Member News – May 1, 2019

  • Bloomsburg University’s IT Outreach Webinar Series has a pair of upcoming webinars on IT-related issues scheduled in the coming weeks. On Wednesday, May 1, at 1 p.m., Jim Walker, chief security officer at Syntervision Inc. will present “The Real Cyber Threats a Big OS Vendor Won’t Tell You.” Then, on Wednesday, May 22, at noon, Ronald Fussell, program manager at Zel Technologies, LLC, will present “Software Systems Design Considerations. BU’s IT Outreach Webinar Series engages its local constituents in a purposeful manner about the trending topics in the IT field. Webinars are approximately 30 minutes in length. There is no cost to participate, however participants must register. For more information on these webinars or the series, visit BU’s dedicated website page



  • The Northern Tier Partners for the Arts, a partner of the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts, will provide a free workshop on Wednesday, May 15, at the Bloomsburg Public Library, from 2-3 p.m., on grant writing for arts programming. This workshop will educate attendees on grant guidelines, application processes and criteria. For additional information, call 570-268-2787 or email


  • Lightstreet Rd. will be closed and a detour will be in place running through Wednesday, May 15 for construction of the new pedestrian bridge. The Bloomsburg University campus and surrounding local roads will still be accessible, and crews will be working seven days a week to keep the closure and detour as short as possible. The formal detour will go down East Street, U.S. Route 11 and up Central Road. 


  • BIDA, Luzerne County Community College and the other tenants in the Eagles Building, located at 107 South Market St., Berwick, will host an open house on Wednesday, May 22 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the building. There will be information regarding each of the organizations that have their offices in the building, including the dental clinic and VA Services. There will also be light refreshments and tours of the facility as well as the additional spaces that are currently available in the building. Employers, the general public and anyone interested in seeing available office space are welcome to stop by. 


  • UGI Utilities, Inc (UGI), provider of natural gas and electric services throughout northeastern U.S. is giving back to the community by investing in regional economic growth with an investment of $3,000 to Focus Central Pennsylvania. A check was presented by UGI representative Don Brominski, Business Development Director to Focus Central Pennsylvania’s Executive Director, Lauren Bryson. Brominski, said “investing in Focus fits in very well with our goal to be involved in the betterment of the communities we service.” Focus Central Pennsylvania is part of a committed team in the region that is driving smart economic growth for communities in Centre, Columbia, Montour, Northumberland, Union, Snyder and Mifflin County communities.  


  • Service 1st Federal Credit Union held its Annual Meeting on April 17 and honored a number of volunteers and employees for their years of service, as well as announced newly elected board members. 

    During Service 1st’s Annual Meeting, service awards were presented to the following volunteers: Steven Endress, Deborah Petretich Templeton, R. Ph. MHA, and David Cutright.
    (L-R): Steven Endress, Deborah Petretich Templeton, R. Ph. MHA, and Bill Lavage, President/CEO, Service 1st. Absent from photo: David Cutright.

    Greg Burke, MD, FACP; Barbara Criswell, and Steven Endress were re-elected; each to 3-year terms on the Service 1st Board of Directors. During the Reorganizational Meeting of Service 1st’s Board of Directors, the following officers were elected to serve for the next 12-month period: Steven Endress, Chairperson; Tracy Shirk, Vice Chairperson; David Cutright, Treasurer; and Deborah Petretich Templeton, R. Ph. MHA, Secretary. Other Service 1st Board members include: Harold Hurst, Kathy Linn, and Lori Wilson.

    The evening included a special presentation by Devon Donahue, Member Service Representative at Service 1st’s Montandon Office. Donahue will represent the Northwest Susquehanna Chapter of Credit Unions at the 2019 Credit Union Ambassador Contest being held in May during the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association’s annual conference in Hershey, PA.

    Service 1st also honored employees for their years of service. (L-R): Front row: Tiffany Elder, Missy Peifer, Sharon Carter, Tammy Lytle, Shawn Hays. Middle row: Sharon Cope-Lee, George Hunt, Joanne Cowden, Dawn Gilliland. Back row: Dedra Celona, Scott Temple, Jay Reed. Absent from photo: Nicole Hoyes and Alison Luzenski.

    Service awards were presented to volunteers and employees. Volunteers honored included Deborah Petretich Templeton, R. Ph. MHA, Secretary, Service 1st Board of Directors, 15 years; Steven Endress, Chairperson, Service 1st Board of Directors, 20 years; and David Cutright, Treasurer, Service 1st Board of Directors, 25 years. Employees honored for 5 years of service: Dedra Celona, Lending Supervisor; Tiffany Elder, FSS Universal Agent; Dawn Gilliland, Assistant Market Manager Wilkes-Barre; George Hunt, Facilities and Maintenance Specialist; and Alison Luzenski, Member Service Specialist. Employees honored for 10 years of services included: Shawn Hays, Financial Service Coordinator/rMSR; Tammy Lytle, Loan Support Specialist; Jay Reed, Chief Information Officer; and Valerie Carper, IS Support & Security Analyst. Employees honored for 15 years of service included: Sharon Carter, Loan Support Specialist; Joanne Cowden, Member Service Representative; Nicole Hoyes, Centralized Lending Coordinator; and Missy Peifer, Vice President Human Resources. Employees honored for 20 years of service included: Scott Temple, Vice President Specialized Lending; and Chad Dietterick, Information Systems Team Lead. Accounting Specialist Sharon Cope-Lee was also honored for 35 years of service. Dedra Celona, Lending Supervisor; Tiffany Elder, FSS Universal Agent; Dawn Gilliland, Assistant Market Manager Wilkes-Barre; George Hunt, Facilities and Maintenance Specialist; and Alison Luzenski, Member Service Specialist

Early Child Development Matters

Ronn Cort

Providing children the best opportunity for healthy development and success as adults requires a deliberate balance between structured activity and play. Family and trained professionals play important roles in a child’s development. Leaders in business and child care advocacy spoke about the importance of nurturing young people at the recent Columbia Montour Early Child Care Summit.

The event, held April 24 at Rolling Pines Golf Course and Banquet Facility, was organized by the Columbia Montour Early Learning Investment Committee to highlight the short and long-term benefits of quality early child care. The recently-formed Committee is comprised of representatives of member businesses, child care providers and advocates, the United Way of Columbia and Montour County, and the Chamber. Diana Verbeck, executive director of Danville Child Development Center and former Chamber Board member, is chairing the committee.

Gene Barr

Guest speakers at the Summit included Roberta Schomburg, PhD., executive director of the Fred Rogers Center, Gene Barr, president of the PA Chamber of Business & Industry and member of the PA Early Learning Commission, and Ronn Cort, COO & president of SEKISUI SPI. M. Holly Morrison, D.Ed., president and CEO of the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation and Chamber board member, emceed the event and reinforced the messages of the speakers with anecdotes from her 30-year career in education.

Dr. Schomburg provided a foundation for the discussion by speaking about the importance of positive family and interpersonal relationships, outlining the principles of learning readiness, and highlighting the role of educators in recognizing the development level of each child. Healthy development includes balances between structured activities and play, as well as between group activity and solitude. Children should have ample opportunities to explore and be creative. 

Creativity, critical thinking, and healthy interaction skills carry forward for success in the workplace. Barr and Cort reinforced that these qualities in people cannot be replaced by automation or artificial intelligence. Research also shows that exposing children, particularly females, to STEM fields is critical to developing interest.

Roberta Schomburg

“Early learning is a workforce issue, and workforce is the number one issue of members of the PA Chamber,” Barr said. Workforce is also the number one issue of members of the Columbia Montour Chamber. Pennsylvania needs to better align its funding priorities to invest in early learning and education, according to Barr. He was recently appointed co-chair of the Keystone Economic Development and Workforce Command Center by Governor Wolf to assess the educational and workforce development infrastructure.  

SEKISUI is taking matters into their own hands by building a 24/7 child care facility at the South Campus in Scott Township, Columbia County.

Cort stressed that the millions of dollars in new investment in the company’s local facilities and significant increase in productivity in recent years is a direct result of their people. The investment in a child care facility will support their working families now and help foster the future workforce for generations, according to Cort.

Following the Summit, the Committee is finalizing a survey for employers to distribute to their employees with child care needs. The results of the survey will help guide the work of the Committee to improve quality child care resources in Columbia and Montour counties.

The evening prior to the event, the movie Won’t You Be My Neighbor was shown at the Berwick Theatre. The documentary explores the decades of work of television personality Fred Rogers, who was driven to instill a sense of self-worth in children and encourage understanding. The Fred Rogers Center was established in Latrobe, Pa. in 2003, the year of Rogers’ death, to carry his legacy forward. Information about the Center is available at

Both events were sponsored by The Berwick Health and Wellness Fund, the United Way of Columbia and Montour County, and the Pennsylvania Early Learning Investment Commission.

Welcome Northeast Pennsylvania Business Center

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, Northeast Pennsylvania Business Center, to help us fulfill our mission.

Northeast Pennsylvania Business Center (NPBC) is a new business founded last year that is owned by Marr Development. It provides full service business solutions primarily for small businesses to help them begin and grow. These business solutions include accounting, bookkeeping, payroll, human resources, management consulting, web design, information technology, marketing and advertising. Located at 825 Central Rd., Suite 1 in Bloomsburg, NPBC can be reached at 570-245-6377, by email or visit its website or Facebook page.

Taking Your Benefits Plan for a ‘Test Drive’

From ChamberChoice and Smart Business Pittsburgh

Considering changes to your employee benefits plan can be a perplexing process. And the risk associated with making any plan modification is heightened when the supporting data are not available.

In today’s health care environment, however, plan design adjustments need to be considered far more frequently due to the pressures of managing costs.

“Providing a comprehensive benefits package is a vital component to attracting and retaining employees. Employers need to carefully consider how changes to the benefits plan design can affect their current and future workforce,” says Aaron Ochs, managing consultant at JRG Advisors. “When considering plan changes, partner with an experienced benefits professional who can utilize plan modeling to determine your best benefits strategy.”

Smart Business spoke with Ochs about how plan modeling helps employers to identify the best use of resources and to engage in experimentation without taking on risks.

What is plan modeling?

Plan modeling makes it possible to create scenarios that consider how medical claims would be paid given various plan design modifications. The analysis also identifies problem areas within the plan. With the results of the professional analysis, employers can consider the realistic solutions that are aligned with their coverage and cost objectives.

For instance, if emergency room costs were disproportionately high, an employer could consider raising the emergency room co-pay, while educating employees about 24/7 telemedicine and urgent care facilities. This would create a lower out-of-pocket cost for these more convenient options to the expensive ER visit.

Even if an employer is just thinking about making plan design adjustments because it suspects it would drive better claims results, the use of modeling can help the employer test-drive those changes before implementing them. The results of the modeling will help an employer see the outcome of suggested changes to its current benefit structure, before actual implementation.

How specifically might the plan benefit from modeling?

Plan modeling gives employers the ability to see the likely impact of plan changes beforehand.

With access to the data provided by plan modeling, employers can identify the strategies that fit the employee population coverage needs and the company goals. Employers mitigate the risk of a benefits design misstep like implementing drastic changes to popular — and necessary — benefits offerings.

With these data points, an employer can make educated, strategic decisions that balance the financial benefit with employees’ coverage and access needs. Some models even illustrate how many employees will be affected by each change, allowing employers to truly balance value and cost.

What are the popular plan changes?

Some of the more popular plan modifications include adjustments to deductibles and co-insurance, office visit versus specialist co-pay, urgent care versus emergency room co-pay, tiered rates for prescription drugs and Health Savings Account plans.

Identifying and managing even just a fraction of costs can generate significant savings year-over-year. That is because the smallest percentages of identified high-spending areas represent the most promising potential for savings. And, the more models employers run, the more likely they will find hidden ways to curb benefits costs.

In a burgeoning area where employers are trying to manage expenses, plan modeling is essential. With this approach, employers can consider changes without having to wait until after implementation to measure success.

Insights Employee Benefits is brought to you by JRG Advisors

Pennsylvania Named #1 Beer Producer in the U.S.

From Brewers Association

We interrupt our normally scheduled email routine to bring you some very exciting news. The Brewers Association recently released state wide beer statistics for 2018….and Pennsylvania did it again.

Congratulations to all of you Pennsylvania beer drinkers out there. Because of your tireless dedication to PA craft beer, our state has been named the number one beer producer in the country (again)! See all of the statistics.

According to a study by the Brewers Association, Pennsylvania ranks number 1 in the U.S for barrels of beer produced at 3,719,475 million. The next highest state is California at 3,421,295 million. To put that into perspective, that means CA is producing 1 barrel of beer for every 11.5 people in the state, whereas PA is producing 1 barrel for every 3.4 people in the state!

That’s not the only area that PA ranks in the top part of the country. In fact in most major categories the state ranks no lower than #6. Pennsylvania is #2 in economic impact, #4 in gallons produced per 21+ year old adult, #4 in impact per capita and #6 in Craft Breweries per state (however that last number is always rising as more open!)

Congratulations Pennsylvania beer drinkers. We have a lot of work to do to keep this trend going in 2019. So reward yourself with a delicious craft beer at your favorite brewery!

Numbers such as these are a big reason why the Columbia Montour Chamber recently called for fairness in the assessment of a craft brewery sales tax. If the tax is allowed to go into effect on July 1 as currently written in the regulation, it will adversely affect craft brewers that also have tasting rooms and/or restaurants as part of their brewing operations, including Chamber members Berwick Brewing, Marley’s Brewery and Grille, Rock God Brewing, and Turkey Hill Brewing.