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. 

Member News – January 10, 2018

Member News

  • PA CareerLink Columbia/Montour Counties will host a networking and seminar next Tuesday, Jan. 16, from 9-11:30 a.m. at the Columbia County Agriculture & Human Services Building, located at 702 Sawmill Rd., Bloomsburg. The seminar will focus on unemployment compensation issues, specifically relief from charges/suitable work. The seminar will run from 9:30-11:30, with a brief networking session at 9 a.m. The Columbia Montour Chamber is co-sponsoring this event. For more information, read this flyer, or to register, call 570-387-6288 or email


  • GAF, one of the Chamber’s newest members and North America’s largest roofing products manufacturer, will host a job fair on Saturday, Feb. 10, from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. at its New Columbia facility, located at 2093 Old Route 15. GAF is looking for dedicated, safety-minded individuals with manufacturing experience to join its team. An iPad mini 4 will be given out to one attendee that has completed an online job application prior to arriving at the job fair and who also completes an information card at the event. Attendees will have an opportunity to learn more about GAF, meet its employees, tour the facility and learn about its hiring process. Refreshments will be available. For more information, see this flyer and visit GAF’s career website.


  • MePush is looking to hire a mid- to senior-level IT wizard! For more information on the position requirements, visit the job posting


  • Wesley United Methodist Church has been hosting the community friendship meal since 2002. Guests in need are able to be served a warm and nutritious meal every Saturday morning from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., free of charge. Volunteer groups are needed to keep this meal going in the future. If you have a group that is interested in volunteering for a few hours on a Saturday morning during the year, please visit the church’s website and click on “community friendship meal.” For questions, please contact Katy Miller at 570-441-2850. Please note that beginning Jan. 6, the community friendship meal will be held at St. Matthew Lutheran Church, 123 N. Market St., Bloomsburg, while the Wesley UM Church kitchen goes through a renovation that may last 8-12 weeks. 


Workers’ Compensation Costs to Increase Following Approval of Mid-Year Cost Hike Filing

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

On Dec. 27, the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance announced its approval of the Pennsylvania Compensation Rating Bureau’s unprecedented mid-year loss cost increase filing, with a Feb. 1 effective date. The filing was prompted by the state Supreme Court’s decision last year in the Protz v. Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board case, which threw out Impairment Rating Evaluations. IREs, a feature of the workers’ compensation process since 1996, are conducted by physicians designated by the Department of Labor & Industry who utilize guidelines from the American Medical Association to assess an injured employee’s level of impairment in order to determine their disability status.  The Court’s holding was essentially based on a technicality and led to an overall change in loss costs of +6.06 percent.

At the time the decision was handed down, the PA Chamber warned its members that workers’ compensation cost hikes in 2018 would be a likely result. In fact, in September the PCRB testified to the House Labor and Industry Committee that the overall impact on employers that carry workers’ comp insurance policies is expected to be at least $165 million – and that total doesn’t even account for employers who self-insure, meaning that the impact will likely be far greater.

Legislation has since been introduced to address the decision and stave off cost increases. In a statement issued following the Dept. of Insurance’s approval of the rate hike, PA Chamber President Gene Barr issued a statement that called for the timely approval of the bills to help mitigate the impact of the increases. “The PCRB’s filing and the Department of Insurance’s subsequent approval clearly demonstrate the need for swift legislative action,” Barr said. “The PA Chamber is strongly urging the General Assembly to act on H.B. 1840 or companion legislation in the Senate, S.B. 963 – legislation to reinstate the impairment rating evaluation process with the Supreme Court’s concerns addressed.”

Welcome WVIA Public Media

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, the its first new member of 2018, WVIA Public Media, to help us fulfill our mission.

WVIA Public Media has been serving Northeast and Central Pennsylvania for more than 50 years and is the local PBS (television) and NPR (radio) affiliate. Based in Pittston, Pa., WVIA operates channel 44 in the local television market, as well as five radio stations in or around the Greater Susquehanna Valley – 100.1 FM (Lewisburg), 95.7 FM (Selinsgrove), 105.7 FM (Sunbury), 89.7 FM (Williamsport) and 103.5 FM (Wellsboro). It also incorporates digital-only programming into its offerings. Jennifer Rempe is WVIA’s new corporate development representative responsible for the Columbia/Montour region, and can be reached at 570-602-1138 or 321-298-9843 or by email

Leadership Central Penn Learns About the Cost of Justice and Being Unprepared

January took Leadership Central Penn participants to court for some education on our proactive judicial system in Columbia and Montour Counties. The morning kicked off with some morning motivation provided by Tina Welch with Welch Performance Consulting. The highlight was a class participant sharing her story of adoption of her children presided over by the day’s first presenter, the Honorable Thomas James, President Judge of the Columbia County Court of Common Pleas. 

Judge James gave a presentation titled “The Cost of Justice” and walked the group through not only the financial costs, but the societal and cultural costs many of us don’t think about related to our judicial system. He spoke about some of the many innovative judicial programs like drug and DUI treatment court, veterans court, electronic monitoring home detention program and juvenile court wood-cutting program for restitution. Programs like the electronic monitoring program have saved the county $1.68 million in six years as opposed to incarceration. Courts are constantly being tasked with controlling costs, while legislatures continues to pass more laws to be enforced, with no additional funding to do so.

Once the class learned of all the costs of simple infractions like speeding tickets and the like, it realized the courts bills look a lot like those cell phone bills that everyone knows. A quote summed up how the group felt. “If you love the law and if you love scrapple, you shouldn’t watch either being made.”

The rest of the morning and early afternoon was spent with the Honorable Gary Norton, Judge of the Columbia County Court of Common Pleas, and Columbia County Assistant District Attorney Dan Lynn. They walked through a recent murder case from Columbia County that has been completely closed with all appeals exhausted, sparing the group some of the more gruesome details. The class learned about crime scenes, evidence processing, motions, discovery, the various pretrial hearings, and got to see into the minds of a jury. This was not 12 angry men and women, although there may have been a few in the class after what was learned about the case. One thing that was most surprising was a motion by the defense that was denied, but which eventually led to the basis of the motion being used for a full defense. Had the motion been upheld, everyone wondered what sort of defense would have been offered. 

It was realized that cases don’t wrap up in a nice bow and are not as straight forward as television programs would have us believe. In some courts, you cannot even refer to the person who was murdered as the “victim.” The court’s job is to provide a fair and impartial hearing and that all are innocent until proven guilty. Some felt this marginalized the victim, but it was to ensure an impartial trial for the person. No one wants to put an innocent person in prison, and our system does its best to preserve the freedoms we all love in the U.S.

After the case discussion, the class was introduced to Fred Hunsinger, Columbia County public safety director, and he spoke about all the work being done to be prepared for a worst-case scenario in our area.  Whether it is a flood, ice dam on the river, a runaway government blimp with a razor sharp steel wire dragging behind, or a nuclear accident, there are people at the ready to leap into action at the Columbia County Emergency Management Service (EMS) center. These are normal everyday people, that when called upon, will coordinate military, private and civilian resources to tackle any disaster. It is up to us to be prepared. The Ready PA app, and website are two resources that families may find helpful to be prepared for emergencies.

The day was finished with a tour of the Columbia County EMS and newly-consolidated Columbia/Montour 911 center. Here the group saw that when 911 is called from a cell phone, technology helps pinpoint the call’s location. While it won’t get first responders to you directly, it helps narrow the field. The 911 operators really are superheroes in headsets. This was one where television just might have it right. They deliver babies in cars along I-80, help people keep loved ones alive with basic life support and CPR, and help police track and catch reckless drivers – all over the phone. They even get calls about people’s microwaves not working or with questions about parades and toy donations.  They do it all with professionalism, recognition attributed to first responders and grace.

Leadership Central Penn is sponsored by Bloomsburg UniversityKawneerSEKISUI SPI and USG.