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.

Member News – August 16, 2017

Member News

  • The Bucknell Small Business Development Center will host its next First Step Workshop tomorrow, Aug. 17, from 1-3 p.m. at its office inside the DeWitt Building (3rd floor), located at 416 Market St., Lewisburg. This workshop is intended for people that have considered and would like to start their own business but may have numerous questions, such as what types of forms and licenses that are needed, where to find financing, how to prepare a business plan and where to open. The first step to starting a successful new venture is to attend an SBDC First Step Workshop. Cost is $25. Register online or by calling Shelley Gadoury at 570-577-1249. 


  • Montour County Children and Youth Services will host a free training for individuals who are mandated by law to report suspected child abuse tomorrow, Aug. 17, from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. The training program is put together by the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance. Though this training is free, pre-registration is required. For more information or to register, fill out this form on the PFSA website. Those registering will receive an email once their registration has been processed, which will include the address for the training location. 


  • Help the crew at Wild For Salmon celebrate the return of its fishing team from its record-breaking season in Bristol Bay, Alaska as it hosts its annual Fishtival on Saturday, Aug. 19, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. outside its Bloomsburg store at 521 Montour Blvd. (Rt. 11). Owner Steve Kurian and his crew caught over 100,000 pounds of wild salmon during this year’s fishing season, and with harvest numbers so high, they want to share some with the public. There will be free samples of salmon cooked by Chef Josh and the Wild For Salmon crew, and several other visitors will be on hand to free tastings, including beer and wine samples from fellow Chamber members Turkey Hill Brewing and Freas Farm Winery. There will also be an educational booth this year discussing the importance of preserving the lifeblood of the business, Bristol Bay.


  • The Columbia County Traveling Library will host a New Bookmobile Celebration Picnic & Summer Reading Wrap Party this Saturday, Aug. 19, from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. in the parking lot and lawn outside its offices at 702 Sawmill Rd., Bloomsburg. In case of rain, it will be moved indoors to the conference room by the library. The event will feature free hot dogs, hamburgers and other picnic food courtesy of the Friends of the Library, a petting zoo with animals, a bouncy slide, a performance by Beatrix Potter, police officer storytime, the Art Cart from The Exchange, and much more. There is no cost to attend, and all kids who participated in summer reading will be able to select their prize books. Every child that attends will receive a prize. 


  • Zydeco music innovator Corey Ledet and his band will kick off the Weis Center for the Performing Arts’ 30th anniversary season on Friday, Aug. 25, at 6 p.m. on the Weis Center Plaza.

    Zydeco musician Corey Ledet

    This family-friendly performance is free and tickets are not required. The rain location is the Weis Center Atrium Lobby. Patrons are encouraged to bring a lawn chair, blanket and picnic. A free pre-performance lecture and demonstration with the artist will take place the same day at noon in the Atrium Lobby. 


  • Co., a social and professional networking group that is run by the United Way of Columbia and Montour County, will hold its fall kickoff event on Wednesday, Aug. 30, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Farmhouse at Turkey Hill’s Greenhouse. Co. was founded to give area residents the opportunity to take advantage of all the great things this area has to offer. This group is for everyone, which means any age, ability, or area of residence. It holds multiple events each month. For more information about Co., including future events, visit its Facebook page


  • PA Careerlink will hold a free seminar on unemployment compensation titled Unemployment Compensation 101 on Wednesday, Aug. 30, from 9:30-11:30 a.m. at the PA CareerLink Columbia/Montour Counties, located at 415 Central Rd., Bloomsburg. To register, call Donna Eyerly at 570-387-6288 or email. The seminar will guide employers through the process of the opening of a UC claim through the PA Department of Labor & Industry’s UC Service Center by an employee who has been separated from employment, permanently or temporarily, or is working less than the employer’s established full-time work week. Important points that will be explained include:
    • What forms will the employer receive when a UC claim is open or reopened and how will the information requested be used to determine the claimant’s eligibility and protect the employer’s UC liability?
    • What steps are taken by the UC Service Center to determine a claimant’s eligibility for UC benefits?
    • What issues does the UC Service Center consider in determining a claimant’s eligibility?
    • The employer’s right to appeal a determination issued by the UC Service Center
    • Any addition forms that employer may receive related to the unemployment compensation


  • Members of the Danville Child Development Center’s Early Intervention team recently presented to Geisinger’s Reichart Road Pediatricians about the services DCDC provides children ages birth to three. DCDC’s EI team discussed the process of referring children to early intervention and how DCDC’s home-visiting model works to provide therapies to children with developmental delays or special needs. DCDC still has room for interested volunteers to get involved. Guest readers are always welcome in its classrooms. Email Michele Jenkins if interested and to set it up. Misc. projects are often facilitated by volunteers and can always use a helping hand. Contact Steve Bevans for such opportunities. There are also some vacancies on the DCDC board. Email Diana Verbeck if interested and for how to apply.


  • From the Bucknell Small Business Development Center: Students enrolled in a Markets, Innovation and Design course this fall at Bucknell University are offering to design websites free of charge for local businesses and organizations during the fall semester. The web design project will provide a hands-on learning experience for the students while benefiting local organizations. Recent examples of their work include Amami, West Branch Brewery and Beer Barn. If your business or organization would like to be considered for a free website design or redesign this fall, fill out an application to be considered. The application deadline Thursday, Aug. 31


  • SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG) has earned two 2017 Innovation awards from the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) Research Foundation. Each year, the Innovation Awards program honors NADO members for their creative approaches to advancing regional community and economic development and improved quality of life. These projects have made significant impacts on their regions and demonstrate the diversity of services and program delivery provided by regional development organizations across the country. The 2017 award recipients consists of 80 projects spanning 21 states.SEDA-COG’s awarded areas are for economic development in a coal-impacted region and flood mitigation and resiliency planning. SEDA-COG coordinated the project that now provides flood protection for Autoneum and the former Windsor Foods facility in Bloomsburg. 

Philadelphia Federal Credit Union Cuts Ribbon on New Bloomsburg Branch

Last Thursday, Aug. 10, representatives from the Columbia Montour Chamber joined with representatives from Philadelphia Federal Credit Union to cut the ribbon on PFCU’s new Bloomsburg branch, located at 1615 Columbia Blvd. (Rt. 11) in the new Route 11 Marketplace. The new branch replaced PFCU’s previous longtime location next to Renco Ace Hardware a little further up Route 11. 

Before the ribbon cutting, representatives from both the Chamber and PFCU made brief remarks focusing on PFCU’s commitment to the local community and the significance of this new facility to that commitment. That was then followed by three hours of a well-attended public open house that featured giveaways and food. 

(L-R): Jim Moore, PFCU regional branch manager; Colleen DiPietro, PFCU Bloomsburg branch manager; Bernard Lester, PFCU board chair; Matt Beltz, Columbia Montour Chamber director of marketing & communications; Anna Bailey, PFCU vice president of member services; Fred Gaffney, Columbia Montour Chamber president; Karen Wood, Columbia Montour Chamber board vice chair.

Summer Town/Gown Report Contains Assessment of 2017 Block Party

The Bloomsburg Town/Gown Relations Committee presented its 2017 summer report at the Bloomsburg Town Council meeting on Monday evening, Aug. 14, and it contained an assessment of the 2017 “Block Party.” Regarding Block Party, the committee made the following comments:

This year’s annual “Block Party” event took place over the weekend of Saturday, April 21, 2017. Occurring at various off-campus properties, Bloomsburg University and the Town of Bloomsburg share concerns regarding safety, the large number of attendees, the number of out-of-town individuals participating in the event, and the reflection it has on both the university and the community at large.

The Town/Gown Relations Committee spearheaded two new initiatives during this year’s event: on-campus parking restrictions and university residence hall visitation restrictions. These initiatives were aimed at curbing the number of individuals attending the event who are not affiliated with either the town or the university. A joint town/university press release was written and distributed on March 22, 2017 detailing these restrictions as well as other general safety reminders ahead of the event.

Both the on-campus parking restrictions and university residence hall visitation restrictions were successful and resulted in an event that was more controlled, attracted far fewer visitors to campus, and yielded less citations. The committee recognizes that more work remains and intends to continue assessing new ideas, deepening our partnership with students, and building on this year’s progress.

The Affordable Care Act, Law of the Land – Still

From ChamberChoice

In the early morning hours of July 28, 2017 the Affordable Care Act withstood another effort by the Republicans to repeal and replace it. Opposition to the “Skinny Bill” won during the most recent Senate action, and so, repeal and replace appears to come to a halt. The bill was referred to as “skinny” as it would have eliminated the individual mandate penalty and temporarily repealed the employer mandate penalty and medical device tax.

So, the question now becomes, what next? Below are some of the issues that our lawmakers will be taking into consideration:

• Take steps to ensure the stability of the individual insurance market; or
• Pursue strategies that will quicken the demise of the ACA (such as destabilizing the insurance market;
• Stop payment of the Cost Sharing Reduction (these are funds the government provides to insurers to help cover out-of-pocket expenses for low income individuals);
• Further advocate “State Innovation Waivers” which allows states to implement their own innovative ways to provide quality, comprehensive and affordable health while maintaining basic protections under the ACA; or
• Enforcement of both the individual and employer mandate penalties through a separate Executive Order overriding the Order issued on January 20th suspending ACA-implementation.

Although it appears that the Affordable Care Act is in a state of flux, for employers it could not be further from the truth. The ACA remains the “law of the land”, employers need to stay the course with their ACA compliance priorities until further notice. The employer mandate requires “applicable large employers” (ALEs) to offer minimum essential coverage that is minimum value and affordable to 95 percent of its full-time employees and their dependents. Failure to offer such coverage can result in penalties. The associated ACA reporting requirements are also still effective, ALEs who failed to provide Form1095-C to its full-time employees, or Form 1094-C to the IRS should discuss this issue with their legal counsel. The penalty for failing to issue a 1095-C is the same as failure to provide a W-2; $250 per failure in 2016 and $260 per failure in 2017. However, there is another jolt to this point, since the 1095-C is required to be provided to the employee and to the IRS, those penalty amounts would be doubled. An employer’s determination of being an ALE is based on having an average of 50 full-time/full-time equivalent employees in the preceding calendar year. 

As to what will happen in the future as to any repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act remains to be seen. However, unless and until official guidance to the contrary is provided, ongoing compliance with the law is required.