State Rep. David Millard to Host Two Upcoming Drug Forums

State Representative David Millard will host two upcoming drug forums over the next two weeks at local high schools. The first will be on Wednesday, Sept. 6 from 6-8 p.m. at the Berwick High School auditorium, and the second will be the following Wednesday, Sept. 13 from 6-8 p.m. at the Bloomsburg High School auditorium. 

Adults and children are invited to attend these events designed to share information about drug abuse, the opioid crisis and how to avoid drug addiction. Speakers include Jeremy Reese, Columbia County cornoner; Dr. William Rakauskas, a Geisinger psychiatrist; Dr. Joseph Valdez, an independent addiction medicine specialist; Jason Hoch, a pharmacist with Geisinger Bloomsburg Hospital and CMSU; and a representative from a local rehabilitation facility. 

For more information, visit Rep. Millard’s website or Facebook page

Montour County Readdressing Completed

The third and final wave of change-of-address letters for Montour County, Riverside Borough, and Rush Township was sent in mid-August. The readdressing, which was part of the 911 consolidation with Columbia County, was prolonged due to conflicts found in the Danville zip code. Businesses and residents that have not received a change-of-address letter should call the GIS office at 570-387-4930.

The post office will recognize old addresses for a period of one year from the initial notification. Additional information, including links to forms to update drivers’ licenses with PennDOT and business addresses with the PA Department of Revenue, is available at the Montour County website.

Working to Build a Stronger Workforce

Quality employees are important to any size and type of employer. The most successful businesses in our area, particularly those in manufacturing, often cite a skilled and dedicated workforce a key component of that success. The Chamber and its Foundation work to strengthen the area’s current and future workforce in supporting members. The Chamber’s Board of Directors recently approved a policy statement in support of workforce development efforts.

These efforts include:

  • Increasing the emphasis on and funding for internships, apprenticeships, and mentoring programs
  • Collaboration among high schools, technical schools, universities, and educators to meet the needs and concerns of the Commonwealth’s employers
  • Promoting vocational career pathways and earning potential to students at a young age
  • Training employers on workforce development best practices

While some of these efforts focus on skilled trades, others attempt to address issues cited by all types of employers, such as work ethic, lack of interpersonal skills, and an inability to communicate confidently and maturely. The Chamber and its Foundation are finalizing a workforce development plan in line with this policy.

Opioid Coalition Seeks to Curb Substance Abuse and Deaths

Dr. Muhamad Aly Rifai presents to the Columbia Montour Opioid Coalition on Aug. 16.

Representatives from local human service agencies, law enforcement, the medical community, and The Chamber are meeting regularly to reduce opioid abuse and related deaths in the area. Attention is being paid to multiple areas including education, enforcement, and treatment. The Chamber is involved due to the growing issue of substance abuse within the workforce.

On Wednesday, Aug. 16, Dr. Muhamad Aly Rifai, Medical Director for the Lehigh County Center for Recovery, provided an overview to coalition members of the physiology of substance abuse, and current treatment practices. Research shows that certain people are more susceptible to substance addiction. As this research progresses, he believes widespread testing could be available in about five years.

Treating substance abuse is not a “one-size fits all” approach, according to Rifai. Studies indicate that a longer-term treatment plan that includes medicine significantly reduces the likelihood of relapse. The specific medicines used in treatment as well as the length of time of treatment vary. He does not believe that someone in recovery needs to stay on medication for the rest of their life.

The Columbia Montour Opioid Coalition is being coordinated by the United Way of Columbia and Montour County. For more information or to get involved with the Coalition, contact Adrienne Mael at the United Way at 570-784-3134 or email.

Members Learn About Business Opportunities Surrounding Upcoming Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline

Mike Atchie from Williams gives attendees at Tuesday’s Learn at Lunch an overview of the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline project. He also spoke about the WILLShop Local mobile app, which will encourage workers to patronize local businesses and which local businesses and sign up to be listed on for free.

An engaged group of individuals from Chamber member organizations heard the latest updates on the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline project and also about the many opportunities for business development that will be brought about by the pipeline project once it gets underway later this year. Mike Atchie, director of community outreach for Williams, spoke to the group at the August Learn at Lunch, held on Aug. 8 at Wesley United Methodist Church. He began the presentation by giving the audience a brief summary of how and why the project came about and everything that has happened in the three-plus years to get the necessary approvals and permits. Williams is awaiting a few final permits and then plans to get the project started in the fall, taking a about a year to complete. The purpose of the pipeline is to add additional transmission capacity for gas coming out of the Marcellus Shale region in north central Pennsylvania so that the gas can be more easily exported to other states and areas up and down the east coast through the Transco pipeline. According to statistics released last month by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, PA ranked second in the nation in natural gas production for the fourth straight year in 2016. 

The Atlantic Sunrise pipeline will run through Columbia County on its way to connect with the Transco pipeline in southern Lancaster County. Some workers that will construct the pipeline in Columbia County will be from outside the immediate area and will therefore need to locate goods and services. In order to encourage its contractors to patronize local businesses during their time here, Williams has developed a mobile application called WILLShop Local and all local businesses are encouraged to sign up, free of charge, to be listed on this app. 

The next Learn at Lunch is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 10, from 12-1 p.m. (location TBA) and will feature a speakers talking about the ChamberChoice affinity programs that are available as benefits of Chamber membership, specifically the Penn National business insurance program and the OnDemand Energy program.