PennDOT Honors Employees for Innovative Ideas

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) today recognized 48 PennDOT employees with Innovation Awards for their efforts to improve work practices and create efficiencies. One team member from PennDOT’s District 4 which represents Lackawanna, Luzerne, Pike, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming counties were among the honorees.

“PennDOT has a strong legacy of creativity to help us meet our daily mission and goals,” said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. “I’m proud to recognize these employees for their creativity and dedication to the department.”

Employees were recognized for ideas and smart practices submitted through IdeaLink 20/20 and PennDOT WorkSmart, online employee engagement systems that allow employees to share their ideas and efficient work practices. Over the last decade, PennDOT employees have submitted approximately 3,700 ideas through IdeaLink, nearly a quarter of which have been implemented. Since 2016, approximately 240 smart practices have been published in PennDOT’s WorkSmart system.

Gramian and other department executives honored winner Dawn Foley during an virtual ceremony. Foley was recognized for mapping District 4’s Invoice Payment Process for non-ECMS Vendors. Project teams now have a clearer view of responsibilities, processes, and timelines to be followed.

“Dawn has truly excelled in her service to the travelling public in northeast Pennsylvania.  She is a valued team member within our organization and works at a very high level everyday” said Richard Roman, P.E.,  District Executive for PennDOT Engineering District 4.

Motorists can check conditions on major roadway miles by visiting 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information, and access to more than 1,000 traffic cameras.

511PA is also available through a smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by calling 5-1-1, or by following regional Twitter alerts accessible on the 511PA website.

Subscribe to PennDOT news and traffic alerts in Lackawanna, Luzerne, Pike, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming counties at

Information about infrastructure in District 4, including completed work and significant projects, is available at

Follow local PennDOT news on Twitter and like the department on Facebook and Instagram.

Northeast Regional Cancer Institute Receives Donation

The Plains Township Police Department collaborated with Futuristic Innovative Graphics in Kingston to specially design t-shirts as a breast cancer awareness fundraiser in October 2021. They raised $1,462.66 to support the Northeast Regional Cancer Institute, a local organization focused on easing the burden of cancer in northeastern Pennsylvania. It was important to the organizers to keep the proceeds local. This is the second year of this fundraiser.

Community members were able to purchase t-shirts online through Futuristic Innovative Graphics website. The fundraiser was promoted on social media through the police department, graphics company and the Cancer Institute’s designated pages. The Plains Township Police Department plan to host this fundraiser again in fall 2022.  

Wright Center’s Associate Director Elected a Fellow of the American College of Physicians

Dr. Mark Madhok, associate program director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program at The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education, has been elected a fellow of the American College of Physicians (ACP).

ACP fellows are a distinguished group of doctors dedicated to continuing education in medical practice, teaching and research. More than 31,000 physicians have earned this mark of distinction since 1975. It represents the pinnacle of integrity, professionalism and scholarship for those who aspire to pursue careers in internal medicine, according to the college.

“The Wright Center is extremely proud of Dr. Madhok’s accomplishments and dedication to the advancement of his resident physicians and patients in Northeast Pennsylvania,” said Dr. Jumee Barooah, designated institutional official of The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education. “His contributions to the field of medicine extends to his noted scholarly research and broader community involvement.”

A board-certified internal medicine physician, Madhok also is a primary care and internal medicine physician at the Scranton and Scranton Counseling Center practices. In addition, he is a clinical associate professor of medicine at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine and an adjunct clinical associate professor of medicine at the School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona, A.T. Still University.

“The FACP status that you now hold reflects your commitment and accomplishments within the internal medicine community,” Dr. Saba A. Hasan, chair of the ACP Credentials Committee, wrote to Madhok.

For more information about The Wright Centers for Community Health and Graduate Medical Education, call 570.343.2383 or go to   

Geisinger Supply Chain Receives Top 25 Recognition From Gartner

Geisinger has ranked 16th among the Gartner Healthcare Supply Chain Top 25 for 2021. The Gartner Healthcare Supply Chain Top 25 identifies, celebrates and profiles health systems that demonstrated excellence in supply chain management over the past year. This year’s ranking included looking at a system’s ability to effectively navigate the post-pandemic landscape. This recognition includes influence from Geisinger’s quality outcomes, as well as its financial performance.

“The issues facing supply chains have been prominent in the media lately. Multiple factors, like those caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, have affected how a supply chain functions. This is a significant recognition that Geisinger previously received in 2014,” says Kate Polczynski, vice president of enterprise supply chain services. “To be included in a listing with other prominent leaders within the healthcare supply chain community, especially during a pandemic crisis, is a testament to the dedication and impactful work of our Geisinger teams.”

Managing Geisinger’s supply chain is complex, leveraging talented teammates, effective processes and technology-driven decision-making to anticipate, plan for and execute in support of Geisinger.  

“I see inclusion in Gartner’s Top 25 as a recognition for all of Geisinger,” says Polczynski. “We’ve worked hard to build an integrated supply chain that partners and collaborates with our internal customers to ensure supply chain decisions are made with patient outcomes, quality and cost in mind. Working together, we have built a supply chain that is a leader in the healthcare industry, delivering precision execution to support the Geisinger family in caring for our patients and the community we are so fortunate to serve.”

Special Ticket Offer for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Fans

As a fan of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the Pittsburgh Penguins are excited to offer you special group pricing for Sunday, January 30 when we host the Los Angeles Kings at 1:00 PM at PPG Paints Arena:

FedEx Level: $75 per ticket
Giant Eagle | Snapple Level: $50 per ticket

To get started, select your preferred seating level. And to get game ready, please be aware of the following safety enhancements to the PPG Paints Arena fan experience:

In an effort to ensure a ticketing experience that is more convenient, safe and secure for all Penguins fans, guests must present a mobile ticket on a smartphone for game entry. Fans can access their digital tickets via My Penguins Account or the Penguins app using the email address provided during the purchase process. Screenshots and print outs will not be accepted.

Bags are not permitted in PPG Paints Arena. Exceptions, after inspection, will be made for medical bags, diaper bags, and wristlets or wallets no larger than 8″x5″x1″.

PPG Paints Arena is a cashless venue. Credit and debit cards as well as Apple/Google Pay are accepted. Reverse ATMs are available to convert cash to a pre-paid Visa card.

To make the most of your game day experience, be sure to download the Penguins app for online ticket management, mobile concession ordering, game previews and more!

Have questions? Please contact Danny Gardner at 412-255-1883 or

PennDOT Extends Deadline for ‘Innovations Challenge’

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) today announced that the deadline for the fifth annual Innovations Challenge has been extended through Friday, January 21, 2022.

Students in grades 9-12, regardless of their school’s learning model, are invited to participate in this year’s Innovations Challenge, which encourages students to use their problem-solving, creative and strategic-thinking abilities to solve real-world transportation challenges in a competition among their peers.

Taking Pennsylvania’s diverse demographics into consideration, this year’s Innovations Challenge asks students to develop a comprehensive and cost-effective public engagement strategy, beyond the current public engagement procedures (outlined in Publication 295) that uses innovative technologies and tools that PennDOT can implement to more effectively engage and connect with all age groups during the transportation planning and project development process. 

Regional challenge winners will be selected and invited to compete for the state championship, which will be held in spring 2022.

For this year’s challenge, the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors (APC) has donated $2,500 and the American Council of Engineering Companies of PA (ACEC/PA) has donated $1,500 for a combined total award of $4,000 for this year’s first place team.

The Innovations Challenge aims to not only help students explore real transportation challenges that PennDOT is facing, but also open their minds to the very real possibility of working for PennDOT or in the transportation industry after graduation.

For complete details, visit the Innovation Challenge webpage at Again, the submission deadline has been extended through Friday, January 21, 2022.

Johnson College’s Computer Numerical Control Machining Training Now Accepting Students

In conjunction with Don’s Machine Shop in West Pittston, Johnson College is now accepting students for its next Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Machining training in Luzerne County. The course begins Monday, January 24, 2022. During this course, students will train to program and utilize CNC machines. Students complete all class and lab work inside Don’s Machine Shop’s classroom and lab at 100 Elm Street, West Pittston. 

The cost for the CNC training class is $7,500, and funding sources may be available for those who qualify. Space is limited. To learn more or enroll, contact the Johnson College Continuing Education Department at 570-702-8979 or

The relationship with Don’s Machine Shop truly demonstrates Johnson College’s dedication to making industry our students’ campus. This 510-hour class for beginner-level students includes theory and practical learning methods. Students will receive hands-on training on some of the most state-of-the-art equipment in the region. This unique training experience will open new career opportunities right away. 

Industries throughout northeastern Pennsylvania are currently in need of well-trained CNC machinists.

CNC machinists manufacture precision products and components used in various applications such as automotive, medical, electronics, aerospace, transportation, and military-related industries. Per the Bureau of Labor Statics, metal and plastic machine workers, including CNC Machinists, can earn a median annual income of up to $38,270. 

For additional information on Johnson College’s Continuing Education Program, please call 570-702-8979, email, or visit

Penn State Scranton’s Center for Business Development and Community Outreach Accepting Online Registrations

Penn State Scranton’s Center for Business Development and Community Outreach is currently accepting online registrations for the following:

Operations and Supply Chain Professionals:
ASCM® has developed a comprehensive educational program designed for operations and supply chain professionals, and the northeastern PA campuses of Penn State University are collaborating to offer these prep programs to prepare individuals to take the certification exams for Certified Production and Inventory Management (CPIM);  Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP); or Certified in Logistics Transportation and Distribution (CLTD).  Classes begin in January 2022.

Professional Engineering:
Mechanical Engineering PE Exam Review – Machine Design & Materials is scheduled on Wednesdays, February 9 – April 27, 2022, live instruction via Zoom. This Professional Engineering Review course will cover the Machine Design & Materials Specification for the Mechanical Engineering PE Exam.

Building Systems – Design & Construction:
The first of four classes to earn a non-credit certificate in Building Systems – Design & Construction. Scheduling & Time Management in Construction will teach students how to think about the construction project as hand and to build a project specific schedule. Topics include: New Construction, Renovation Projects, Pre-Construction and Time Management. Live instruction via Zoom classroom on Wednesdays, 6 pm – 9 pm from March 16 – April 27, 2022.

For more information, contact 570-963-2600 or email

The Wright Center Shares Tips for the Winter Season

The winter of 2020-21 will not soon be forgotten. Not only was Northeast Pennsylvania coming to grips with the global COVID-19 pandemic, but we also were shoveling, salting and cindering seemingly nonstop due to heavy snow, sleet and ice. It was a winter to remember, or dare I say – forget.

A year later, COVID-19 and its variants continue to make us behave cautiously, while we also prepare for wintry weather and how the global pandemic has affected the rest of our lives. There is little we can do to ward off eventual snow and slick roadways and sidewalks other than to stockpile cinders and rock salt, and make sure our shovels are handy and fresh gasoline is in our snowblowers and generators.

The supply chain disruption that is fueling inflation and shortages in various products, though, will be felt a little more during the winter months. Sharply higher gasoline, electric, heating oil and natural gas bills will hit consumers in the wallet just as we’re preparing to pay off our holiday shopping sprees.

As a registered and licensed dietitian and nutritionist for The Wright Center for Community Health’s Lifestyle Medicine Program, I have a few tips to keep you warmer, safer and healthier as you turn your thermostats down a few degrees to save on energy bills or pick up a shovel to help family and neighbors dig out of another near-record snowfall.

It is important to remember the following are just tips for overall wellness and prevention of injury during cold weather months and related weather events. My tips include:

Maintain adequate hydration: Stretch your back and legs in preparation for strenuous exercise before donning your winter gear and reaching for that snow shovel. Just as important, though, is hydration. Research has shown that cold weather alters our thirst mechanism, which results in the decrease of fluid intake and eventually, dehydration. It is important to maintain your hydration level, especially when you are outside carrying firewood, clearing an ice dam in rain gutters or performing any seasonal activity. Consuming regular water remains one of the best ways to keep hydrated.

Wear layers: Layers of light, warm clothing underneath a windproof winter coat will do wonders for your mindset as you struggle to clear driveways and walkways – or enjoy outside activities with kids. The importance of proper headwear and footwear also cannot be understated. They work in tandem to keep you warm and dry, preventing heat loss, hypothermia and even frostbite from setting in. Remember: A good winter hat keeps a cap on your body’s heat!

Plan ahead: Be prepared for weather-related emergencies, including power outages. Stockpile bottled water and nonperishable food that cannot be spoiled by lack of refrigeration. You never know how long you may be without power during a winter storm. Do not forget the importance of storing shelf-stable foods. Keep a variety of fruit and nut bars, aseptic packaged beverages, vacuum sealed proteins, dried fruits and pickled vegetables.

Keep an up-to-date emergency kit: An emergency kit should be a staple in every home and vehicle. It includes extra batteries, a flashlight, weather radio, first-aid kit, cell phone and extra medicine. You should adjust this list based on your individual needs, especially if you are on a regular regimen of medication.

Plan before you travel: Winter is also a season filled with travel to friends and family due to the holidays. For safety’s sake, it is important to be aware of current and forecast weather conditions. Avoid travel when the National Weather Service has issued advisories. If you must travel, inform a friend or relative of your proposed route and expected time of arrival.

Be a good neighbor: Everyone knows a friend, relative or neighbor who needs a special hand during the winter months. Check on those who are especially at risk from cold weather hazards, such as young children, older adults and the chronically ill. Also, if you have pets bring them inside or provide them with adequate warm shelter and unfrozen water to drink.

No one can stop the onset of winter. However, if you follow these suggestions, you will be ready when it arrives.

Walter Wanas, LDN, a licensed dietitian nutritionist, is director of lifestyle modification and preventive medicine for The Wright Center for Community Health’s Lifestyle Medicine Program.