Berwick Businesses Asked for Input on Signage

The committee for Berwick, The Next Step continues to meet twice a month to enhance the downtown for the benefit of the entire community. The committee is working on a number of recommendations in the Building a Better Berwick report, which is available online. One of the recommendations is updating the Borough’s signage ordinance, to allow businesses to increase their visibility. Business people are being invited to provide input.

The committee is beginning the process of reviewing the ordinance, and will be making recommendations to Council. These updates may include allowing signage that is perpendicular to buildings, awnings, etc. Any changes would have to comply with PennDOT regulations. The Borough’s current signage ordinance is available here

The committee is seeking input from businesses. Business people in the Borough are invited to provide their input through a brief online survey by Friday, Jan. 18.

Business Program is a Great Opportunity for Local Students

Winners of BizQuiz, PFEW’s version of Jeopardy, celebrate on a busy Wednesday afternoon!

From Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week

Note: The Chamber is hosting a free informational breakfast for those businesses, students and parents that may be interested in learning more about this program on Wednesday, Jan. 23, at 7:30 a.m. at the Greenly Center, 50 East Main St., Bloomsburg (learn more).

There is an award-winning summer economics education program that for forty years has benefitted our local students. Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week (PFEW) immerses rising high school juniors and seniors in the world of business, allowing them to experience firsthand what you face each day. Offered by the Foundation for Free Enterprise Education, PFEW was founded specifically to teach students about the American private enterprise system and provide tools to help students become the great employees and employers of the future. PFEW annually holds five week-long sessions in July and August on the campuses of Lycoming College and the Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, Pa, serving nearly 2,200 students and 250 volunteers each year.

At PFEW, participants are grouped into management teams of junior executives who have been hired to turn around underperforming manufacturing companies. These teams, mentored by adult volunteers called Company Advisors, operate their firms for a computer simulated three-years, competing against other student companies. They formulate production and financial strategies, develop income statements and balance sheets, prepare marketing and advertising campaigns, all the while reacting to a variety of external factors. Sound familiar?

PFEW is designed to give every participant an idea of real-world relevant issues facing today’s businesses. Each day’s activities include four to five presentations from world-class speakers from across the nation who deliver talks that both inspire and motivate our young entrepreneurs for their futures. Does it work? Consider the following quote from 2018 PFEW graduate Maya Moktan from West Chester East High School: “I actively participate in DECA at East, and I am pleasantly surprised at the more in-depth analysis of business at PFEW… However, my favorite part of PFEW by far was the motivational speakers. Each and every one was able to leave a mark in my mind. Each speaker had their own story, and I was left awestruck and truly inspired. At some points, I was almost brought to tears!”

The Chamber proudly supports PFEW and encourages our local companies and civic organizations to provide sponsorship for our students and, if possible, volunteers for the sessions. Every student attends PFEW on a fully tax-deductible $625 scholarship (the actual value of the scholarship exceeds $1,500) which is provided by a local firm, foundation, civic organization, or individual. PFEW is also an approved Educational Improvement Organization through the PA Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program. Scholarship donors are prominently recognized in several publications circulated throughout the state, and each student wears the name of their sponsor on their photo ID badge throughout the week. Students write their sponsors after graduation to report on what they have learned.

The Foundation for Free Enterprise Education proudly announces that they have recently expanded their programming to include the Stock Market GameTM, an interactive in-school game for students in grades 4-12 that teaches them about the Stock Market and Securities Industry. For more information on how to support or get involved with SMG, please contact Jeremy Kropf, Technology and Projects Manager at 814-833-9576 ext. 4, or email.

If you would like to learn more about the award-winning PFEW program and how you can help, please call the Chamber directly or contact Scott Lee, vice president of marketing & development for the Foundation for Free Enterprise Education at 814-833-9576 ext. 8, or emailPFEW is open to all current sophomores and juniors in Pennsylvania and information on attendance, as well as program applications, can be found on the PFEW website. Questions can be directed to Amber Goss, Schools Manager for PFEW, by calling her office at 814-833-9576 ext. 6, or email.

Leadership Central Penn Goes to Court

Leadership Central Penn (LCP) wrapped up 2018 with a trip to the Columbia County Courthouse to learn about the law.  The Hon. Judge James graciously hosted the class for a morning session on the three types of law, the structure of Pennsylvania’s judicial system and his presentation, “The Cost of Justice.” The morning started with a substantive and procedural law overview by Judge James, and the following local attorneys:

  • Michael Smith, Esq. from Hummel, Lewis & Smith – Civil Law
  • David James, Esq. from Harding, Hill & Turowski – Domestics and Family Law
  • Christine Luschas, Esq. from Derr, Pursel, Luschas and Naparsteck – Domestics and Family Law
  • Rebecca Reimiller, Esq., Assistant District Attorney, Columbia County – Criminal Law

The class got an overview of each type of law and how the process works.  Each lawyer shared stories from their career that were entertaining, sad, scary and/or shocking.  Everyone realized that the law we see on television or read about in the news is not even close to the reality of what these professionals deal with on a daily basis.  The class thanks them for being willing to shared their knowledge and stories.

Judge James next presented an LCP staple (“The Cost of Justice”) educating the class on the societal and financial burdens of our legal system.  The class learned of 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 Drug and DUI court can help people recover, and not just be incarcerated.  Courts are constantly being tasked with controlling costs, while legislature continues to pass more laws to be enforced, with no additional funding for enforcement and adjudication. 

After a quick walk across Main St. in downtown Bloomsburg to the Greenly Center, the class was greeted by Adrienne Mael, CEO of the United Way of Columbia & Montour County.  She was joined by the following individuals:

  • Markie L. Troutman, Addictions Coordinator, Bloomsburg MAT Clinic
  • Colleen Brent, United Way Staff
  • Barbara Warunek, Court Programs & Development Director- Columbia County Courthouse
  • Samantha Barger, UW Intern

The class participants were permitted to move from station to station to learn about the United Way’s United in Recovery program and partners.  This included a mock-up of a traditional teenager’s bedroom with items where drugs and money could be hidden. All items were purchased online via Amazon and other websites. These included a fake wall outlet, lip balm that does more than fix chapped lips, a light bulb that hides your stuff, and so much more. Additional information was provided about the opiod epidemic and local, state and federal programs to address this issue.

After lunch, which was provided by Ponduce Farms, the participants met a panel from the Columbia County’s Court Judicial Advocacy Board (CJAB) subcommittee on education. The panelists included:

  • Ashley Mensch, Columbia County Family Center
  • April Miller, Columbia County Children and Youth Administrator
  • Denise Labuda, Columbia County Chief Juvenile Probation Officer
  • Michelle Freed, Domestic Relations

Each panel member told the story of what their organizations do and how they work collectively on the CJAB subcommittee.  The Foundation of the Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce and United Way are both members of this subcommittee, as are some of the superintendents that class met a couple of months ago. 

Each organization is focused on youth programs to ensure kids from birth to adulthood have the supportive and nurturing environment then need to succeed as adults.  Many of these children live in bad situation, or have made some bad choices.  These ladies and their organization work to support these families and young people in the hopes of turning the ship around and headed in a more positive direction.  The class heard some heart wrenching stories of drugs, crime and abuse.  It was nice to know there are so many people working collectively toward solutions that make sense ethically, legally and morally with kids and families as the first priority.

The day was finished with a tour of the Columbia County EMS and new consolidated Columbia/Montour 911 center.  Here, the class saw that when 911 is dialed from a cell phone, technology helps pinpoint the location of the caller. While it won’t get first responders to the caller 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, they help people keep loved ones alive with basic life support and CPR unless paramedics arrive, and help police track and catch reckless drivers all over the phone. Yes, 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.

Chamber Foundation Extends Thanks for Support of Educational Improvement Programs in Workforce Development

The Foundation of the Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce would like to thank the following Chamber members for their support of its educational improvement programs in workforce development:

First Columbia Bank & Trust

First Keystone Community Bank

PPL Electric Utilities


Funds were received through the PA Department of Community & Economic Development’s EITC program.  The Foundation will use these funds to support the programs of Tech Theatre, EVERFI Financial Literacy, STEM Magnet with Bloomsburg University, STEM competition at the Bloomsburg Fair, Classroom in the Hospital, Classroom on Main Street and Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week Scholarships.  Through these programs students from middle and high schools in Columbia and Montour Counties have opportunities to learn inside and outside the classroom, in a unique way not offered traditionally. To learn more about these programs, or other K-12 programs of The Foundation, contact Foundation director, Jeff Emanuel by email or at 570-784-2522.  Thanks again for your support!

Winter Weather Travel Tips

From rabbittransit

  • Plan Ahead: Extreme winter weather may cause delays in paratransit service, so please plan ahead and allow extra time for travel. This is especially important if you’re making a new trip or one you are not completely familiar with. If you need to update a standing ride or cancel a trip, call our Customer Call Center at 1-800-632-9063.
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  • Step Carefully: Bus floors and steps become slippery from snow & ice. Kick the snow from your shoes before stepping on board. Use the handrails and take your time. Always maintain three points of contact—one hand and two feet or two hands and one foot—when boarding the bus.
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