Legislation to designate a section of Route 981 in Mount Pleasant Township to honor and remember late state Rep. Mike Reese has earned unanimous approval from the House Transportation Committee and moves ahead toward a vote in the full House of Representatives.

“While this is obviously a bill I never wanted to have to introduce, I am humbled by the opportunity to honor Mike and carry out the initiative of thousands of his constituents who have signed a petition requesting this road renaming,” the bill’s prime sponsor, Rep. Ryan Warner, R-Westmoreland/Fayette, said. “The support of the people who he served, and those of us who had the privilege of serving with him, speaks volumes about the kind of man he was.”

House Bill 1101 designates a portion of Route 981 from its intersection with Route 819 to its intersection with Route 2021 in Mount Pleasant Township as the Honorable Mike Reese Memorial Highway.

In early December, Reese was diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19) and had quarantined for several weeks before dying suddenly on Jan. 2 at age 42 of an apparent brain aneurysm.

Nick Molitor of Mount Pleasant created a change.org petition about a month ago to rename a roadway within the 59th District in honor of Reese, setting a goal of obtaining 2,500 signatures. As of Wednesday morning, 2,434 people had signed the petition.

“It speaks volumes about how much this guy touched everyone,” Molitor said previously of the community’s response.

Reese, of Mount Pleasant Township, had been elected to his seventh term in the House of Representatives in November after running unopposed to represent the 59th Legislative District.

Reese had represented the 59th District, which encompasses portions of Somerset and Westmoreland counties, including Cook, Donegal, Fairfield, Ligonier, Mount Pleasant and St. Clair townships, along with parts of Hempfield and Unity townships and Bolivar, Donegal, Laurel Mountain, Ligonier, New Florence and Seward boroughs, since 2009.

Leslie Baum Rossi was chosen as the Republican candidate to run in the May 18 special election to fill the vacant 59th District House seat. She will run against Democratic candidate and Ligonier Borough councilwoman Mariah Fisher, and Libertarian Robb Luther.

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