PennDOT Urges Caution in Work Zones

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation(PennDOT) is urging motorists to drive safely in work zones after three separate work zone intrusions resulted in motorists hitting a PennDOT crash truck.

“Even though construction season is winding down in many places, we still have road crews out there,” said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. “Please don’t speed, never drive distracted, and always buckle up, especially in work zones.”

According to PennDOT data, in 2019 there were 1,754 work zone crashes, resulting in 16 fatalities. Since 1970, 89 PennDOT employees have died in the line of duty.

In addition to crash data from police reports, PennDOT monitors work-zone safety with internal reports. As of November 10, there have been 72 reported intrusions in PennDOT work zones. Of those work-zone intrusions, seven resulted in injures to PennDOT employees, 25 caused damage to PennDOT fleet or equipment, and 40 did not result in injury or damage but had the potential to do so.

Pennsylvania law states that anyone stopped by law enforcement for violating the posted speed limit by more than 5 mph will face doubled fines. The fine is determined based on the amount the driver is traveling over the speed limit. Governor Tom Wolf signed a law in 2016 that says any driver who causes serious bodily injury within a work zone could face up to $5,000 in fines and a six-month license suspension, and a driver causing a death within a work zone could face up to a $10,000 fine and one-year license suspension. Drivers who don’t turn on their headlights in posted work zones face a $25 fine.

Additionally, in an effort to change unsafe driving behaviors in work zones, Pennsylvania’s Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement began earlier this year. The program uses vehicle-mounted systems to detect and record motorists exceeding posted work zone speed limits by 11 miles per hour or more using electronic speed timing devices. AWZSE systems can be deployed in active work zones, where workers are present, on the turnpike as well as any active work zone on a federal aid highway – this includes higher class roadways like interstates, major arterials, and numbered routes. Registered owners will receive a warning letter for a first offense, a violation notice and $75 fine for a second offense, and a violation notice and $150 fine for third and subsequent offenses. These violations are civil penalties only; no points will be assessed to driver’s licenses.

For more information on work zone safety visit,

Marywood University Student is Selected to Join Cooper-DuBois Fellows Cohort

Marywood University senior Spanish and biology major, Krystine Jiménez, Scranton, Pa., was selected to join the next cohort of Cooper-DuBois Fellows at the Pennsylvania State University. Through this program, she will learn about Penn State’s commitment to Africana, African American, and Ethnic Studies through the historic cluster hire of 13 faculty specializing in African American life and culture, as well as its 2020 launch of the new Center for Black Digital Research.

Ms. Jiménez will also attend a variety of workshops related to new directions in the field of African American and African Diaspora literary, cultural, and rhetorical studies, and hear about opportunities for Black digital and public research. The mentorship program will also provide an opportunity to meet with faculty, area, and program heads, as well as current and former graduate students to provide support as she applies to graduate programs.

Ms. Jiménez said, “When I first decided to take Spanish classes at Marywood University, I never thought I would minor in it, let alone take on another major. In my first Afro-Latinx course, taught by Joshua Deckman, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Foreign Languages program at Marywood University, I learned more about myself and my heritage in one class than I have learned my whole life. I am Dominican. I am Dominican, and I am Black. I decided to apply to the Cooper-DuBois Fellows program to see how I can pursue a career in Black Studies to build upon what I have learned in my courses at Marywood. The knowledge that I have acquired through my Afro-Latinx courses at Marywood and what I will acquire from this fellowship program is the first step in reaching my goals.”

The world is full of languages. It’s a first step toward a wide world of career options. At Marywood, every student is able to study a modern language as part of the University’s core liberal arts curriculum. There are numerous opportunities for students to study abroad in countries throughout Europe and Latin America. Exposure to different cultures and diverse people helps prepare students for study and travel abroad and local and international internships. For additional information about Marywood University’s Communication, Language and Literature department, please visit, or call the Office of Admissions, at (570) 348-6207.

Geisinger Welcomes Internationally Renowned Physician to Lead Congenital Heart Surgery

Just days before the novel coronavirus pandemic reached Pennsylvania, Gerhard Ziemer, M.D., Ph.D., joined Geisinger as director of pediatric cardiac surgery and adult congenital heart surgery.

Certified registered nurse practitioner and Wilkes-Barre native Cherish Boehm has also signed on to help lead the program.

Dr. Ziemer is a cardiothoracic surgeon who cares for children and adults with congenital and acquired heart disease. He specializes in reconstructive heart and valve surgery and aortic surgery. In 1989, Dr. Ziemer was the first to successfully perform the Ross procedure — replacement of a damaged aortic valve with the patient’s own pulmonary valve, and replacement of the pulmonary valve with a donor valve — in a newborn.

The wide range of procedures Dr. Ziemer can provide includes complex, primary and multi-stage repair in newborns and primary and repeat surgeries in adults with congenital heart disease.

Dr. Ziemer earned his medical degree at Kiel University Medical School in Germany. He completed residencies in general surgery and cardiothoracic and vascular surgery at Hannover Medical School Hospitals in Germany. While completing a residency in congenital and cardiovascular surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital, he also served as a fellow at Harvard Medical School.

Before coming to central Pennsylvania, Dr. Ziemer held leadership positions at universities in Germany and at the University of Chicago and treated children for many years during humanitarian relief efforts in South America (Peru) and Central Asia (Kazakhstan).

Dr. Ziemer served on the founding governing council of the World Society for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Surgery, the scientific board of the German Pediatric Heart Center Foundation, and as the founder and first president of the European Congenital Heart Surgeons’ Association. He also served as an examiner for cardiac surgery for the European Board of Thoracic Cardiovascular Surgeons from 2005 to 2017.

He speaks English, German and Spanish.

Originally from Wilkes-Barre, Cherish Boehm honed her skills as a traveling nurse in California, namely Modesto and Los Angeles, and Hawaii. While practicing in Los Angeles, she worked at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Following her most recent certification, Ms. Boehm has returned to her home state to work alongside Dr. Ziemer and the rest of the congenital heart team at Geisinger.

Ballet Theatre of Scranton to Perform The Nutcracker

Ballet Theatre of Scranton, under the artistic direction of Joanne Arduino, will present their 45th annual performances of The Nutcracker quite differently this season, but the tradition of their gift to the community will continue!  In partnership with Goodwill’s Theater at North and sponsored by the Charles DeNaples family, the production will be presented at the Circle Drive In on November 20 and 21 at 5 and 8 p.m. Admission is free and the first 300 cars will be admitted. Kick off the holiday season and enjoy the comfort of your own car as you and your family view visions of sugarplums on the big screen! 

Additionally, on Dec 23-26, FOX 56 will present the production on their stations WOLF, WSWB and WQMY. Check local listings for air times.

Celebrate the season with Ballet Theatre of Scranton’s many presentations of The Nutcracker! For additional information, call Ballet Theatre of Scranton at 570-347-2867 or visit us on the web at

Scranton Tomorrow Presents “Shop Your Way”

Shop Your Way. In Store, Curbside Pick-Up, Delivery, By Appointment, Online, or Purchase a Gift Certificate. Every shopping style will be accommodated this holiday season as business owners offer multiple shopping options.

Shop Your Way kicks off this weekend, November 13,14, and 15 with special incentives from more than 30 downtown businesses. It’s never been easier to support local! Click Here for a list of participating businesses.

PennDOT Announces Two Virtual Public Meetings to Review Draft Pennsylvania State Rail Plan

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) invites rail stakeholders and the public to provide input on the draft Pennsylvania State Rail Plan during two virtual public meetings on November 16 and 17.

Through this plan, the commonwealth will identify a clear vision for the future of rail transportation, set goals and objectives for achieving that vision, and document and evaluate passenger and freight rail needs over the course of the next 25 years to guide investments.

“Freight and passenger rail are vibrant components of our state’s transportation network,” said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. “We invite residents and stakeholders to help us shape the plan by taking part in the virtual meetings.”

As part of this effort, virtual public meetings will be held on November 16 from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM and on November 17 from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM.

To register, visit the Pennsylvania State Rail Plan website. Interested individuals will be able to view and comment on the draft plan through December 2. 

The State Rail Plan is updated every four years to meet Federal Railroad Administration requirements, and the draft was created over the last year with stakeholder input through various outreach efforts.

In accordance with Governor Tom Wolf’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts, the meeting will be held online only. Those unable to access the meeting or comment form, need translation/interpretation services, or have special needs that require individual attention, contact Angela Watson, PennDOT project manager, at or 717-705-1318.

Pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, PennDOT does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, age, or disability. If you feel that you have been denied the benefits of, or participation in a PennDOT program or activity, you may contact the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Bureau of Equal Opportunity, DBE/Title VI Division at 717-787-5891 or 800-468-4201.

For additional information, visit or follow PennDOT on Facebook or Twitter

Geisinger Researchers Find Communication Key in Diabetes Management Programs

Communicating personal risk for developing type 2 diabetes and then offering a choice of risk reduction and management programs resulted in higher than expected enrollment and improved outcomes, a team of Geisinger researchers found.

A relatively low number of people who are at risk for type 2 diabetes are aware of their personal risk and of what steps they can take to reduce or manage their risk. These risk factors include overweight or obesity, age, an unhealthy diet or exercise routine, and family history.

In their study, the research team sent letters to 328 patients at three Geisinger primary care sites communicating their personal risk of progression to diabetes within three years. The letters also included the patient’s estimated risk reduction with a 5, 10 or 15 percent weight loss, and offered a choice of five free, 6-month risk management programs.

The recruitment response rate for the risk management programs was just over 25 percent, which was significantly greater than expected, the research team found. After six months, body mass index (BMI), hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C), and diabetes risk had improved in all patients, and both BMI and HbA1C had sustained improvement after 12 months.

The findings were published in the October 12 issue of Patient Education and Counseling.

“Many people with risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes are unaware of their risk and of the steps they can take to reduce their risk,” said Lisa Bailey-Davis, Ph.D., associate professor for Geisinger’s Obesity Institute and the study’s lead author. “We were pleased to discover that clear and direct communication of personal risk and offering a choice of risk management programs led to significant engagement and better health outcomes.”

Geisinger offers a Diabetes Risk Calculator through the MyGeisinger patient portal, allowing patients to learn about their personal risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Geisinger primary care providers can see their patients’ personal risk scores and can refer interested patients to risk management programs like the Geisinger Wellness Diabetes Prevention Program, a registered dietitian, or a weight management specialist.

For more information about diabetes and resources available at Geisinger, visit