There’s Still Time for Food, Catering and Beverage Vendors to Sign Up for the Third Annual Taste of the Valley

As originally communicated over the summer, the third annual Taste of the Valley will be held this year at Ponduce Farms, 270 White Church Rd., Elysburg, on Sunday, Oct. 15, from 12-3 p.m. Interested vendors in the food, catering and beverage categories are still welcome to sign up. Vendors will be accepted up through the day of the event, and there is no cost for vendors to participate.

After being held in Lewisburg and Sunbury in its first two years, Taste of the Valley will be held in Columbia County this year as it attempts to highlight businesses in Columbia and Montour Counties. This annual event provides patrons with samples of local food and beverages from the areas top farms, wineries, breweries and restaurants. This annual fall event, which began in 2015, is primarily a fundraiser to benefit the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, but it also offers an opportunity for businesses in the food and beverage industry to have their products featured in front of a large audience ― all for a good cause. 

For more information or to register as a vendor, download a vendor information form, visit Taste of the Valley’s Facebook page, or call Sharon at AgChoice Farm Credit at 570-524-2204 or email

PA Department of Health Seeks Input on Regulations for Medical Marijuana Program

The Pennsylvania Department of Health is seeking input from patients and their caregivers on what should be included in the proposed regulations for the state’s new medical marijuana program. The deadline to submit public comments is next Monday, Oct. 2. The draft regulations can be viewed on the PA Dept. of Health’s website. The draft regulations were posted just last Friday, so the public comment period is set for just 10 days. Anyone interested in making comments should go the department’s online form to submit. 

Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana was signed into law last year and is expected to be fully implemented in early 2018. The program allows residents of PA that have one or more of 17 medical conditions to access medical marijuana with a prescription. Locally, Green Thumb Industries (GTI) is in the process of setting up a medical marijuana cultivation center in downtown Danville, where it will grow (but not distribute) medical marijuana that will be distributed in other parts of the state. GTI expects its Danville operation to be up and running by the end of the year, and plans to add up to 100 jobs in Danville within the next three years. Earlier this month, it held a job fair and town hall at the Danville Borough building, both of which attracted hundreds of attendees. 

2017-18 Leadership Central Penn Class Begins With Quest to Build Strong Teams, Features Turtles and Lava

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you know that turtles can swim in lava and have feelings?  The 2017-18 class of the Leadership Central Penn program learned that and much more on Wednesday, Sept. 20, when the group traveled to the Quest Team Building area at Bloomsburg University, where 20 strangers got closer than any could have imagined while solving problems and completing tasks. Leadership Central Penn is sponsored by Bloomsburg University, Kawneer, SEKISUI SPI and USG

This year’s class is comprised of 20 professionals from three nonprofits and 11 companies – including Chamber members PPL Electric Utilities, Geisinger, SEKISUI SPI, Service 1st Federal Credit Union, First Keystone Community Bank, Autoneum North America, Bloomsburg University, Kawneer, Girton Manufacturing and First Columbia Bank. Other class members are from nonprofits the Hope Center, For the Cause and the Columbia Montour Chamber. 

So how do you get such a dynamic group to learn names, professional and personal strengths, and weaknesses – all in a single day? You have the group work a ship in rough seas, flip a capsized life raft (actually a tarp) while all standing on it, race across a lava field (actually imaginary lava on a grass field) on the backs of turtles (actually small squares of plywood), build a house out of rope, and realize that personal space is definitely not part of team building. The group was separated into teams to use their individual skills collectively to solve a variety of problems such as these, each with its own complexities and requirements for an array of talents. Balance, strength, endurance, problem solving, listening, leading, and following was all needed through the day. At times, these were all needed simultaneously to ensure success on tasks.  By the end of the day, the group was hot and tired, but also smiling and grateful. 

During break, the group was challenged to a couple of riddles, and left at the end of the day wondering what a person who pushes their car into a hotel and says “I’m broke and out” could possibly mean. One thing everyone knew for sure was that they were in this program together, and better off because of it.

Individuals learned who in the group were doers, thinkers, influencers and relaters. They deduced what that means for success in professional endeavors and what each group’s strengths bring to organizational success. At the end of the day there were no losers, and everyone won the day. At the debrief, words like “team” and “family” were used by individuals to describe how they felt about these former strangers.

Here are some additional photos from the day via the Chamber’s Facebook page.

From Danville to Rwanda: Bason Coffee Owner Completes Coffee-Planting Feasibility Study

Brad Bason, owner of Bason Coffee Roasting, and Elisa, one of his guides in Rwanda.

 

By Lisa Z. Leighton

Twenty years after the genocide that devastated Rwanda, families continue to put their lives back together. Children have lost fathers and women have lost husbands, but the strength and perseverance of the Rwandan people was recently witnessed by Bradford (Brad) Bason, owner of Bason Coffee Roasting, and his sixteen year old daughter, Elizabeth, on a recent trip to Rwanda.

The excursion wasn’t a pleasure trip, but rather an opportunity to complete a feasibility study and draft a business plan that might assist local families with increased and more efficient coffee planting and production.

The Bason family isn’t a stranger to the region. In fact, Elizabeth traveled to Rwanda twice before this trip and served as a guide of sorts for her father. Over the years, through their home church, Bloomsburg Christian Church, the Basons have supported the City of Joy Rwanda mission and the ministry of Todd and Andrea Ellingson

For a week in August, Brad and Elizabeth traveled to Gatagara, about two hours south of the Rwandan capital of Kigali, and met with local farmers and government officials to see how their experience with coffee planting and production might serve the Rwandan community. They analyzed soil samples, climate, rainfall, harvesting techniques and production methods to see how operations might be improved.

Now that the feasibility study has been completed and the varieties of beans have been selected based on the trip’s findings, Brad is writing a business plan that will be presented to the City of Joy Rwanda board of directors. Upon approval, a fundraising effort for $15,000 will be launched; once $10,000 is secured, the project will take root.

Funds raised will be used for additional land acquisition as well as fair labor rates for coffee farm workers. Brad hopes that the coffee farm will largely be women-run, with a particular emphasis on employing widows who continue to suffer from the loss caused by the genocide decades ago.

Because the beans will be sold to a co-op, the Basons will likely never see the beans that they will help to grow, but the impact of their research will be felt one-thousand fold.

To learn more about the effort, contact Brad at 570-764-2740, or email.

Lisa Z. Leighton is a marketing professional and freelance writer who lives in Columbia County.

 

Green coffee cherries hang full on coffee plants. They are picked when they ripen to red.

This machine pull the hulls off of the ripe red cherries, exposing the coffee bean inside.

Women carrying full sacks of picked coffee beans in Rwanda.

 

 

 

 

Susquehanna Greenway Partnership Officially Designates Danville a ‘River Town’

Danville is presented with plaques and signage officially designating it as a Susquehanna Greenway Partnership River Town on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017. (L-R) Trevor Finn, Montour County Commissioner;, Tom Forrestal, Merck Cherokee Pharmaceuticals and Danville Business Alliance Board of Directors; Matt Beltz, Columbia Montour Chamber; Dr. Ed A’Zary, Danville Borough Council; John Rodman, Danville Borough Council and Danville Business Alliance Board of Directors; Trish Carothers (kneeling), Susquehanna Greenway Partnership; Jamie Shrawder, Danville Borough; Ken Holdren, Montour County Commissioner; Gail Kulp, Susquehanna Greenway Partnership; Bob Stoudt, Montour Area Recreation Commission; Lauren Stoudt (front); David ‘Otto’ Kurecian, Columbia Montour Visitors Bureau; Dan Hartman, Montour County Commissioner; Ben Stoudt; Brian Stoudt.

Danville has successfully completed the process to be designated a River Town by the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership and a brief ceremony was held on Friday, Sept. 8 to unveil the official River Town signage at River Front Park in downtown Danville. 

The Montour County Commissioners and representatives from Danville Borough, Columbia Montour Chamber, Columbia-Montour Visitors Bureau, Danville Business Alliance and the Montour Area Recreation Commission were all on hand to celebrate this achievement.

The Susquehanna Greenway Partnership is a nonprofit that seeks to:

  • Determine the status of regional greenway efforts;
  • Build upon public participation activities previously conducted in the corridor;
  • Promote the importance of strong community involvement in present and future greenway development;
  • Provide a diverse and inclusive program to maximize input from all segments of the population; and
  • Promote local ownership of the greenway plan and its implementation!

The SGP’s River Town program provides assistance to communities that are located on the Susquehanna Greenway “that seek to revitalize and celebrate their River connection, based on four key principles:

  • Respect and work with the nature of the Susquehanna River
  • Connect with the River (physically, visually, spiritually)
  • Involve people with the River and with their River Town
  • Recognize that economic development favors River Towns

Communities that would like to become an official SGP-designed River Town need to go through a process including a River Town assessment, define a community vision and goals, develop an action plan for revitalization projects, identify partners for implementation and collectively promote all River Towns. Through the help of many local community leaders and partners, Danville recently joined its nearby neighbors Lewisburg and Selinsgrove, among many others, as a SGP-designed River Towns. Berwick is also currently in the process of becoming a River Town.