State Grant Application Period Now Open For Popular Recreation Program

From State Sen. John Gordner

The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) will begin accepting applications for the latest round of grants for community conservation and recreational projects on January 22, 2018, according to state Senator John R. Gordner.

“This is a special year, as it marks the 25th anniversary of the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund,” said Senator Gordner. “Over that time, over 3,000 community park projects and over 12,000 miles in trail projects have been completed or maintained because of this essential program.”

In 2018, DCNR will again focus on grant awards that meet the priorities laid out in the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan.

“As usual, the priorities for the program this year include rehabilitation of trails and community parks, land conservation projects and improved access to Pennsylvania waterways,” said Senator Gordner.

The application period will remain open until April 11, 2018. Grants will be funded through a variety of sources, including the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund, the Environmental Stewardship Fund, the Pennsylvania Recreational Trails Program and the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

DCNR’s Bureau of Recreation and Conservation staff is available to assist in helping applicants develop and submit a competitive grant application.  Detailed program information, access to the online grant application portal and more can be found here

Information on the Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan may be found here. Grant applications are available here.

18 Member Organizations and Individuals Up For Chamber’s Four Awards to be Given at Annual Meeting

A total of 18 member organizations and individuals were nominated for the Columbia Montour Chamber’s four annual awards, which will be given out at the Chamber’s Annual Meeting, sponsored by PPL Electric Utilities, on Thursday, Feb. 8, at Rolling Pines Golf Course

Congratulations to the following individuals and organizations on their nominations, and special thanks to the following four organizations for sponsoring the annual awards: First Columbia Bank (Small Business of the Year), the Columbia Alliance For Economic Growth (Large Business of the Year), Commonwealth Health-Berwick Hospital Center (Community Progress) and the Berwick Industrial Development Association (BIDA) (Outstanding Citizen). 

The Outstanding Citizen Award goes to an individual that is an employee or volunteer for a member of the Chamber, and is involved in civic activities beneficial to the Columbia Montour region and projects a positive community image.

The Small and Large Business of the Year Awards are given to a Chamber member that demonstrates business leadership evidenced by diversification and creativity in the development of new products, services and/or markets, demostrates staying power and positive response to adversity, and demonstrates community involvement. 

The Community Progress Award is given to a Chamber member that shows improvement in the internal/external appearance of a commercial property through new construction, renovation/restoration or remodeling, and has completed that construction within the last three calendar years or be completed by Dec. 2017. 

Governor Wolf Declares Heroin and Opioid Epidemic a Statewide Disaster Emergency

On Wednesday, Jan. 10, Governor Tom Wolf  signed a statewide disaster declaration related to the heroin and opioid epidemic to enhance state response, increase access to treatment, and save lives. The declaration will utilize a command center at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to track progress and enhance coordination of health and public safety agencies.

Among the declaration’s specifics are 13 key initiatives that are the culmination of a collaboration between all state agencies, with focus on the departments of Health, Drug and Alcohol Programs, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, and the Pennsylvania State Police. Details are available here.

In October, President Trump directed the Department of Health and Human Services to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency.

Substance abuse is a significant issue for local employers in hiring and retaining employees. To help deal with the crisis locally, the Chamber is a part of the Columbia-Montour Opioid Coalition, organized by the United Way of Columbia and Montour County. The Coalition meets monthly to share information and find solutions in the areas of prevention, treatment, and enforcement.  

3D Printer Now Available at McBride Memorial Library Aims to Help Promote STEM

Thanks to a grant, there is now a 3D printer available at McBride Memorial Library. The library began using the 3D printer last month with a few special events centered around holiday ornament printing.

For now, the 3D printer is only available for public use as a part of similar special events. However, the plan is to eventually make it available to the general public for any use. A nominal fee would be charged based on the weight of the item being printed to cover the cost of the printing material. 

According to library director Nadine Kramarz, the device was purchased to help promote STEM in the Berwick area and beyond.

“Berwick has always been a town of builders and there is a high demand for people in the STEM fields today,” said Kramarz. “I thought this would help promote STEM in Berwick and long term, there are also possibilities of using it to help others. For instance, there are public libraries around the country that also have 3D printers and contract with developing countries around the world to 3D print various items that are needed in those countries.”

3D printers can print small things, such as the holiday ornaments that were printed at the library’s various events last month, as well as larger things like replacement parts for various devices and even prosthetic limbs. They are also very precise down to such small details like a the threads of a screw. 

In order to 3D print something, whatever is being printed first needs to be designed. There are several software programs available to do so. Thingiverse.com and tinkercad.com are both free programs. The design is then saved as a file on an external drive and is plugged into the 3D printer. 

For more information on the 3D printer and on McBride Library and its various programs, visit its website

Member Spotlight: AGAPE – Love From Above To Our Community

“Being a member of the Chamber has enhanced our relationships with businesses and corporations, extended our outreach for making the business community and others aware of what we do and increased our ability to get the word out about our events. It has also enhanced our community donations beyond churches and individuals.” – Kelly Dent, Extended Services Manager, AGAPE

AGAPE Love From Above to Our Community is a faith-based, non-denominational Christian ministry founded in November 2008 by a group of about 60 people from the local community who met at Wesley United Methodist Church wanting to hear about the three-year-old dream of Billy and Eileen Chapman. Liking the opportunity to implement the words of Matthew 25 and serve their Lord and community, a committee was formed to make it happen. They identified the principle mission: “help fill in the gaps so no one falls through the cracks.” They developed a vision, established values and guidelines and wrote the by-laws for the ministry. The committee reported to the group and the group appointed a 13-member Board of Directors. AGAPE was registered as a charitable organization and approved as a 501(c)(3) in 2009.

As a non-profit charitable ministry, AGAPE accepts financial and in-kind donations, the latter being its largest program. It receives food (perishable and non-perishable), furniture (not badly stained, torn or broken), adult clothes, large and small appliances that work (refrigerators, stoves, washers and dryers, coffee makers, toasters, microwaves, etc.), bedding, mattresses, box springs, bed frames, dishes, utensils and cookware — basically, any items needed to reasonably furnish an apartment or small house.

AGAPE’s “business” is one of only a few in the community that wants to go out of business — meaning those who were once its clients are self-sufficient and can provide for themselves. AGAPE distributes all donated items, if available, free of change, and requires responsibility and accountability from its clients. Sometimes assistance is denied because extremely bad choices have been made, advice is not followed to help themselves, lying, or abuse of the system or conduct is such that assistance it demanded as an entitlement.  AGAPE tries very hard not to be an enabler.

AGAPE received the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank Partner of the Year Award in 2016 for its “fighting hunger” program, and also received accolades for its service to Columbia County during Tropical Storm Lee and the flood of 2011, when it served as a flood recovery center. AGAPE is extremely grateful to the Chamber and the entire community for their continuing support, and could always use volunteers to help it fulfill its mission. For more information on volunteer opportunities, visit AGAPE’s website or call 570-317-2210. 

Member spotlights are chosen via a random drawing from members that submit their business cards at a Business After Hours event. The next Business After Hours is scheduled for Jan. 17 at the Bloomsburg Area YMCA, 30 East 7th St., Bloomsburg. There is also a second Business After Hours scheduled in January at the Danville Child Development Center, 986 Wall St., Danville, on Jan. 31.