Leadership Central Penn Heads to a Special Place to Learn About Special Services and Leadership Development

Members of the LCP class listen to a presentation during October’s class meeting.

In Millville in northern Columbia County, you’ll find Camp Victory where the signs read a “A Special Place for Special Kids.” Tucked away in the countryside outside of Bloomsburg, among the trees clinging to summer green, refusing to give way to fall colors, is a truly amazing venue for learning about organizations trying to make a positive impact on those in need. Not only is Camp Victory one of those organizations, but, as a part of the 2017-18 Leadership Central Penn class’ monthly meeting two weeks ago on Oct. 19, it also hosted 10 others that are making Columbia and Montour counties a better place for everyone. Leadership Central Penn is sponsored by Bloomsburg UniversityKawneerSEKISUI SPI and USG

This year’s LCP Human Services day included presenters from The Columbia County Coalition for Human Services, The Women’s Center, AGAPE, Caring Communities, Columbia Child Development Program – Head Start, Community Strategies Group (formerly Columbia County Housing & Development Authority), Family Center, United Way of Columbia and Montour County, Geisinger Bloomsburg Hospital and Danville Child Development Center’s Early Intervention Services. 

The morning presenters faced a monumental task of sharing all the good work their organizations do in 15 minutes presentations. After 10 presentations and two breaks, 21 professionals in the LCP program were emotionally and mentally drained. They learned about all the life changing work happening, in many cases unseen, with few resources and even fewer dollars, throughout the area to support people that need a helping hand.

To find out more about these organizations and how you can help please contact the Columbia County Human Services Coalition, the Montour County Human Services Coalition or the United Way of Columbia and Montour County.

Tina Welch from Welch Performance Consulting gives a presentation during the afternoon session.

The group then worked during the afternoon with Tina Welch, founder of Welch Performance Consulting (WPC), to focus on leadership development. The group discussed different philosophies on leadership and how to shape their own leadership skills and philosophy. It also used a personality assessment instrument to understand key aspects of communication, a critical leadership competency, by first understanding their own communication tendencies, how to identify the personality styles of others they work with and lead, and then how to modify their communication to meet the needs of others. The class was separated into their project teams where they were able to discuss the personality makeup of the team. They identified strengths and gaps in the team and will now go into their community service projects with a team strategy that will help accelerate their success.

Chamber Provides Input on Family Sustaining Jobs to Governor’s Task Force

A task force comprised of representatives of business, labor, education, and Governor Wolf’s cabinet are holding a series of panel discussions around the state to gather input on how to support and grow Pennsylvania’s middle class through family sustaining jobs. Following the conclusion of the meetings, the Middle Class Task Force will present recommendations to the governor later this year. Chamber President Fred Gaffney participated in one of the meetings held Monday, Oct. 30 in Pittston.

Issues discussed at the meeting echoed those voiced by local members. Transportation and basic skills training are challenges for individuals trying to get from low to middle income. Encouraging skilled trades is needed to meet the needs of manufacturing. Promoting opportunities in education and nursing statewide to students can help bridge the gap between supply and demand.  WBRE/WYOU was on hand to report on the discussion.

“As there are clear commonalities across the state, I am hopeful that recommendations to the Governor will result in the realignment of resources to address at least some of these issues,” said Gaffney. “There are plenty of good jobs available in our area. We look forward to greater collaborations with regional and statewide partners to help connect people with these opportunities.”

The co-chairs for the task force are: Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry President Gene Barr, Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Assistant Vice Chancellor Dr. Sue Mukherjee and Pennsylvania Workforce Development Association Chairperson Susie Snelick. Other members include: PA Dept. of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin, PA Dept. of Labor and Industry Acting Secretary Jerry Oleksiak, and PA Dept. of Education Secretary Pedro Rivera.

Chamber Helps Cut Ribbon on Columbia Child Development Program’s Newly-Dedicated Playground

(L-R): Fred Gaffney, president, Columbia Montour Chamber; Cassie Weaver, administrator, Columbia Child Development Program; Debbie Jones, CCDP Child Care Coordinator; Sylvia Costa, CCDP board member; Jennifer Johnson, CCDP administrative assistant; Bernie Landers, CCDP board member; Virginia Thompson & Marge Duck, daughters of Florence Thompson


The Chamber had the pleasure of being on hand to help cut the ribbon on the newly-dedicated Florence Thompson Memorial Playground at the Columbia Child Development Program on Friday afternoon, Oct. 20. Nearly 20 friends, donors and board members of CCDP were on hand to celebrate the new renovations on the playground, which included new, softer artificial turf. Thompson, a long time board member of CCDP, bequeathed funds to CCDP to help pay for the improvements to the playground. Her two daughters were on hand for the event, which was followed by a brief reception for the attendees. 

Chamber Renews Call to Bloomsburg Council for More Information

On Monday, Oct. 9, Bloomsburg Town Council voted 6-1 to advertise an ordinance that would add considerable detail to the Town Manager’s job description. In previous public meetings regarding this issue, the Chamber has suggested that Council take a more comprehensive approach to detailing the processes of Town Hall. At the most recent Council meeting, the Chamber offered specific suggestions on how to improve communications.

An original draft of the ordinance was considered by Council earlier in the summer. Public concern over the language as well as the process by which the draft was developed led Council to send the ordinance back to committee for further discussion. Following several public workshops, the Town’s Personnel Committee was working on revising the draft ordinance. However, the Administration/Finance Committee forwarded a version at its meeting Oct. 4, and another version was apparently sent to Council members the afternoon of Oct. 9.

“I hope you can appreciate how difficult it is for the public to follow issues,” said Chamber President Fred Gaffney at the Oct. 9 meeting.

During the Bloomsburg Candidate Forum held Oct. 4, several of the incumbent Council members asked that concerns be brought to them proactively to be discussed and addressed, rather than having contentious Council meetings. With the confusion regarding the development of this ordinance, the Chamber again suggested that all committee meeting agendas, prior meeting minutes, and relevant materials be placed on the town’s website in advance of meetings.

“This would allow all interested parties time to review materials, gather information, ask questions, and provide relevant feedback at appropriate times,” said Gaffney. “Refining the process should save time and money, and encourage more positive collaboration within Town Hall and with the public.”

The Chamber will be working on a list of other concerns to present to the incoming Town Council following the November election.

Bloomsburg Council Candidates Discuss Flood Protection, Parking and Open Government

Ten candidates vying for Bloomsburg Town Council expressed their views on the most pressing issues facing the Town, how to better interact with Bloomsburg University, and how to support business growth at a candidate forum held Wednesday, Oct. 4 at the Alvina Krause Theatre, home of the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble. Several candidates emphasized the need to address parking management as a major issue for the Town. Stormwater management and flood protection were also discussed, as was managing the annual spring Block Party event. Challengers expressed the importance of having open government. The event was sponsored by the Joint Governmental Affairs Committee of the Chamber and the Columbia-Montour Visitors Bureau.

Audio from the candidate forum is available. The first portion of the program included the eight candidates running for four general Council seats. Responses to the first question begin with Vince DeMelfi with the following order: James Garman, William Kreisher, Doug Reiter, Toni Bell, Joe Martarano, Bonnie Crawford, and Sandy Davis. The second question begins with Mr. Garman and follows the same order, etc. The second portion of the forum was for the two registered mayoral candidates and responses begin with Eric Bower, followed by Carey Howell.

A second forum is being sponsored by the Bloomsburg Area Landlord’s Association on Wednesday, Oct. 18 from 7-9 p.m. at the Greenly Center on Main Street in Bloomsburg. Please note the correct time, as the time was incorrectly reported as 6-8 p.m. at the first forum.