PennDOT Joins Senator Casey, State and Local Officials in Johnstown to Celebrate Federal Grant Award

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Secretary Yassmin Gramian joined Senator Bob Casey, state Senator Wayne Langerholc, Jr., Mayor of Johnstown Frank Janakovic, Johnstown Vision 2025 chair Bill Polacek, Greater Johnstown Regional Partnership president Mark Pasquerilla, and Amtrak Assistant Vice President for Stations and Facilities George Holz to celebrate Johnstown receiving a $24.5 million Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant from the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) for its Iron-to-Arts Corridor project.

The Iron-to-Arts Corridor project will upgrade and connect Johnstown’s three downtown transit systems for visitors, residents, and commuters from all income levels: the Johnstown Train Station, the Inclined Plane transit system, and the Downtown Intermodal Bus Transportation Center. The total cost for the Iron-to-Arts Corridor project is just over $53 million with just under $29 million in state, local, philanthropic, other federal, and Amtrak funding already secured, with the remainder to be covered by the $24.5 million RAISE grant.

“Investment in transportation has historically paid dividends in economic development and thriving communities,” said Gramian. “I applaud Johnstown’s leaders for their strategic vision for this project, and for the growth of their city.”

“Today, I am proud to say that Johnstown can begin to take action on projects vital to the economic health of the region,” said Senator Casey. “Not only will upgrading and restoring transportation hubs allow for more pedestrian movement, these projects will facilitate commutes for workers and increase tourism. As we build back better, investing in our Nation’s infrastructure is absolutely critical. I will continue to advocate for resources to come to Johnstown and southwestern Pennsylvania.”

“Today’s announcement is of historic proportions and will greatly benefit the Greater Johnstown region and beyond. It is a true testament to the bipartisan collaboration across all levels – local, state, and federal. As chair of the Senate Transportation Committee and a key advocate for this funding, I look forward to its implementation and the catalyst it will be to spur further economic activity in our region,” said Langerholc.

Renovations for the historic Johnstown Train Station include restoring it as a multimodal center with daily Amtrak, regional rail, and bus transit services. The city also seeks to utilize now-vacant portions of this upgraded station for uses that could include a new Johnstown Visitors’ Center, a healthy food and farmers market, and a retail transit-oriented development expansion, along with the newly-launched headquarters of the Artist-Blacksmiths Association of North America (ABANA) which located there earlier this year.

The RAISE grant will also provide more funding, leveraging PennDOT investment, for the upgrade of the historic Johnstown Inclined Plane, restoring the passenger and vehicle funicular system to full function which will help boost ridership by 300% annually on this central CamTran transit link, further fostering an expanded regional tourism market and new economic development.  

The RAISE grant funding for the CamTran Downtown Bus Intermodal Transportation Center will design and construct upgrades to this central hub for bus transit with passenger safety upgrades, station improvements, and mobility connections to the surrounding catchment area.

The RAISE grant for the Iron-to-Arts Corridor will also provide the funding needed to connect these transit hubs with complete street and pedestrian and bicycle trail upgrades, a component called the “Main Street Greenway & Urban Connectivity” initiative.  This component of the project will improve walkability with 0.5 miles of complete street upgrades on Main Street including sidewalk, traffic calming, transit stop enhancements, ADA-accessibility, green infrastructure, and streetscape improvements. RAISE funding will also help this project connect key downtown segments of the Path of the Flood Trail and the Jim Mayer Riverwalk Trail, which will join these three transit hubs and key community anchors, as well as link Johnstown to the National 9/11 trail.

RAISE grants, formerly known as Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) and Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Discretionary Grants, fund projects that help build or repair critical pieces of freight or passenger transportation networks. Projects for RAISE funding are evaluated based on merit criteria that include safety, environmental sustainability, quality of life, economic competitiveness, state of good repair, innovation, and partnership. Projects are prioritized that can demonstrate improvements to racial equity, reduce impacts of climate change and create good-paying jobs.

For additional information about PennDOT’s multimodal program, please visit the Projects and Programs section of PennDOT’s website.

Marywood University Presenting Holiday Concert Series

Christmas traditions at Marywood University continue this year, with protocols in place to ensure safe, in-person experiences, including cultural events. As part of its “Making Spirits Bright” Christmas event series, Marywood is offering three holiday concerts, which are free and open to the public. Masking protocols must be followed at in-person events.

Concerts include:

● Chamber Singers Holiday Concert, Sunday, December 5, 4 p.m., at the Marian Chapel. This performance will include the famous “Alleluia” by Randall Thompson, the popular setting of “Lux Aurumque” by Eric Whitacre, and Carol Barnett’s spectacular “Hodie,” as well as carol settings and other sacred and secular music by American composers.

● Guitar Ensemble: Holiday Concert for a Global Community, Wednesday, December 8, 7 p.m., at the Marian Chapel. This concert is being produced in partnership with Marywood’s Center for Global Engagement. During the concert, hear a musical holiday message that Marywood President Sister Mary Persico IHM wrote especially for the event, spoken by the student musicians in several different languages.

● String Project Holiday Gala Concert, Thursday, December 9, 6:30 p.m., at the Sette LaVerghetta Center for Performing Arts. This concert features the children and student teachers from Marywood’s String Project. They will be playing music from around the world and some holiday music to welcome in the season.

For information on Marywood’s Christmas events, event registration links, and related resources, visit

Partnership with Local Pharmacy Offers Tuition-Free Education at Lackawanna College

Employees at DePietro’s Pharmacy in Dunmore will get a chance to attend Lackawanna College tuition-free in a new partnership agreement announced this week.

Under the agreement, DePietro’s employees who meet the requirements for the pharmacy’s tuition program will be offered a Lackawanna College Business Partners Scholarship. The agreement will allow employees to attend Lackawanna College tuition-free to pursue a bachelor’s or an associate degree.

“Working together with our local and regional businesses continue to help us understand and answer some of our labor force needs,” said Dr. Jill Murray, Lackawanna College President. “Partnering with DePietro’s Pharmacy will give employees a path to careers in growing and in-demand fields like healthcare.”

Dr. Murray also states that these partnerships help solve the social and economic issues of a growing national workforce shortage and the rising cost of tuition, keeping college affordable and accessible.

“The Lackawanna College Business Partnership Scholarship initiative is a great program that helps the College connect with the NEPA workforce,” said Jeff Gregory, Director of College Enrollment Partnerships. “Partnering businesses can offer employees a valuable incentive that helps retain their employees as well as hiring additional employees by helping them achieve additional skills.”

“At DePietro’s Pharmacy, we would not be successful without the hard work and effort given by all our employees. On a daily basis, I strive to show my appreciation for their commitment to our customers. This partnership will truly provide a life-changing experience for my team and future employees,” said Thomas DePietro, Pharmacist and Owner of DePietro’s Pharmacy.

The public-private partnership is one of many that are in the works at Lackawanna College that will cover a student’s full tuition.

University of Scranton Students Receive STEM Summer Research Awards

Sanofi Summer Research Awards to Student Impact Banner
Five University of Scranton Students received Excellence in STEM Program Sanofi US Summer Research Awards, which provided support for the students’ independent research projects. From left: Olivia Sander ’23, Elisa Yanni ’22, Michael Quinnan ’23 and Victoria Caruso ’22. Award recipient Nia Long is absent from photo.

Five University of Scranton students received Excellence in STEM Program Sanofi US Summer Research Awards, which provided support for the students’ independent research projects.

The University students who received the Excellence in STEM Sanofi US Summer Research Awards are: Victoria Caruso ’22, Freehold, New Jersey; Nia Long ’22, East Stroudsburg; Michael Quinnan ’23, Shavertown; Olivia Sander ’23, Macungie; and Elisa Yanni ’22, Scranton.

Caruso is majoring in biology at Scranton. She is working with her faculty mentor Amelia Randich, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology, on her research project entitled “Growth of diverse Alphaproteobacteria.”

Long is majoring in neuroscience at Scranton. She is working with her faculty mentor Marc Seid, Ph.D., associate professor of biology, on her research project entitled “Effects of chronic exposure to synthetic hydraulic fracturing solution on brain morphology in adult ants (Formica sp.)”

Quinnan is majoring in biomathematics at Scranton. He is working with his faculty mentor Amelia Randich Ph.D., assistant professor of biology, on his research project entitled “Characterizing Alphaproteobacteria and their cellular morphology.”

Sander is majoring in neuroscience at Scranton. She is working with her faculty mentor Rob Waldeck, Ph.D., associate professor and director of the neuroscience program, on her research project entitled “The telencephalon’s influence on startle response plasticity in goldfish.”

Yanni is majoring in neuroscience at Scranton. She is working with her faculty mentor Marc Seid, Ph.D., associate professor of biology, on her research project entitled “The effect of sleep deprivation on learning in Camponotus floridanus.”

Faculty members at Scranton often include undergraduate students in their academic projects. The University’s Faculty Student Research Program also supports undergraduate student participation in research. In addition, students participating in the University’s Honors Program and the Magis Honors Program in STEM work with faculty mentors on research projects.

Sanofi is a global pharmaceutical company that is involved in the research, development, marketing and manufacturing of various medicines and vaccines. Every year, Sanofi offers multiple grants to nonprofit organizations and educational institutions that are working to advance participation in STEM fields.

The Wright Center Receives $50,000 Federal Grant to Provide COVID-19 Testing to Underserved Populations

The Wright Center for Community Health announces it has been selected as a recipient of $50,000 in grant funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to improve access to COVID-19 testing for the region’s underserved and vulnerable populations, including rural residents.

The NIH made the funding available through its Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics-Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) initiative. Organizers of the federally supported project aim to ensure that all Americans, especially populations most affected by the pandemic, have access to COVID-19 testing.

The Wright Center plans to use the funding to deploy its mobile medical unit, called Driving Better Health, to expand testing availability in rural areas of Susquehanna and Wayne counties. The mobile unit also will build upon its current COVID-19 outreach in southern Luzerne County, serving residents of Greater Hazleton including its significant Spanish-speaking population.

Since March 2020, The Wright Center’s practices have conducted about 29,000 COVID-19 tests.

The Wright Center’s proposed grant-funded activities in Northeast Pennsylvania will be overseen by the RADx-UP Coordination and Data Collection Center (CDCC), led by the Duke Clinical Research Institute and the University of North Carolina School of Medicine’s Center for Health Equity Research.

The data – and the lessons – compiled during this RADx-UP CDCC Community Collaboration Mini-Grant Program will assist in bringing an end to the pandemic, addressing the nation’s long-standing health disparities and preparing for future public health challenges.

“The COVID-19 crisis is far from over,” according to information on the RADx-UP website. “Although vaccines are available for most people, testing remains a life-saving tool for many communities as the percentage of people who are vaccinated varies from place to place. Beyond the pandemic, the strategies public health leaders use to address testing (and vaccine) equity may inform how we address the larger structural inequalities and consequently improve health and save lives in the long term.”

Holiday Candles Arrive at Noteology

Holiday Candles are here!
Holiday candles are here!
Find your favorites. Love the classics.Try something new!
Image of Home for the Holidays Candle
Home for the Holidays Candle Juicy oranges, sweet persimmons, zest from ginger and a hint of Christmas pine give us all of the ‘Home for the Holidays’ feels in one festive candle.
Image of Balsam + Fir Candle
Balsam + Fir Candle A tried and true classic, our Balsam + Fir candle is a Christmas tree in a candle! Fraser fir, sweet balsam, and classic pine make this candle a fan favorite!
Image of Pomegranate Fig Candle
Pomegranate Fig Candle Sweet luscious notes of pomegranate and fig intertwined with orange peel, rhubarb and juicy bartlett pear. It’s been a staff favorite for the moment we poured it!
Image of Cranberry Clementine Candle
Cranberry Clementine Candle This one is juicy, fruity and citrus based from the clementine and sweet orange notes. The addition of cranberry gives it just the right amount of tartness for a bright holiday sparkle.

Shop all holiday candles at Noteology here.

JFSNEPA Receives Grant from Robert H. Spitz Foundation

Jewish Family Service of Northeastern Pennsylvania was one of the recent recipients of a grant from the Robert H. Spitz Foundation for the 2020 grant cycle. The grant in the amount of $15,000 will assist with General Operating Support for the organization. Grants from the Robert H. Spitz Foundation are administered by the Scranton Area Community Foundation.

Pictured in photo from left to right:, Arthur E. Levandoski, JFS Marketing & Development; Sheila Nudelman Abdo, ACSW, LCSW, JFS Executive Director; Laura Ducceschi, MBA, MA, President / CEO of the Scranton Area Community Foundation and administrator of Robert H. Spitz Foundation; Cathy Fitzpatrick, Grants Administrator for Scranton Area Community Foundation; Frank Caputo, Scranton Area Community Foundation Grants and Communication Coordinator.

LCEEC Announces Expansion of Conservation & Natural Resource Certificate Program

Conservation and Natural Resource students performing water sampling at Lacawac Sanctuary.

The Lackawanna College Environmental Education Center (LCEEC) has announced the addition of a spring session of the Conservation and Natural Resource (CNR) certificate program. The program is currently accepting applications and is set to begin on January 24, 2022, and will end on May 13, 2022.

During this 15-week accelerated program, students will complete five undergraduate-level field biology courses at the LCEEC located on 211-acres of diverse habitat in Covington Township, Pa.

The curriculum focuses on the conservation and interpretation of our natural environment. The program includes instruction in environmental interpretation, wildlife management, freshwater ecosystems, dendrology, and ornithology. Students will also experience both classroom and hands-on field training throughout the program.

The CNR certificate is appropriate for anyone seeking a career as a park ranger or in a related field. Students may also take individual courses. Courses are transferable into two or four-year degree programs. Upon graduation, students will receive a CNR certificate and transcripts of their undergraduate coursework.

Applications are currently being accepted for the Spring 2022 semester and financial aid is available. The CNR program is also approved for WIOA funding for displaced workers or individuals with high financial needs. Please call PA Career Link for Lackawanna County to verify WIOA funding eligibility.

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

Marywood Architecture Students Design Exciting New Bus Shelters

On November 12, Marywood School of Architecture students presented designs for new bus shelters to representatives from COLTS, Lackawanna County’s transit system. Above, students share their experiences riding the county’s bus lines with new COLTS Director Tim McGrath.
Student Rachel Knuuti’s design for a busy intersection in Minooka includes a safer pickup point and a lane for food trucks.
Chris Salisbury’s urban forest would be centrally located on Mulberry Street at the University of Scranton.
Miranda Smith presents her innovative use of rail ties to create a much safer bus shelter in front of the Radisson Lackawanna Station hotel.
Many of the designs included electrical vehicle charging stations to increase utility and attract new ridership. Matthew Davis’s design included a peaceful waterfall at a proposed new stop at Green Ridge Senior Apartments.
Nicholas Biser’s circus tent-inspired bus shelter at Gerrity’s on Keyser Ave included a park and play area.