16th Annual Scranton Jazz Festival

The Scranton Jazz Festival is an annual event that takes place in downtown Scranton, PA the first weekend of August. The Main Stage is located at the Historic Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel.

After the main stage closes there is a “Jazz Walk” throughout numerous downtown Scranton venues. It is an authentic weekend of Jazz, Blues, World Beat music and much more. see the schedule of artists at www.scrantonjazzfestival.org

Johnson College Offering Innovation and Creation Camp

Johnson College offers a 1-week Innovation and Creation Camp for 7th, 8th, and 9th-grade students from Monday, August 16, 2021, to Friday, August 20, 2021, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on the Johnson College campus in Scranton, PA. The cost of the camp is $50 per student, and space is limited.

Students will utilize problem-solving and critical thinking skills while learning about the latest robotics and STEM technologies. They will start camp as a passive user of technology but finish as experienced inventors.

For more information and to register, email Tim Frank, Academic Program Specialist at Johnson College, at tfrank@johnson.edu.

PennDOT Releases Transportation Equity Report

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Secretary Yassmin Gramian announced the release of the department’s first Dismantling Systemic Racism and Inequities (DSRI) report, which evaluates PennDOT’s diversity and inclusion efforts, better understanding structural racism in transportation, and evaluating programs and initiatives that could help support equitable transportation in Pennsylvania.

“Race and transportation have long been intertwined, and the nation’s infrastructure investments have impacted generations of people of color,” said Secretary Gramian. “It’s our responsibility to be honest about these impacts and take definitive steps toward a transportation system that serves everyone equitably.”

PennDOT oversees programs and policies affecting highways, urban and rural public transportation, airports, railroads, ports, and waterways. More than three-quarters of PennDOT’s annual budget is invested in Pennsylvania’s approximately 120,000 miles of state and local highways and 32,000 state and local bridges. PennDOT also administers the state’s 11.8 million vehicle registrations and 10.3 million driver’s licenses and IDs and oversees safety and emission inspection programs.

PennDOT’s DSRI report was spearheaded by a working group representing staff from across the department that met weekly to evaluate various measures of equity across PennDOT’s operations and identify areas for improvement.

The DSRI report discussed how PennDOT can achieve greater equity in the areas of contracting, public involvement, community investment, our boards and commissions, and of course, PennDOT’s own internal culture. The report was informed through discussions with community leaders, PennDOT staff who are people of color, and leaders at other state departments of transportation. Additionally, the report reflects the work of an executive working group, which embarked on several initiatives that will have short- and long-term impacts on vulnerable populations and communities of color.

“This report is an important step in PennDOT’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, but we know that this work is ongoing,” said Secretary Gramian. “Creating and supporting a quality transportation system that works for everyone is at the center of the department’s mission, and PennDOT is committed to the ongoing work that this requires.”

“The Governor’s Advisory Commission on African American Affairs (GACAAA) recognizes the hard work PennDOT has undertaken to identify and dismantle disparities with both internal and external stakeholders,” said Jalila Parker, Executive Director of the Governor’s Advisory Commission on African American Affairs. “We are committed to working with PennDOT’s Dismantling Systemic Racism and Inequities Working Group on strategic action aimed at creating sustainable and meaningful impact at the Department of Transportation.”

“PennDOT is making great strides in making the department more inclusive to the diverse communities across Pennsylvania,” said Luz Colon, Executive Director of the Governor’s Advisory Commission in Latino Affairs. “As we know, the Latinx population face challenges in mobility and access to transportation. With the partnership of PennDOT’s Dismantling System Racism and Inequity Work Group it is vital to support these efforts for a more inclusive Pennsylvania for many more years to come.”

The PennDOT Dismantling Systemic Racism and Inequities report can be viewed here.

To learn more about transportation equity and the department’s efforts in this area, visit PennDOT’s website.

Marywood University Offers Continuing Education Summer Art Workshops

Marywood University is offering Continuing Education Summer Art Workshops during the months of July and August. These workshops include:

  • Handmade Mugs – Saturday, July 31, 10 a.m,- noon, in the Ceramics Room on the first floor of the Insalaco Center for Studio Arts. Participants will roll out a slab of clay and add a handle to create a mug to include a favorite quote, initials, or design on the side to enjoy each morning with coffee or tea. The cost of the workshop is $50, and includes 3 pounds of clay, glazes, and firings.
  • Coil Building Workshop – Saturday, August 7, 12 – 4 p.m., in the Ceramics Room on the first floor of the Insalaco Center for Studio Arts. Participants will learn the basics of flattened and paddled coiling to create functional and decorative vessels. This workshop will provide attendees with historical notes as well as hands-on experience to help them gain an appreciation for this ancient art. Attendees will explore the coiling process to create a variety of bowls, mugs, and vases. The cost of the workshop is $120 and is open to all skill levels, and all forms of expression will be encouraged.
  • Beginning Calligraphy – Saturday, August 21, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Room 336, in the Insalaco Center for Studio Arts. An easy introduction to calligraphy includes instruction on how to set up your space, how to hold the pen properly, and the proper movements to make perfect letter strokes. A special calligraphy felt tip pen is included, as well as special calligraphy papers for a small materials fee. The cost is $35 plus a materials fee of $10, payable to Margie Zaums, instructor, at the time of the workshop.

For additional information on these workshops, please contact Christine Medley at cmedley@marywood.edu.

Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders to Participate in Triple-A Final Stretch

Minor League Baseball™ (MiLB™) and Major League Baseball™ (MLB™) announced the rescheduling of 10 games at the Triple-A level that were postponed at the start of the 2021 season. The rescheduled games will be played in a new postseason tournament format called the “Triple-A Final Stretch” and will follow the current 120-game Triple-A championship season schedule. All 30
Triple-A Clubs will play five home games and five road games during the Final Stretch.

For each the Triple-A East and Triple-A West, a 2021 Regular Season Champion will be named based on overall winning percentage through the originally scheduled championship season (concluding Sept. 19 and Sept. 21, respectively). Among the 30 Clubs, a single 2021 Triple-A Final Stretch Winner will also be crowned based on the highest overall winning percentage during this 10-game stretch. The winning Club will be awarded a prize from Major League Baseball.

“We think this format will add excitement to the end of the season while also allowing our teams a chance to reschedule games that were lost earlier in the year,” said Major League Baseball Senior Vice President, Minor League Operations and Development Peter Woodfork. “With all 30 teams
participating in this Final Stretch, all Triple-A players and communities will have the opportunity to win this year’s postseason tournament.”

The following tiebreakers will apply to determine the two Regular Season
Champions as well as the Final Stretch winner:

  1. Best regular season winning percentage.
  2. Regular season head-to-head record (if three or more clubs are tied, the
    best winning percentage in games among the Clubs).
  3. Best regular season winning percentage over the final 20 games.
  4. Best regular season winning percentage over the final 21 games, etc.
    The schedule for the Triple-A Final Stretch is attached and the matchups are as follows:

Geisinger’s MyCode Contributes to Gene Mutations Discovery by Regeneron Genetics Center

Scientists from the Regeneron Genetics Center (RGC) have discovered rare genetic mutations in the GPR75 gene that are associated with protection against obesity.

As part of the research that led to the finding, published in Science, RGC scientists analyzed deidentified genetic and associated health data from 645,000 volunteers from the United Kingdom, United States and Mexico, including participants in Geisinger’s MyCode Community Health Initiative.

It is estimated that more than one billion people will be suffering from severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 35 or higher) by 2030. Working with collaborators, RGC scientists found that individuals who have at least one inactive copy of the GPR75 gene have lower BMI and, on average, tend to weigh about 12 pounds less and face a 54% lower risk of obesity than those without the mutation. Protective mutations were found in about one of every 3,000 people sequenced.

“This is a potentially game-changing discovery that could improve the lives and health of millions of people dealing with obesity, for whom lasting interventions have often been elusive,” said Christopher D. Still, D.O., director for the Geisinger Obesity Research Institute at Geisinger Medical Center. “While the behavioral and environmental ties to obesity are well understood, the discovery of GPR75 helps us put the puzzle pieces together to better understand the influence of genetics. Further studies and evaluation are needed to determine if reducing weight in this manner can also lower the risk of conditions commonly associated with high BMI, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and fatty liver disease.”

Regeneron scientists, collaborating with scientists at New York Medical College, replicated their finding in mice that were genetically engineered using Regeneron’s VelociGene® technology to lack copies of the GPR75 gene. Such mice gained 44% less weight than mice without the mutation when both groups were fed a high-fat diet.

Regeneron scientists are pursuing multiple therapeutic pathways – such as antibody, small molecule and gene silencing approaches – based on this newly discovered genetic target. “Discovering protective genetic superpowers, such as in GPR75, provides hope in combatting global health challenges as complex and prevalent as obesity,” said George D. Yancopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., co-founder, president and chief scientific officer at Regeneron.

“Discovery of protective mutations – many of which have been made by the Regeneron Genetics Center in its eight-year history – will allow us to unlock the full potential of genetic medicine by instructing on where to deploy cutting-edge approaches like gene-editing, gene-silencing and viral vector technologies.”

Boback Announces Veterans Assistance Appointments

Rep. Karen Boback (R-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Wyoming) welcomes veterans assistance appointments back into her district offices in Dallas and Tunkhannock from the American Legion and Disabled American Veterans.

The Dallas district office located at 105 Lt. Michael Cleary Drive hosts both a service officer from the American Legion and a representative from the Disabled American Veterans Outreach. On the fourth Tuesday of every month starting in August, veterans can schedule an appointment with the American Legion service officer, Brian Stolarski from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. On the fourth Thursday of every month a representative from the Disabled American Veterans Outreach is in the office from noon to 3 p.m. To schedule an appointment at the Dallas district office, please call 570-675-6000.

The Tunkhannock district office located at 133 W. Tioga Street, Suite 4, hosts the American Legion service officer, the first Wednesday of every month from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. To schedule an appointment at the Tunkhannock district office, please call 570-836-4777.

Veterans or their dependents can schedule a meeting for a veterans assistance appointment to discuss issues and have questions answered about benefits and services for which they may be eligible.

Services available to veterans and their dependents include assistance with compensation, pension, death benefits, education, and health care. Veterans do not need to be a member of the organizations to receive these services.

Appointments are necessary and space is limited.

Marywood University Announces New VP for Finance and Administration

Sister Mary Persico, IHM, Ed.D., president of Marywood University, announced that William McDonald has been appointed by the board of trustees as the university’s new vice president for finance and administration (VPFA), effective July 1, 2021.

In his new role as Marywood’s VPFA, Mr. McDonald will serve as the university’s chief financial officer and will oversee a range of administrative and business operations that support Marywood and facilitate the advancement of its academic mission. He will be a key member of the executive leadership team, helping to define the strategic direction of the institution and providing leadership in the development and implementation of its financial and administrative infrastructure, along with its operational procedures.

“Bill is a seasoned vice president and has a thorough working knowledge of all the fiscal and related operations of an institution of higher education,” said Sister Mary Persico. “He resonates strongly with our mission and culture.” 

Mr. McDonald comes to Marywood from Bloomfield College, Bloomfield, N.J., where he focused his entire career on higher education finance, planning, and administration. During his more than three decades at Bloomfield, he worked his way through the ranks in fiscal roles and responsibilities, beginning as an accountant and ultimately becoming the institution’s vice president for finance and administration.

Mr. McDonald’s sound financial and administrative management during his career at Bloomfield resulted in operating efficiencies, revenue enhancements, and cost reductions in the areas of finance, technology, recruitment and retention, facilities, and vendor negotiations.

His work and dedication have been recognized with the Distinguished Service Award from Bloomfield College, a Gold Award from the Downtown N.J. Excellence Awards for Franklin Street Residence Hall, and a Development Recognition Award from the Suburban Essex Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, Mr. McDonald twice merited the Dedicated Service Award from Livingston National Little League and Softball.

His community affiliations include the Ancient Order of Hibernians and Knights of Columbus-Military Wounded & Veterans Project. Mr. McDonald was previously involved in the Bloomfield Business Advisory Board, Livingston American/National Little League and Softball, and Project Children.

Mr. McDonald holds a master of science degree in management from Thomas Edison State College (Trenton, N.J.) and a bachelor of science degree in accounting and administration with a concentration in finance, from Bloomfield College (Bloomfield, N.J.) Additionally, he completed the College Business Management Institute Program of the Southern Association of College and University Business Officers at the University of Kentucky (Lexington, Ky.)