities and just hear what’s on their minds.”
Barletta - who made a similar visit to Shamokin last week - said his visit was to discuss whatever issues local officials and citizens thought were important. In Mount Carmel, Barletta said he heard about issues that are facing many of the municipalities in his district. 
“It’s the same issues a lot of towns are dealing with,” he said. “Blight, a lack of funds, infrastructure.”
Barletta said he plans to take these concerns “back to Washington” and work on solutions that benefit his constituents.
Mayor J. Kevin Jones said the meeting was helpful and allowed the town to learn about federal-level options for assistance.
“It gives us an opportunity to relay what concerns we have and see what federal options are available,” he said. “It went well.”
In addition to speaking with elected officials and members of the public, Barletta stopped in several shops along the borough’s main street, trying to get a first-hand view of the issues facing businesses. At Matlow’s Clothing Store, where Barletta began his walk up Oak Street, the topic of downtown revitalization again came up, with Barletta acknowledging that it is important to make sure there is traffic in downtown commercial districts.
“We’ve got to get people on the sidewalks,” he said.
Talking about these small-town issues is important for Barletta, since he started out in municipal politics.
“I was mayor (of Hazleton) for 11 years,” he said. “And I like to use my experiences to help them ... A lot of times, (small towns) feel abandoned by the federal government.”