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.

PA Chamber Ready to Hit the Ground Running as 2019-20 Legislative Session Gets Underway

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

The New Year has begun and with it, a new legislative session. On Jan. 1, the entire House and Senate took the oath of office, marking the official start of the 2019-20 legislative session. The rest of the month will be dominated by the necessary legislative housekeeping measures required to get the General Assembly up and running – committee chairs will soon be announced, followed closely by each member’s committee assignments. On Jan. 15, Gov. Tom Wolf will officially start his second term, bringing a new lieutenant governor – Lt. Gov-elect John Fetterman – onto the scene to preside over the state Senate. Before you know it, we’ll be well into February with the governor’s fifth budget address and budget hearings with the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.

For the PA Chamber and our broad-based membership, the start of a new session brings renewed opportunities to push for pro-growth public policies. We are ready to the ground running as we work with elected officials and our local chamber partners to improve the Commonwealth’s overall business climate. In December we finalized our 2019 legislative agenda, which focuses on the need for tax reform. Amazon’s recent decision to split its second headquarters between northern Virginia and New York City make now a perfect time to take a hard look at Pennsylvania’s tax structure and determine if we’re doing all we can to make the Commonwealth the most attractive option for businesses of all sizes to locate and hire.

Armed with facts in the Tax Foundation’s recent report on the Commonwealth’s business climate, the PA Chamber is making the case to lawmakers this coming session that Pennsylvania needs to implement tax reforms that will mirror reforms at the federal level. Chief among these goals is the reduction of our state’s Corporate Net Income Tax, which at 9.99 percent is among the highest effective rates in the nation and presents one of the largest hurdles for attracting new investment and creating jobs.

Additionally, we will also be focusing our efforts on workforce development in 2019. In its announcement on where it will be bringing 50,000 new jobs and $5 billion in new investment, Amazon cited workforce readiness as a major factor in its final decision on where to locate. It’s no secret that Pennsylvania struggles in this area. In fact, our 28th Annual Economic Survey showed that for the first time ever, employers listed difficulty finding qualified candidates to fill open positions as the No. 1 hurdle facing their businesses. Our organization continues the fight to close the jobs skills gap through our dynamic “Start the Conversation HERE” initiative, which provides job creators and job seekers with the information they need to get on the path to a skilled trade career. This fall, we were proud to have again teamed up with the mikeroweWORKS Foundation to distribute a second round of scholarships to students who are pursuing a skilled trade. Thanks in large part to the generosity of employers, we awarded 25 of these students more than $108,000 in financial assistance. I encourage you to check out this scholar spotlight in the latest issue of Catalyst and visit the website, StartTheConversationHere.com, to find out how you can help to be a part of the skills gap solution through a tax-deductible scholarship donation.

As we embark on 2019, we look forward to continuing our strong relationship with our local chamber partners. Working together to advance policies that will promote private sector job growth is the best way to improve economies across the Commonwealth, and boost our economic competitiveness for the benefit of every Pennsylvanian.

Member News – January 9, 2019

Member News

  • A representative from the Wilkes University Small Business Development Center will be at the Chamber office at 238 Market St., Bloomsburg, on Friday, Jan. 18, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. for its monthly small business outreach day. Any current or aspiring small business owner is welcome to stop in and speak to Ray Haden, business consultant with the Wilkes SBDC, for advice and guidance on starting or running a small business. SBDCs provide free, confidential consulting services to current and aspiring small business owners. Anyone interested in meeting with him should contact Ray at 570-408-4340 or email to schedule a time between 10-3 on Jan. 18 to meet. 


  • Geisinger HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital recently unveiled its new name and brand as part of its Company’s name change and rebranding initiative. As of Jan. 1, the inpatient rehabilitation hospital is now known as Geisinger Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital. It will continue to provide the same high-quality, post-acute care for patients overcoming a variety of major illnesses and injuries. To commemorate the new name and brand, the hospital will be hosting a open community celebration event on Thursday, Feb. 7, from 3-6 p.m. The event will be held in the hospital dining room, located at 64 Rehab Ln., Danville. Tours and photo booths will be available for event attendees, and hor d’oeuvres will be served. RSVP prior to the event to 510-271-6110 or by email. Birmingham, Ala.-based HealthSouth Corporation launched its new name and brand on Jan. 1, 2018 and has been transitioning its 130 inpatient rehabilitation hospitals and 273 home health and hospice locations serving 36 states and Puerto Rico over the last year, which will continue through 2019. All of the Company’s post-acute care service locations in Pennsylvania will migrate to the Encompass Health name and brand on Jan. 1.


  • Knoebels Amusement Resort will hold its annual job fair on Saturday, March 2, from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m., at the Elysburg Fire Department, located at 1 East Mill St., Elysburg. There are seasonal positions available in games, ride operations, food service, gift shops, grounds crew, security & first aid, admissions, crystal pool, campground, guest services, and more. If you have a particular interest or skill set, Knoebels has a job for you. Visit the Facebook event for more information. 

State Legislators Discuss Business Issues with Chamber Committee

State Senator John Gordner (center) and Representative David Millard (right) recently met with the Joint Governmental Affairs Committee.

Elected officials representing Columbia and Montour counties discussed issues of interest to the business community with members of the Chamber and Visitors Bureau recently. Senator John Gordner, Representative David Millard, and Harold Hurst with Representative Kurt Masser’s office met with the Joint Government Affairs Committee in early January. Topics included tourism funding, energy policy, group health plans, and workers comp reforms.

With forty-three new representatives and seven new senators being sworn in to office on Jan. 1, Governor Wolf will take the oath for his second term on Jan. 15. The Governor will then deliver his budget address in early February. Aiding the budget process for the coming year will be revenue collections which are currently ahead of estimates. Sales tax revenues through December were $163.2 million, or 3 percent, above estimates, and corporate tax revenues were up $294.6 million, or 21.6%, ahead of projections. Both Gordner and Millard noted the strength in the economy and sales taxes from online retailers as contributing to the positive numbers.

Capturing revenues through online lodging booking sites as well as services like Airbnb could also provide additional funding for statewide tourism promotion. Representative Millard was reappointed Chair of the House Tourism and Recreational Development Committee and spoke about the need for more funding at the state level. He did not have an estimate on how much additional revenue could be realized for marketing.

Millard also expects to co-sponsor legislation in the House to support the State’s nuclear power industry. In November, the Nuclear Energy Caucus released a report detailing the challenges of the industry in Pennsylvania, and suggesting options for keeping nuclear plants viable. Senator Gordner is co-sponsoring a Senate bill that would provide clean energy tax credits. Any legislation would need to be signed by the Governor by June to avoid the premature closure of a plant in Beaver County.   

Another topic of discussion was the Wolf Administration’s stance on association health plans. In mid-2018, a federal rule change allowed businesses to band together for the purposes of negotiating health insurance rates. This would allow the Chamber to once again offer health insurance options for small and medium-sized employers. However, Pennsylvania’s Attorney General is among twelve in the nation attempting to block the change, and the State Insurance Department is also taking a stringent stance which prevents pricing benefits from being realized. Gordner and Millard asked for more information on the issue in order to question representatives of the administration.

One action approved by the Governor in 2018 is saving businesses money. The passage and enactment of H.B. 1840, significant workers’ comp legislation, provides a fix to a state Supreme Court decision in the Protz v. Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board case, which has been financially detrimental to employers.  In 2017, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court removed Impairment Rating Evaluations from the law, which for more than 20 years has provided a structured process for state-designated physicians to determine a patient’s level of impairment and how long wage-loss benefits should be paid. As a result of the ruling, the Pennsylvania Compensation Rating Bureau took the unprecedented action of filing for a mid-year loss cost increase, which industry experts conservatively estimated was costing employers hundreds of millions of dollars each year in higher insurance costs. The PA Chamber of Business & Industry had been advocating for the fix.

Gordner, Millard, and Masser will be invited to participate in the annual state legislative breakfast briefing with the general membership in the spring.

Welcome Caz Russell LLC

More than 400 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, and the first new member of 2019, Caz Russell LLC, to help us fulfill our mission. 

Caz Russell is a business consultant specializing in leadership development training. Based in Milton, Caz is an independent John Maxwell Leadership speaker, teacher, trainer and coach. Maxwell was voted the #1 leadership and management expert in the world by Inc. Magazine. Caz offers workshops on subjects such as leadership, communication, decision making, error prevention and creating a new safety culture. A retired veteran of the electric industry, Caz’ vision is to share his experiences with others to utilize, grow and learn from. Caz can be reached at 570-809-2493, by email, or visit his website or Facebook page