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.  

Welcome OneSource Staffing

More than 400 businesses and organizations belong to the Chamber to receive benefits and support efforts to strengthen their businesses and our region. Increased membership allows us to offer additional programs and benefits, have a stronger voice in advocacy and be involved in more activities and initiatives in our communities. The Chamber welcomes its newest member OneSource Staffing, to help us fulfill our mission.

OneSource Staffing is an employment solutions business that works with both employers and job seekers to fill openings for their clients and help job seekers find work. It offers payroll and HR solutions, staffing and recruiting services and benefits advising. Its service area runs throughout Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania and it specializes in helping find candidates for open positions in clerical, customer service, accounting, light industrial, manufacturing and warehouse positions, and also can handle much more. One Source is “large enough to service, but small enough to care.” Locally, OneSource is located at 7541 Columbia Blvd. (Rt. 11) in Berwick. It can be reached at 570-759-0439 or visit its website.

Increase to Business Mileage Reimbursement in 2018

From ChamberChoice

The business mileage reimbursement rate is used by some employers for computing employee reimbursement amounts when an employee operates a motor vehicle not owned by the employer for the employer’s business purposes. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is responsible for establishing the standard mileage rate.

Recently, the IRS provided that beginning on Jan. 1, 2018, for all miles of business use, the standard mileage rate for transportation or travel expenses is 54.5 cents per mile (up slightly from 53.5 cents in 2017), according to IRS Notice 2018-03.

There are other reasons for which an individual can be reimbursed for mileage such as when rendering gratuitous services to a charitable organization. If an individual or employer has questions about the reimbursement of mileage, or use of a personal vehicle, the advice of tax counsel should be sought.

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

Executive Order Supports Broadband Infrastructure Expansion With Focus on Rural America

In an effort to support the expansion of broadband internet service in rural America, President Trump signed an executive order on Jan. 8 that streamlines the application process for locating wireless facilities on Federal property. The order sets guidelines and timelines for processing applications from private entities. It is hoped that other benefits will be realized from this policy “to use all viable tools to accelerate the deployment and adoption of affordable, reliable, modern high-speed broadband connectivity in rural America.” (Read the full executive order)

The Columbia Montour Chamber continues to advocate for the expansion of broadband in rural areas to support economic growth. In November, the Chamber sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission supporting a petition by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) to keep $140 million for broadband expansion in Pennsylvania. While federal funds have traditionally only been available to regulated telecommunications companies such as Verizon, the PUC and Chamber are seeking greater flexibility to work with other potential providers.