‘For Those Who Served’ Package of Bills Gains Traction in the House, Aims to Assist Veterans

Rep. Karen Boback (R-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Wyoming), majority chairman of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, joined by members of the committee and other House members, along with Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin), stand in support of the ‘For Those Who Served’ package of bills aimed at assisting veterans and their families.

“We stand here today in this beautiful setting of Soldier’s Grove to honor the men and women who served our country honorably and heroically as members of our armed forces,” said Boback. “The bills were reported out of my committee just before Memorial Day. With the remembrance of D-Day, June 6, 1944, coupled with the upcoming 4th of July celebration, we felt that it was paramount to work together on behalf of our veteran community throughout the Commonwealth. The committee came together, in a bipartisan fashion, to produce a package of bills that will truly assist our veterans and their families.

“I know that there is more to do, and I assure you other bills will follow later in the year, but this package of bills will improve the lives of veterans across Pennsylvania. The package increases funding for our Act 66 Veterans Service Office Program, as well as our Pennsylvania Veterans Trust Fund. Additional funding is also increased for our Veteran Honor Guard Programs at Pennsylvania’s three national cemeteries and increases our State Blind and Paralyzed Veterans Pension Programs.

“The committee worked to additionally enhance college admission criteria, create greater protections for veterans discharge papers, update our veterans’ outreach and service programs and membership criteria for various veterans and military commissions. There is legislation also focused on establishing Pennsylvania as a partner in the ‘National Medal of Honor Highway’ and a resolution to call on the United States Congress to embrace new therapies for the treatment of post-traumatic stress injuries.

“We must always search for solutions and assistance for those who have suffered trauma, injuries and loss on our behalf – they truly deserve the best care they can receive. I am grateful for the sponsors of the legislation and the committee members and I look forward to seeing their passage through the General Assembly.”

‘For Those Who Served’ package of bills included House Bills 164, 490, 941, 995, 1055, 1057, 1091, 1220, 1389, 1421, and 1427; House Resolution 103; and Senate Bill 155.

For more information on the legislation, go to https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/bills/.

The press conference can be viewed here.

Geisinger Welcomes New Chair of Cardiology

Specialty-trained cardiologist accepts role as vice chair of Heart Institute

George Ruiz, M.D., a seasoned clinical cardiologist and proven leader, has joined Geisinger as chair of Cardiology and vice chair of the Geisinger Heart Institute.

As counterpart to John Conte, M.D., chair of Cardiothoracic Surgery and vice chair of the Heart Institute, Dr. Ruiz rounds out institute leadership under Alfred Casale, M.D., chief medical officer of surgical services and chair of the Heart Institute at Geisinger.

With more than 20 years of clinical experience, Dr. Ruiz cares for adult cardiology and adult congenital heart disease patients in central and northeastern Pennsylvania in addition to serving in his leadership roles. A bilingual physician, Dr. Ruiz has treated and organized outreach to the Spanish-speaking community for more than two decades.

Dr. Ruiz specializes in clinical cardiology with a subspecialty in adult congenital heart disease and pulmonary hypertension, and he has extensive experience in mechanical circulatory support and adult heart failure. As a leader, he focuses on improving quality of care within complex, progressive service programs.

Dr. Ruiz earned his medical degree from Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University in the Bronx, New York. He completed his residency in internal medicine and fellowships in cardiovascular medicine and adult congenital heart disease at Harvard Medical School’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Before coming to Geisinger, Dr. Ruiz held academic and clinical leadership roles, including instructor of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, director of Advanced Cardiac Support, Pulmonary Hypertension and Advanced Heart Failure at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C., and chief of Cardiology at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital and Harbor Hospital in Baltimore.

He also served as a White House Fellow and special assistant to United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs James Nicholson from 2005 to 2006 and consultant to Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs Gordon Mansfield from 2007 to 2008.

Dr. Ruiz is board certified in cardiology, advanced heart failure, and adult congenital heart disease, and he is fluent in English and Spanish.

Misericordia University Club Sends Thank-You Cards to Healthcare Workers

A group of local university students recently expressed their gratitude to healthcare workers at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center and Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre for their work during the pandemic.

Members of the Sign Language Club at Misericordia University recently organized a service project to make thank-you cards for the nurses and doctors at the two hospitals. The project, organized by club president, Jenna-Leigh Marrone, sent more than 70 thank you cards to hospital staff members.

Marrone created a template for the card and asked the club members to add their own words of appreciation to the hospital staff.

The club members were excited to write cards to give back in some way to the healthcare workers. The other officers of the club and I were amazed at how many cards we received,” Marrone saide. “We all felt that words and cards do not reflect to all the caring and selfless work that the hospital staff has been doing, but it was something we wanted to do to remind them that we are appreciative and forever grateful for them.” 

The Misercordia Sign Language Club was created two years ago by Marrone, a speech-language pathology major at the school, whose older sister is deaf. The club has 110 members from all different majors but with the majority in nursing and education.

Marrone, club member Julianna Simunek and club treasurer Faith Foster recently delivered the cards along with thank-you balloons.

“This was a way to thank the hospital staff for making our community a safer and healthier place,” Marrone added.

Rally for Restaurants Announces Not Just One, but Five #RallyFinale Contest Winners

Lackawanna College Rally for Restaurants and Metz Culinary Management had committed to raising up to $10,000 for the #RallyFinale Contest through their final dinner event with Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, but exceeded the amount, raising $14,000. Instead of awarding just one grand prize, Rally for Restaurants awarded the grand prize of $10,000to the winning restaurant, The 16th Ward which received the most community votes along with $1,000to each of the four finalists at an award ceremony on May 10 at 409 on Adams at Lackawanna College.

In collaboration with Metz Culinary Management, the Rally for Restaurants #RallyFinale Contest asked local restaurants to submit videos explaining how the funds would help support their eatery after being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Finalists stated that the funds would help replace equipment, pay for building repairs, cover bills, and pay employees.

“The spirit of Rally for Restaurants is an entire community coming together to help our local restaurants survive the pandemic,” said Stephanie Decker, AVP for Social and Economic Impact at Lackawanna College. “We are blown away by the overwhelming support. Once again, Northeast Pa. comes through for our area businesses. Lackawanna College is not a community college, but we are a college for our community and together we are making a difference.”

The Lackawanna College Rally for Restaurants initiative was able to donate a total of $79,300 to the local restaurant community and generate over $17,000 in scholarships for students in the Kiesendahl School of Hospitality.

“Our community continues to come together in amazing ways. We have a long road ahead to help our businesses and households recover – projects like Rally for Restaurants are a huge piece of getting us there,” said Scranton MayorPaige Gebhardt Cognetti.

“We were overwhelmed with the positive response and attendance this past Thursday for the final night of the Rally for Restaurants event held at the College featuring our Ruth’s Chris Steak House menu executed by the service and culinary team at Lackawanna College,” said Jeff Metz, President & CEO of Metz Culinary Management. “The sold-out event allowed us to raise even more money than we expected which will allow us to give back to the community in an even more meaningful way. We are proud to help support local restaurants as we are all in this together.”

#RallyFinale Contest Finalists included The 16th Ward, Bar Pazzo, POSH, El Buen Amigo, and Eden a Vegan Café.

Tobyhanna Army Depot’s AUSA Chapter Honored by the 109th Infantry Regiment Association

Maj. (ret) Mike Jones (left), president of 109th Infantry Regiment Association, presents Sgt. Maj. (ret) Kelvin Spencer, president of Tobyhanna Army Depot’s AUSA chapter, with a plaque of the 109th Infantry Regimental Colors.

The plaque represents the association’s recognition of the chapter’s support to the Soldiers and families of the 109th Infantry Regiment throughout the greater Scranton area. The event took place on April 12 at Tobyhanna Army Depot. The Association is based in Scranton.

“Tobyhanna’s AUSA chapter has been a valuable partner with the 109th Infantry Regiment Association, which provides support directly to our Gold Star Families, our Wounded Warriors, [and] members and Veterans of the 109th Infantry Battalion,” said Jones.

The 109th Infantry Regiment Association’s primary focus is to provide educational assistance in the form of a Legacy Scholarship Program awarded to the children of the 109th Infantry Regiment Gold Star Families.

The organization also supports wounded veterans through the Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors Program and support to Camp Freedom. Camp Freedom is a year-round adventure camp for individuals with disabilities, including veterans and first responders, their families, and Gold Star families, which provides quality hunting, shooting sports, fishing, camping, hiking, biking and other year round outdoor activities.

Quandel Construction Group Inc. Rolls Out New Energy Solutions Business Unit

Quandel Construction Group, Inc., a Quandel Enterprises Company, recognizes that building owners and operators are expected to deliver safe, efficient, and reliably functional facilities to their occupants. Expanding out from their core construction services, Quandel Construction Group today announced a new service offering – Quandel Energy Solutions – to help clients upgrade their facilities to be more energy efficient and to improve their indoor environments.

Today’s facility owners are faced with many challenges to adequately maintain and upgrade their buildings. Combining uncertain budgets and revenue streams with an avalanche of deferred maintenance, finding a path forward can seem overwhelming. Quandel Energy Solutions provides alternative delivery methods for achieving building upgrades, with a focus on energy and operational efficiency, that will maximize the use of construction and maintenance budgets for both public and private sector clients.

Quandel Energy Solutions is led by Kevin Snoke, PE, CHC, President, and Michael Conchilla, PE, CEM, BEAP, Vice President of Operations. Snoke brings more than 40 years of experience in the construction industry, having led construction projects in a wide range of markets including senior living, education, and industrial. Conchilla brings 27 years of energy efficiency and construction experience, having provided a variety of services such as consulting, energy auditing, performance contracting, and facility capital planning, primarily in municipal, university, school, and health care (MUSH) markets.

As a leader in the construction industry for more than 100 years, Quandel Energy Solutions understands the inherent complexity of buildings and the interactions of building systems. They will take the time to understand your building, identify issues and opportunities, and work with you to identify alternatives to meet your scope and budget objectives. Quandel Energy Solutions’ team of professionals can assist clients implement strategies with an emphasis on energy savings and offer public sector clients a different delivery mechanism that can reduce the bottom-line cost to taxpayers. Quandel Energy Solutions will seamlessly bring together their broad market solutions to clients and cover the life cycle of planning, design, program, and construction management, operations, and maintenance services.

“Our approach is centered on the idea of providing an honest assessment of the current condition and operation of your buildings, then developing the best solutions to address the issues,” said Snoke. “We then present a best-value business case for implementing those solutions in a manner that is least disruptive to your operation or business.”

Recognizing the construction industry is a primary consumer of energy and materials, Quandel Construction Group continues to evolve their service offerings to build sustainability, realize energy saving measures and associated costs more rapidly, and meet the needs and goals of each of their clients.

For more information, visit www.quandel.com or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

FNCB Bank Donates $10,000 to MyCIL’s Transitional Skills Center

FNCB Bank, locally-based since 1910, has announced a $10,000 Pennsylvania Education Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) donation to MyCIL in support of programming at their Transitional Skills Center.

The Transitional Skills Center is a state-of-the-art facility where students with different disabilities develop the skills they need to reach their independent living goals. Part of MyCIL (Northeast PA Center for Independent Living), the Transitional Skills Center features comprehensive and customized programming that includes community-based learning experiences, recreation and wellness, group facilitation and more.

Since 2010, FNCB has contributed almost $2.5 million dollars to local educational and scholarship organizations through the EITC initiative.

The support of MyCIL is part of FNCB’s larger Community Caring initiative. As a true, local community bank, FNCB Bank is making a difference through volunteerism, donations and outreach programs.

Telespond Senior Services Awarded $13,000 to Support Senior Companion Program

Telespond Senior Services accepted a $13,000 award from the PNC Foundation to support seniors at risk of isolation in northeastern PA. Funds will be used within Telespond’s Senior Companion program, which has faithfully served the Lackawanna County community for over 40 years. Last year, 87 Senior Companions provided over 240 clients with socialization, recreation, and non-medical daily living assistance.

The award will continue to support companions’ in-home engagement with seniors and will enable expanded and continued engagement through letter-writing and phone call campaigns through the COVID-19 pandemic. This program aims to alleviate burdens of isolation that have become especially prevalent for older adults due to COVID-19.

Thanks to the generosity of federal funders and organizations including the PNC Foundation, the Senior Companion program remains completely free to the older adults it serves while providing volunteers with a small stipend for their services. To learn more about the Senior Companion program, visit http://www.seniordayservices.org/senior-companion/