Penguins Sign Defenseman Christopher Merisier-Ortiz

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins announced today that they have signed defenseman Christopher Merisier-Ortiz to a two-year, American Hockey League contract set to start in the 2021-22 season.

Merisier-Ortiz played the past four seasons in the Québec Major Junior Hockey League. In 231 games, he racked up 129 points (20G-109A).

Last season, the 20-year-old blueliner posted 12 points, all assists, for the Baie-Comeau Drakkar before being traded to the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. With Blainville-Boisbriand, Merisier-Ortiz was a point-per-game player with four goals and 20 assists in 24 games.

Despite the mid-season trade, he still led all Drakkar defensemen with 12 assists and tied for the team lead for points among blueliners at the end of 2020-21.

A native of Boisbriand, Québec, Merisier-Ortiz spent three and a half seasons as a teammate of fellow Penguins prospect, Nathan Légaré. Légaré was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the third round (74th overall) of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft and will also become a first-year pro this upcoming season.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton will open its 2021-22 slate at home against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Oct. 16. Puck drop is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.

Season tickets for the upcoming 2021-22 season are on sale now. Full-Season, 22-game, 12-game, Flexbook and Premium Seating plans are available by reaching out to the Penguins directly at (570) 208-7367.

NeighborWorks and The Azek Company Kick Off Paint the Town 2021

NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania, along with The AZEK Company, will be hosting the 2021 Paint the Town volunteer event between Monday, August 30 and Friday, September 3. Small home repair, interior and exterior painting, and yard clean-up will be provided to six older adult headed households in West Scranton.

The AZEK Company, the innovative manufacturer of beautiful, low maintenance and environmentally sustainable outdoor living and home exterior products, is providing all the exterior materials, including their high-performance engineered decking, which decreases the need for upkeep and maintenance, securing the safety of the older adults receiving the product. The AZEK Company is also providing approximately 30 volunteers to complete the projects.

Also providing volunteers to complete the repairs for older adults are FNCB Bank, who will be providing installation assistance of NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania’s safety kits, which include items such as LED lights, night lights, hallway lighting, nonslip mats for entry ways and bathrooms, fire extinguishers, CO2/smoke detectors and other essential items to increase safety in the home. Other FNCB Bank employees will join The AZEK Company in completing small home repairs and painting.

Marywood University’s Bachelor of Social Work students will be supporting safety efforts for older adults by assisting in yard clean up for a West Scranton older adult resident, removing fallen branches and beautifying the yard.

For more information and a schedule of events please contact Mary Endrusick, Aging in Place Coordinator at 570-954-0637.

Wolf Administration Continues Combatting Litter, Urges Public to Stop Costly and Unsightly Practice

Continuing the commonwealth’s battle against litter as the summer travel season winds down, Governor Tom Wolf today highlighted agency efforts to clean up and cut down on this unsightly illegal activity.

“Through public education, enforcement, clean ups, and volunteering, the commonwealth is working tirelessly to beautify Pennsylvania,” Governor Wolf said. “We cannot keep our communities clean without the public’s help, and I call on everyone to take personal responsibility for ending this ugly practice.”

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) crews across the state have expanded their routine litter pickup operations and these enhanced cleanups will continue through Labor Day. Cleanups are occurring on higher-traffic roadways where volunteer groups cannot safely pick up litter. Motorists are reminded to slow down, drive with caution, be alert for stopped or slow-moving vehicles, and watch for workers near the roadway, along interchanges and entrance/exit ramps.

PennDOT spends roughly $14 million annually on statewide litter efforts. Department programs such as Adopt-A-Highway and Sponsor-A-Highway allow groups and businesses to volunteer to adopt or pay to sponsor cleanup and beautification on roadways across the state.

“Every dollar we have to spend on litter cleanup is a dollar we cannot invest in our system,” PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian said. “We are grateful for the work of our crews and volunteers, though what we really need is an end to littering.”

The department also unveiled new anti-littering messages that will appear on its electronic message signs across the state through September 2. Appearing when active travel alerts are not displayed, the messages aim to appeal to travelers’ civic pride and address a finding of a 2019 statewide litter survey – cigarette butts were among the most common items found in the estimated 500 million pieces of litter on Pennsylvania roads.

To underscore littering as an illegal practice, this summer the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) initiated Operation Clean Sweep, a project reinforcing a zero-tolerance mindset with litter enforcement and sharing anti-litter messages throughout the year. The operation complements a 2018 state law allowing the designation of Litter Enforcement Corridors.

Litter Enforcement Corridors have a high aesthetic or historic value worth preserving or need some additional help with litter issues. Approved segments will be marked with signs to notify motorists of additional litter fines: doubled penalties for motorists caught scattering rubbish and tripled when it is done by a commercial business.

Local governments can help tackle litter in their communities by designating Litter Enforcement Corridors or working with PennDOT to identify potential state-owned corridors.

“The Pennsylvania State Police is committed to keeping Pennsylvania beautiful by enforcing the state’s litter laws,” said Colonel Robert Evanchick, commissioner of the PSP. “Littering is 100 percent preventable with fines beginning at $300. The public is encouraged to report any litter violation they witness by contacting their local law enforcement agency.”

Other state agencies and partners actively work on litter prevention and cleanups year-round and reiterated the harm of litter.

“Most litter along the road isn’t going to decompose in our lifetime. If you saw it today, you’re likely to see it again the next time you pass by, still leaching, breaking into microplastics, creating hazards for people and wildlife, and diminishing our communities and landscape,”  said Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “On top of this, litter cleanup is a big cost to state government and local communities, and ultimately all Pennsylvanians. Ending the littering habit will benefit everyone and everything that lives in Pennsylvania.” 

DEP lists many ways Pennsylvanians can reduce litter and be a role model and is working with PennDOT, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, and community leaders statewide on developing a littering prevention campaign based on state research. 

Additionally, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful urges Pennsylvania residents to participate in Pick Up Pennsylvania, in support of the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup. This annual event – from September 1 through November 30 – is an opportunity to improve neighborhoods and Pennsylvania’s waterways by coordinating or participating in a litter cleanup. Registration is now open.

During this period, registered events can get free trash bags, gloves, and safety vests provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, PennDOT, and the Ocean Conservancy, as supplies last.

“Whether you are cleaning up a local waterway, your local park or the street that you live on – it all makes a difference in reducing the amount of litter reaching our oceans. We are honored to provide the resources and supplies needed to help volunteers improve our communities,” said Shannon Reiter, president of Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful. “Picking up litter is something we can all do to support our communities. Please lend a hand and join us in a cleanup this fall.”

For more information on how the public can help with anti-littering efforts to keep our state highways clean see PennDOT’s Roadside Beautification webpage. Photos of department-force and volunteer cleanups, informational graphics, and videos from Wolf Administration officials discouraging litter are available in PennDOT’s Litter-Beautification Media Center.

Marywood’s Communication Sciences and Disorders Department Notes 100 Percent Pass Rate & Gold Chapter Honors

Marywood University’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) recently garnered two noteworthy accolades, including a perfect pass rate on the National Examination in Speech-Language Pathology by its recent graduates and Gold Chapter Honors by its campus chapter of the National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association (NSSLHA). Both are repeat, multi-year accomplishments for program graduates and students.

The 2021 graduating class from the Master of Science program in Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) achieved 100 percent pass rate on the National Examination in Speech-Language Pathology, which is required for certification as a speech-language pathologist by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and licensure in all states. The CSD Department currently has a multi-year average of 100 percent for passing the National Examination of its SLP graduates within one year of graduation.

The National NSSLHA Executive Council recently informed the Marywood NSSLHA Chapter that the chapter had once again earned Gold Chapter Honors, with this most recent honor occurring during the 2020-2021 academic year. Chapters who earn Gold Honors are credited for “increasing awareness of communication disorders among state and federal legislators and across communities; supporting clients, students, and organizations in their community; creating vibrant online conversations in the NSSLHA Community; providing monetary donations to support various organizations in the community and scholarships for students in CSD programs.”

This past year, the Marywood NSSLHA Chapter provided monetary donations and community service to the Alzheimer’s Association. Donations were also made to the Pacer Pantry, and service was provided throughout the community.

Andrea Novak, associate professor of practice in the CSD Department and faculty advisor for the Marywood NSSLHA Chapter, stated, “Our students go above and beyond to provide service, whether it be on Marywood’s campus or in the community. They are such a unique group of individuals who are always looking for ways to serve.”

Marywood’s NSSLHA chapter consists of approximately 50 student members from the undergraduate CSD and graduate SLP programs. Officers for the 2020-2021 academic year were: Katelyn Gjini, President (Ramsey, NJ); Nicole Koestler, Vice-President (Hazlet, NJ); Hannah Longacre, Secretary (Chambersburg, PA); Alaina Brenneman, Treasurer (Scranton, PA).

Geisinger Requiring COVID-19 Vaccine for All Employees

Today, 18 months into the COVID-19 pandemic and facing another surge in infections, hospitalizations and deaths, Geisinger is announcing all employees will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 15. Rooted in values for safety and high-quality care, the decision requiring employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine follows months of careful study and discussion.

“Based on overwhelming evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, we believe this is the right decision at the right time to protect our patients and employees and slow the spread of this deadly virus in our communities,” said Jaewon Ryu, M.D., J.D., Geisinger’s president and chief executive officer. “We understand that some employees who have consciously chosen to not get vaccinated may be disappointed by this decision. We hope they will understand that this is a necessary step to protect the health of our patients and their colleagues.”

In addition to current employees, the COVID-19 vaccine requirement includes all new employees, faculty, medical staff, residents, fellows, temporary workers, trainees, volunteers, students and temporary staff, regardless of employer. Employees must complete a Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine series by October 15. All new employees will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment beginning on October 15.

“With new variants taking hold, causing rising COVID-19 numbers locally, nationally and in our hospitals, our communities can’t afford for health care workers to be out of work because of COVID-19,” Ryu said. “Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, our employees have worked tirelessly, under challenging and unprecedented circumstances to continue delivering world-class care to our friends and neighbors, and this now includes requiring our employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine.”

An exemption process is available for employees who have a documented and very specific medical reason or sincerely held religious belief that preclude them from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Geisinger has similar vaccination requirements for employees to be protected from viruses like influenza, measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis and more.

Today’s announcement aligns with the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Group Association, the American College of Physicians, the American Nurses Association, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and many more that have strongly recommended COVID-19 vaccine requirements for health care workers. Geisinger stands with these respected organizations in putting the safety of its patients and staff first.

Currently, about 70 percent of Geisinger employees are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. These employees and all those who meet the COVID-19 vaccine requirement by October 15 are showing a commitment to our values and keeping our patients, communities and co-workers safe. As a thank you for living Geisinger’s values, all non-executive leadership employees who meet the COVID-19 vaccine requirement or receive an approved exemption will be paid a one-time $500 bonus in late October.

In addition to COVID-19 vaccines, Geisinger continues to follow other safety measures to prevent the virus’ spread, including requiring masks in all buildings, limiting visitation, and reducing capacity in public spaces to encourage physical distancing. For the latest COVID information, including Geisinger’s policies, visit

Clarks Summit University Job and Ministry Fair

As Clarks Summit University is making preparations for the school year, the Office of Student Development is grateful to reinstate the Job and Ministry Fair on campus. The fair gives local businesses, churches and organizations a chance to connect with students to share employment and volunteer opportunities. The fair will be held Friday, Sept. 10, from 10-11 a.m. at CSU’s on-campus Recreation Center.

Marilyn Luster, director of student employment and career readiness, sees it as more than just a chance for students to get a job or sign up to help a non-profit; she wants to give businesses an “opportunity to partner with us in the development of our students.” CSU is committed to preparing Christ-Centered, Career-Ready graduates through academics, co-curriculars and experience-based learning platforms. Off campus jobs and ministries can be part of the intentional student preparation process.

“We are thankful for the partnerships we have had with local employers, churches, and non-profits in the greater Scranton area, and we are continuing to seek more partners who are willing to invest in our students,” says Luster.

“CSU students have the reputation within our community of having strong character and being honest, hardworking, diligent and consistent. We value the relationships our students have developed with local employers, ministries and non-profits. We are excited for another year to provide the opportunity to send our students into the community to work and serve.”

Local businesses, churches and other organizations can reserve a table to present job, ministry and volunteer opportunities at the 2021 Job & Ministry Fair. Hundreds of residential undergraduate students will attend. Employers and organizations will be provided with an eight-foot table and can request an electrical outlet. They are also welcome to request two or more tickets to enjoy lunch with our students and staff beginning at 11:30 a.m. Please bring your own tablecloth, sign and promotional material.

Registration is free and quick! Employers and organizations can reserve a table at 2021 Job & Ministry Fair through the Registration Form here: There is limited space available, so please register by August 27.

Questions can be directed to Marilyn Luster at or 570.585.9316. Future employment, internship, volunteer and ministry opportunities for on-campus students can also be directed to Luster throughout the year.

Intermediate Beekeeping Certificate Registration Open

The Lackawanna College Environmental Education Center is accepting registrations for Intermediate Beekeeping Certificate which will begin Sept. 2, 2021.

The Intermediate Beekeeping certificate is part of an intensive multi-level program designed to provide students with a deep understanding of honey bees and beekeeping. The three levels of certification are as follows: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced.

The Intermediate program is designed to support beekeepers who have completed the Beginner Beekeeping Certificate or have kept bees for two or more seasons. By the end of the course, beekeepers will be able to grow their apiary, improve their colonies beyond the beginner level and maintain a sustainable apiary.

Upon successful completion of the course, students will earn an Intermediate Beekeeping Certificate and will be prepared to take the Advanced Beekeeping Certificate program, which is set to begin Spring 2022

The Intermediate Beekeeping program runs every Thursday from 5:00 to 7:00pm from Sept. 2 to Nov. 4.  The cost is $250 for the certificate, textbook not included.

The program will be held at the Lackawanna College Environmental Education Center (LCEEC) which is located at 93 MacKenzie Road, Covington Township.

For more information about the program, please visit or contact Sharon Yanik-Craig at or call (570) 842-1506.

PennDOT, Pennsylvania State Police, Pennsylvania DUI Association Urge Responsible, Designated Driving Ahead of Labor Day Holiday

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP), and the Pennsylvania DUI Association gathered today with local police agencies and victim’s advocates in the DUI Victims’ Memorial Garden to urge motorists to celebrate responsibly ahead of the Labor Day holiday.

“Crashes involving impaired drivers are entirely preventable,” said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. “We are urging motorists to ensure their safety and the safety of others on our roadways by designating a sober driver this Labor Day weekend and every time they drink.”

The event featured victim advocate Kelli Donlen, whose nephew Zachary Gonzalez is memorialized in the DUI Victims’ Memorial Garden. The garden, which was dedicated in October 2003 and is located in front of the Pennsylvania DUI Association’s headquarters in Harrisburg, honors and remembers Pennsylvanians who have been killed in impaired driving crashes. Currently, more than 2,200 people are memorialized in the garden.

According to PennDOT data, in 2020 there were 2,698 crashes resulting in 39 fatalities statewide over the holiday week beginning Friday, September 4 at 6:00 PM and running through Sunday, September 13. Of those numbers, 231 crashes resulting in 12 fatalities were alcohol-related and 104 crashes resulting in three fatalities were drug-related.

Impaired driving enforcement goes beyond checking for alcohol impairment. Law enforcement also work to identify motorists impaired by illegal drugs and prescription medication or some combination of these. Pennsylvania has approximately 225 Drug Recognition Experts (DRE) or specially trained officers who look for impaired drivers and assist in DUI investigations when drug-impaired driving is suspected.

“We honor and remember the lives lost because someone chooses to drive impaired,” said PA DUI Association Executive Director C. Stephen Erni. “Labor Day weekend and every remaining day of the year, the message is clear: Do not drive impaired. Our collective goal is to end the suffering caused by an individual’s choice to drive impaired.”

Over this holiday period, the Pennsylvania State Police and local municipal agencies will conduct impaired driving enforcement details as part of a national impaired driving enforcement and education initiative running through September 6. This effort is funded through PennDOT’s statewide annual distribution of more than $4.7 million from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for impaired driving enforcement.

During the 2019 Labor Day holiday enforcement period, troopers made 610 DUI arrests and investigated 45 crashes in which alcohol was a factor. Due to the COVID-19 global pandemic and mitigation efforts that were in place throughout Pennsylvania at the time, statistical information was not collected during the 2020 Labor Day holiday driving period.

“Travelers are reminded this holiday weekend to slow down, buckle up, and don’t drive impaired or distracted,” said Captain Robert Wagner, assistant director of the Bureau of Patrol with the Pennsylvania State Police. “Troopers are trained to look for impaired driving behaviors and consistent with our highway safety mission have a zero-tolerance approach toward driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”

PennDOT encourages motorists to always plan ahead by either designating a sober driver or arranging for alternate transportation. The public can join the conversation on social media by using #BeSafePA and #DriveSober.

To learn more about PennDOT’s efforts to prevent impaired driving or other safety initiatives, visit

For more information on the Pennsylvania State Police, visit

For more information on the Pennsylvania DUI Association, visit

The PAcast for today’s statewide Labor Day Impaired Driving media event is now available online at

Marywood University Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for New Esports Center

Marywood University will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony for its new state-of-the-art Esports Center on Friday, October 22, 2021, at 3 p.m., at the Esports Center, in the Nazareth Student Center on the University’s campus. This event is free and open to the media and invited guests. Light fare will be served.

At the ribbon cutting, Marywood University dignitaries, including Sister Mary Persico, IHM, Ed.D., president; Lisa Lori, Esq., chair of the Board of Trustees; and Paul Capoccia, director of the Esports program, will present the new NEPA premier Esports Center to the public. Sister Catherine Luxner, IHM, vice president for mission services, will offer a blessing, in the Marywood tradition, of the Esports Center.

Marywood University’s Esports Center features 30 gaming stations, a workspace for broadcast (webcams, microphones), lounge area for team meetings and coaching sessions, coaching tools including smart tvs and white-board set-up, futuristic high-tech lighting, and a WOW factor that will entice all users of the facility.

The Esports program at Marywood blends function and practicality into an exciting premier gaming center. With function at its highest level, Marywood will also establish a welcoming culture in which students can interact and be supported. Visiting students and those competing will have a powerful experience.

For additional information about the Esports Center Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, or for questions about the Esports program, please visit, or contact Paul Capoccia, director the Esports program at Marywood University, at