Member News – June 22, 2022

Montour Preserve 50th Anniversary Celebrated

The Montour Area Recreation Commission (MARC) celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Montour Preserve on Sunday, June 19th with a cookout, family activities, a short program, and music from Van Wagner. The Preserve was developed in conjunction with PPL’s construction of the Montour power plant. As part of the program, MARC Executive Director Bob Stoudt recognized retirees from PPL Montour, as well as MARC staff.

MARC took over management of the Preserve in 2015 through a $1/year lease agreement with Talen Energy, after PPL sold its generation facilities. Stoudt thanked Talen Energy as well as the Montour County Commissioners, Senator John Gordner, and Representative Linda Schlegel-Culver, for their support for ongoing Preserve operations and maintenance. Talen is currently in the process of converting the power plant to natural gas fired, which will help ensure the maintenance of the Preserve.

Berwick Health and Wellness Awards the Bloomsburg Children’s Museum Funds for STEM Programs

The Community Giving Foundation’s Berwick Health and Wellness Fund recently awarded the Bloomsburg Children’s Museum $13,500 to run STEM programming in the fund’s service area. 

As stated on their website, the Berwick Health and Wellness Fund is the largest charitable fund of the Community Giving Foundation. Its mission is to select, identify, and invest in programs and projects that improve the health and welfare of Berwick and the surrounding area—impacting the community’s overall well-being, growth, and success.

“The Bloomsburg Children’s Museum is proud to serve children, not only in Bloomsburg but all throughout Columbia and Luzerne county by providing mobile programs,” Dr. Ginny Weibel, Museum Director said. “We are very grateful to the Board of the Berwick Health and Wellness Fund for recognizing the positive impact our programs have on our community. This grant allows us to continue to run free STEM programs with partner organizations in Berwick and Benton and seek new partners in the fund’s target communities.”  

The Museum has previously offered classes such as Intro to 3D Printing at the For the Cause Berwick Teen Center, Simple Circuits at Benton Middle School, digital animation, and digital arts programs at the N4Cs Center, and provided take-away STEM kits to the McBride Library.

Come Help AGAPE Celebrate w/ Open House This Saturday

Guests will be able to tour the building and fellowship at their own leisure. The open house will be from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. at 851 Railroad Street in Bloomsburg. Click here to register.

“It is our great pleasure to invite you to this open house to demonstrate how God has showered his blessings upon the AGAPE ministry and his guidance and direction about how we can continue to improve our service to the brothers and sisters of our community. Please come as you are and bring a friend.” said AGAPE in an official statement.

Chamber Celebrates Summerhill Financial Coaching w/ Ribbon-Cutting

On Tuesday evening, The Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce was proud to hold a ribbon-cutting in Berwick for Summerhill Financial Coaching — Janet Hunsinger. Hunsinger is a certified financial coach with Ramsey Solutions. “There are so many people out in the community that need help,” said Hunsinger. “This drastically changed our lives. I went through training at Ramsey Solutions and became a coach. I went to the Master’s training program and the boot camp. It’s so rewarding and life-changing.”

The Chamber and Janet’s family were joined by Tim Burke, Berwick’s Mayor, Dave Kovach, Columbia County Commissioner, Jeff Cerminaro of Walker’s Jewelers, and Michelle Boone of Press Enterprise.

Janet and Summerhill Financial Coaching provides one-on-one guidance for cash flow planning, paying off debt, buying a home or car, college planning, building wealth, charitable giving, and saving for retirement.

Dividend Declared for the ChamberChoice Business Insurance Program

Chambers of Commerce Service Corporation (CCSC) is pleased to announce that Penn National Insurance has declared a 5% dividend for the ChamberChoice Business Insurance program. Members, who placed their insurance coverage with Penn National Insurance during the 2020/2021program year and remained active chamber members and policyholders through the end of the program year, will receive a dividend check during the month of June. This year’s dividend totaled over $1.16 million. Over the past 10 years, Penn National Insurance has returned an average of 6%in dividends each year, and an aggregate total of $12.2 million to the business community.

The ChamberChoice Business Insurance program is just one of many benefits that CCSC offers its member chambers. The partnership between Penn National Insurance and CCSC was designed to provide a value-added membership benefit that would help Chambers attract and retain members.

An important aspect of this group insurance program is preventing loss and controlling claims costs. Because dividends are based on the group’s collective loss experience, a business that may have had a significant loss may still be eligible to receive a dividend.

The program is sold exclusively through local, independent agents who can offer chamber members a variety of coverages and pricing on property and casualty insurance, including business owners, commercial auto, property, general liability, inland marine and workers’ compensation. Dividends are paid on all of these coverages. In addition, through safety consulting, Penn National Insurance and local independent insurance agencies encourage member businesses to develop safety practices to substantially reduce or eliminate workplace injuries.

Contact the Chamber for a list of members that represent Penn National to learn if you can save through this program. 

State Legislative Leaders Optimistic for On-Time Budget

With Pennsylvania’s June 30th budget deadline just over a week away, leaders in the Senate and House are attempting to come to an agreement with the Wolf administration on a fiscally responsible budget. For the first time since 2001, discussions to not have to include borrowing, tax increases, or delayed payments. Senator John Gordner, Representative David Millard, and Alex Halper with the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry provided an overview of this year’s discussions at The Chamber’s Spring Legislative Breakfast held June 16th at the Pine Barn Inn.

Halper began with an overview of Pennsylvania’s fiscal position. Tax revenues for the current fiscal year are $5.5 billion ahead of projections. Additionally, $2.6 billion in American Rescue Plan funds remains unallocated. The state’s Rainy Day Fund, which can be tapped during revenue shortfalls, is at $2.7 billion, up from just $100 million a couple of years ago. Senator Gordner expects a portion of the surplus funds to be added to the Fund.

Legislative leaders are cautious not to use these unanticipated funds for ongoing costs. The Independent Fiscal Office is already projecting a budget deficit for the 2023-24 fiscal year. Senator Gordner also noted that following the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, many school districts used stimulus money to plug holes in their budgets. The next year, $1 billion was no longer available statewide.

Instead, Gordner anticipates some of the excess funds will be used for one-time investments, including paying down the $200 million owed to the Federal government for unemployment compensation, which will avoid increases for employers. Other potential uses of funds include bonuses for front line staff at nursing home and long term care facilities, child care incentives, investments in mental health, including school issues, and the property tax and rent rebate program. Gordner is the prime Senate sponsor of Growing Greener 3, which would make investments in state parks and forests, clean water efforts, and water and sewer projects. Representative Linda Schlegel-Culver, who will represent Montour County as part of the 108th District beginning next year, is the prime sponsor of the legislation in the House. Representative Millard has sponsored legislation to allocate $3 billion to establish a Rebuild Pennsylvania Fund for one-time projects.

The top priority for the PA Chamber in this year’s budget is reducing the state’s Corporate Net Income tax rate from 9.99%, which is the second highest in the nation. Senator Gordner expects that the budget agreement will include a revision to the tax code to reduce that rate. Other priorities for the PA Chamber are allowing small businesses to defer personal income tax liabilities through like-kind exchanges of certain property, and reforming the Unemployment Compensation system to reduce fraud and abuse.  

While Governor Wolf has called for an increase in the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour each year that he’s been in office, Gordner and Millard were confident that the final budget deal would not include an increase. Both cited market conditions that have led to increased starting wages including many unfilled positions at the $15 mark. Halper pointed out that another way the governor is attempting to increase wages specifically for hospitality workers is through an increase in the tipped wage, though that also appears to be off the table.

Senate and House Republican leaders, who are in the majority, are in agreement on a budget framework, according to Senator Gordner. “We are optimistic that between now and June 30th, we will get it done,” said Gordner. “If we do not get it done with the governor, I can assure you that the House and Senate will pass a fiscally prudent, fiscally responsible budget.”

While not part of the budget discussions, Senator Gordner has been outspoken on PennDOT’s plan to begin tolling nine interstate bridges beginning next year, including the I-80 bridges over Nescopeck Creek in lower Luzerne County. At the breakfast, he noted that the plan was introduced prior to the passage of the federal infrastructure bill in late 2021. As part of that package, Pennsylvania will receive over $3 billion for roads and bridges over 5 years. He joins other legislators and the No P3 Bridge Tolling Coalition in calling on PennDOT and the Wolf Administration to abandon the bridge tolling plan based on this additional funding.

The event was sponsored by Montour Solar One, the proposed solar facility in northern Montour County. The partnership between Talen Energy and Pattern Energy recently withdrew its application for a conditional use permit to clarify a number of details, and expects to resubmit it soon. “We intend to be a good neighbor, and an active part of the community for decades to come,” said Dave D’Onofrio, community liaison for the project.

Increase Your Business Exposure in Summer Edition of Business Matters

The next edition of the Business Matters tab, the Chamber’s quarterly publication with the Press Enterprise, will be published on Wednesday, July 13th. This edition helps to keep the public up-to-date on Chamber news and business happenings in the community. Business Matters gets sent to over 21,000 readers of the Press Enterprise. Members can place ads in the publication to increase their exposure. The advertising deadline is Wednesday, July 6th.

For more information or to become a part of this special publication, call Taryn Crayton at 570-317-5157 or Michelle Boone at 570-441-2771