PPL Electric Utilities Expands Reliability Upgrades

PPL Electric Utilities continues to add smart grid automation on its system to increase reliability.

Smart grid improvements have been a major factor in allowing the utility to reduce the number of outages by 30 percent since 2007. The next five years are expected to bring another 15 percent improvement.

The company reports about 4,600 smart grid switches have been installed across its service area since 2012, when the first smart grid pilot project launched in the Harrisburg area. Now, there are smart grid devices nearly everywhere on the utility’s system which covers all or part of 29 counties in central and eastern Pennsylvania.

These switches, and the computer brains behind them, automatically detect a problem on the grid and work within minutes to isolate the affected area and reroute power around the trouble spot.

Included in the total number of switches installed so far are about 600 switches added this year. More installations are planned over the next few years and the system should be fully outfitted by the end of 2020. By that time, more than 5,000 smart grid switches will be part of the PPL grid.

The utility’s smart grid work recently was honored by the Southeast Electric Exchange, an industry group, with an Industry Excellence Award. PPL’s reliability satisfaction score is among the leaders nationwide, according to J.D. Power.

Member News – May 3, 2017

Member News


Planet Fitness Hosts Ribbon Cutting and Grand Opening Tonight

Planet Fitness, holds a ribbon cutting ceremony at 4 p.m. tonight, May 3, followed by a public grand opening event that will run until 7 p.m. at their new location in the Columbia Mall in Bloomsburg. There will be giveaways and raffle prizes. Danni Allen, 2013 winner of NBC’s The Biggest Loser, will also be on site to share her fitness journey, tips and lead group workouts. 


Geisinger Hosts “Caring for Every Woman” Tomorrow Evening 

Geisinger Health System hosts”Caring for Every Woman,” tomorrow, May 4, from 5–8 p.m. at the Pine Barn Inn, Danville. This free event will feature women’s wellness education and professional networking as well as live music, appetizers, health screenings and a physician panel discussion. Learn about the health issues facing women of all ages from physicians in neuroscience, urology, cardiology, obstetrics and gynecology, orthopaedics and breast health. Seating is limited, so register at geisinger.org/events


Free Skin Cancer Screening in Danville

Geisinger Health System will provide free skin cancer screenings on Tuesday, May 9 from 1–5 p.m. at Geisinger Dermatology & Mohs Surgery, 115 Woodbine Lane, Danville. Appointments are required. To register, visit geisinger.org/events or call 800-275-6401.


Small Business Development Center to Host First Step Seminar in Bloomsburg

Have you ever thought about starting your own business, but weren’t quite sure if it would be right for you? Or maybe you want to know what paperwork you need in order to open your doors? These and several other common questions for small businesses will covered at the First Step Seminar given by the Wilkes University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) on Friday, May 12, at noon at the Downtown Bloomsburg, Inc. Business Incubator, 151 E. Main St., Bloomsburg. Laura Haden of the SBDC will speak about the different legal structures a business can be, how to write a business plan and create financial projections, and much more. Cost is $15 for the First Step book. Walk-ins are welcome but pre-registration is preferred. Register by calling 570-408-4334, email or online at pasbdc.org/events


First Columbia Hosts Chris Herren

First Columbia Bank will host speaker Chris Herren at Bloomsburg University on Wednesday, May 17 at 7 p.m. at Gross Auditorium in Carver Hall. Doors open at 6 p.m. and this event is open to the public. The founder of the Herren Project, Herren is a former college basketball and NBA player who struggled with substance abuse for much of his basketball career and overdosed on heroin in June of 2008. With the help of friends and family, he has been clean since August 1, 2008 and has traveled the country telling his story to increase education and public awareness on the dangers of substance abuse and to ultimately help others one person at a time. He was also the subject of a 2011 ESPN 30 for 30 documentary titled Unguarded. 

This event is open to the public. However, seating is limited and will be on a first-come, first-serve basis. For more information on this event, visit First Columbia’s website or Facebook page.


Public Meeting to Address Flood Impacts in Danville

Floods and flood insurance have impacted Danville Borough, and the public is invited to a meeting to learn about a flood resiliency initiative that aims to resolve many of these issues. The meeting will be held on Thursday, May 18, at 6 p.m. in the Borough Hall, 239 Mill St., Danville. The purpose of the meeting is to review flood mitigation ideas, gain a better understanding of residents’ needs and discuss preliminary survey results. It is part of a larger flood resiliency initiative being undertaken by SEDA-COG in several communities within Pennsylvania’s central region, and is funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission. For information, contact Jamie Shrawder at 570-275-3091.


Geisinger Seeks Community Members for Hot Air Balloon Festival Planning Committee

Geisinger Health System will host the inaugural Dream Big Hot Air Balloon Festival, October 6-7 at Spyglass Ridge Winery in Sunbury. In order to encourage participation and feedback from the community and gain more ideas, Geisinger is currently seeking additional community members to serve on a planning committee for this event. If interested in participating, please contact Linda Vaji at 570-214-2581 or email


First Columbia Announces Changes to Board of Directors

First Columbia Bank recently announced the retirement of board chairman Glenn Halterman. He had served as chairman of the board of directors since 2003 and on the board since 1984. Edwin Wenner was appointed to succeed Halterman as chairman. He has been on the board since 2014. The board also appointed Russell Cotner to serve as a director. Cotner is the president of Cotner Farms, Inc. and vice president of Boyd Station, LLC. For more information, read the entire press release

Member Spotlight: Child Care Information Services of Columbia, Montour & Northumberland Counties

“Membership in the Columbia Montour Chamber has allowed us to network with area businesses and agencies to present ourselves and our services as a resource for employees to maintain employment and for clients involved with other human service agencies.”

– Joanne Blass, Director, CCIS of Columbia, Montour & Northumberland Counties.

The Child Care Information Services (CCIS) agencies are the hub of child care information for all citizens of Pennsylvania. The CCIS helps to educate families on what to look for in quality childcare, including the Keystone Stars program, and how to access other needed services. The CCIS also administers the Child Care Works subsidized child care program for eligible working families from the PA Department of Human Services (DHS), working closely with all area child care providers to maintain agreements to accept subsidized funding and provide valuable services to families and children.

There is a CCIS office for each county in the state. Locally, that office is located in Danville at the Danville Child Development Center (DCDC), which has held the DHS grant for CCIS agencies in Montour County since 1992. In 2013, it changed from CCIS of Montour County to CCIS of Columbia Montour and Northumberland Counties, and now serves families in all three counties. It is the only agency that provides subsidized child care funding through DHS.

The CCIS has membership in both the Columbia and Montour County Human Services coalitions and is a member of the Northumberland County Head Start Policy Council. The CCIS participates in the annual Children’s Fair at the Columbia Mall and organizes annual events to celebrate Week of the Young Child and PA Promise for Children month.

For more information about CCIS, visit its website.

Member spotlights run monthly and 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 May 17 at the Columbia County Christian School. 

Bucknell SBDC Launches InnovateHER Business Challenge

State Representative Lynda Schlegel Culver and the Bucknell University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) announce the launch of the 2017 InnovateHER Business Challenge, a prize competition designed to unearth innovative products and services that help, impact and empower the lives of women and families.  Through InnovateHER, the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) is seeking products or services that fill a need in the marketplace and have the potential for commercialization. As a regional host, the Bucknell SBDC will hold a local competition and nominate the winner to the SBA, who will then identify 10 finalists to vie for $70,000 in prize money. Prizes for Bucknell’s local competitors for 2017 will be announced using the hashtag #InnovateHER across @BucknellSBDC Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts.

This competition will spur national conversation, collaboration, and cooperation at all levels to support women and families. Local competitions will be hosted to select entrepreneurs to advance to the semi-final round. From the pool of semifinalists, SBA will select up to 10 finalists who will be invited to the National InnovateHER: Innovating for Women Business Challenge in mid-2017.  Targeted applicants are entrepreneurs seeking consulting assistance from the SBDC or who have benefitted from the services of the center as they started and grew their businesses in central Pennsylvania. Entrepreneurs who have a product, service, or technology that has a positive impact on the lives of women and families should submit entries to the SBDC via email by May 11.

More information is available at the Bucknell SBDC website

Welcome Cerridwen’s Garden

More than 550 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, Cerridwen’s Garden, to help us fulfill our mission.

Located at 980 Columbia Blvd. (Rt. 11) next to Giant in the Scott Town Center, Cerridwen’s Garden is a floral gift shop and garden center. It specializes in locally handmade wreaths and is open 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday. 

Additional contact information is available on the Chamber’s Online Directory

A reminder that anyone who recommends Chamber membership will receive a $25 gift certificate when that organization joins.