WVIA Announces New Chief Financial Officer and General Counsel

WVIA Announces Kristen Mackrell Clark as New Chief Financial Officer and General Counsel

WVIA, the PBS and NPR affiliate for northeastern and central Pennsylvania, has announced Kristen Mackrell Clark Esq. as the organization’s new Chief Financial Officer and General Counsel.

Kristen comes to WVIA from Myers, Brier, & Kelly, LLP where she served as an attorney representing educational institutions and non-profit organizations. While there she focused on helping clients with corporate governance, business planning, tax planning, and individual and corporate tax audits.

Prior to working for Myers, Brier, & Kelly, LLP, Clark worked as a Certified Public Accountant specializing in individual and corporate taxation. Kristen has been honored by her peers every year since 2018 as a Pennsylvania Super Lawyers Rising Star and in 2015, she was recognized as a Top 20 Under 40 Business Professional by the Northeast Pennsylvania Business Journal.

She attained her Juris Doctor from Temple University Beasley School of Law, Master of Accountancy from the George Washington University, and graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Business Administration from the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame.

“We are extremely fortunate to have a team member with such a unique combination of skills,” said Carla McCabe, WVIA President, and CEO, “Hiring Kristen in this critical leadership role demonstrates our ability to once again attract top talent at WVIA who want to be a part of our exciting future.”

“I am thrilled to be joining the dynamic leadership team at WVIA,” Clark said. “I look forward to using my legal and accounting experience to serve in the dual role of Chief Financial Officer and General Counsel. Carla and her team are building something exciting at WVIA, and I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of strengthening this community treasure for our region.”

Boback Leads Hearing on Pennsylvania’s EMS Crisis

Rep. Karen Boback (R-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Wyoming), majority chairman of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, on Tuesday convened a public hearing to examine Pennsylvania’s emergency medical services (EMS) crisis.

The committee heard from stakeholder groups about the recruitment and retention of personnel, financial needs, billing constraints, hospital emergency room protocols, local government support initiatives and COVID-19 challenges to the EMS system.

“Due to their funding needs, manpower shortages and low reimbursement rates by government programs and insurers, Pennsylvania’s EMS system is in crisis,” said Boback. “We are learning what is at stake if things do not change and what the Legislature can do to improve the EMS system.”

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, there are about 1,300 licensed EMS agencies in the Commonwealth and over 40,000 certified EMS providers. The EMS system responded to nearly 2.5 million calls for service during 2021.

However, committee members heard how the system is failing and putting the lives of Pennsylvania residents at risk.

“Thanks to many factors, now exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19 on transport volume, costs, staffing and more, these financial struggles have become dire,” Donald DeReamus, Ambulance Association of Pennsylvania board member told them. “Our organizations and clinicians are on the brink, just months, weeks, or even days from insolvency.”

Recruitment and retention: Many EMTs are choosing to not renew their certification.  

“The number of EMTs that allow their certifications to expire and ultimately leave the profession continues to outpace those becoming certified,” said Aaron Rhone, Pennsylvania Department of Health Bureau of Emergency Medical Services interim director.

Financial needs: EMS agencies need a universal sustainable funding mechanism.

“Reimbursement fails miserably in covering the cost of readiness as well as the cost of EMS operations,” said DeReamus. “Since 2002, after implementation of the Medicare Ambulance Fee Schedule, costs have risen 70% while reimbursement rates have risen only 27% during the same period.”

Billing constraints: Legislation is needed to provide local governments with the ability to increase fees.

“Amending the statute to allow three mills for EMS and removing the current barriers required to increase the allowable mills for EMS funding to be consistent with the fire service will greatly improve flexibility and provide municipalities with an additional tool to provide EMS services for their communities,” noted Anthony Deaven, Pennsylvania Fire and Emergency Services Institute board member. 

Hospital emergency room protocols: Changes are needed to reduce wait times for EMS crews.

“EMTs and paramedics often wait in a hall with their ambulance patient for several hours until and emergency room charge nurse finally takes custody of the patient and releases the ambulance,” testified West Hempfield Township Manager Andrew Stern. “While the crew is being ‘held hostage,’ they are unavailable to respond to any other emergencies, even if more emergent than the current patient.”

Local government support initiatives: Senate Bill 698 would allow for the creation of countywide public safety authorities.

“Counties recognize and respect the need for local input and decision making and believe Senate Bill 698 protects that autonomy while more efficiently providing for our residents,” said Tioga County Commissioner Mark Hamilton. “To be clear, counties are not seeking to take over the responsibility for EMS.”

COVID-19 challenges: The pandemic has made recruitment and retention efforts more difficult.

“Since COVID-19 began, EMS workers have left the field to seek non-medical careers or employment in different areas of public service,” explained Gary Vinnacombe, West Grove Fire Company EMS manager.

Boback called the four-hour hearing “very informative,” and said the committee will be working on legislative solutions to the EMS crisis.

“It’s clear that our EMS services face multiple challenges that demand our attention and support more than ever,” she concluded.

A video recording of the hearing is available for viewing at www.RepBoback.com/video.

Johnson College’s next 285-Hour CNC Operator Training Course is Now Enrolling Students

Johnson College’s Continuing Education Program is enrolling students in its next 285-hour Computer Numerical Control Operator training scheduled to run Mondays through Thursdays from April 25 to July 25, 2022, on the Johnson College campus in Scranton. The total cost of the 285-hour training is $4,200, and payment options are available. For more information or to register, visit Johnson.edu/continuingeducation or contact Johnson College’s Continuing Education department at 570-702-8979 or continuinged@johnson.edu.

This 285-hour Computer Numerical Control Operator certificate program is designed for individuals looking to enter the high-demand machining field. The training covers theory and hands-on practice of conventional and computer machining operations. The course also covers shop and machine safety, blueprint reading, measuring instrument care and use, as well as math.

Johnson College provides real-world, hands-on learning in a supportive environment and prepares graduates to enter into or advance their careers. Johnson College degrees become essential careers. Johnson College was founded in 1912 and is the region’s only technical college, offering 17 associate degree and 4 academic certificate programs. A low student-to-instructor ratio supports an emphasis on hands-on learning. Located in Scranton on a 44-acre campus, the College is an accredited, private, non-profit, co-educational institution with a strong tradition of working with regional businesses and industries to ensure a skilled and qualified workforce. For additional information on Johnson College, please call 1-800-2-WE-WORK, email enroll@johnson.edu, or visit Johnson.edu.

Quandel Employee Named KCA’s Top Young Leader

Sarah Knehr, CHC, senior project manager with Harrisburg-based construction firm, Quandel Construction Group, was named Keystone Contractors Association’s Top Young Leader.

Knehr has served in the construction industry since 2010 and has been a valuable member of the Quandel team. She started as an assistant project manager with Quandel and worked diligently to advance her skillset through hard work and a commitment to succeed. In her current role as seniorproject manager, Knehr is responsible for the overall success of the project and is the point of contact for clients, architects, engineers, and subcontractors. As a Certified Healthcare Constructor (CHC), Knehr’s primary market sector focus is healthcare, where she has excelled with clients such as Geisinger Health System and UPMC.

“I am very excited to be recognized as one of the area’s top young leaders and to show case what women in construction can accomplish. It is my hope that more young people can be encouraged to pursue careers in construction and take on leadership roles,” stated Sarah.

One of the largest projects Sarah was a part of was the new $115 million UPMC Pinnacle – Memorial Hospital, in York, Pennsylvania, completed in 2019. She also managed the UPMC Children’s Hospital renovation at Harrisburg Campus, which received the Excellence in Construction award from Associated Builders and Contractor’s Keystone Chapter.

“Her skills in running efficient and timely projects have made her one of our top project managers, administering project management activities and working closely with our onsite staff specifically on our healthcare projects. Sarah’s leadership abilities have gained respect from many who she has interacted with over the years,” stated Eric Hellman, vice president of operations.

“Sarah’s technical competency and soft skills have made her a leader in our healthcare market. Her attention to detail, commitment to deadlines, and willingness to participate and contribute to project pursuits are commendable. Owners and team members alike know that when they ask something of her, it gets done. She embodies Quandel’s purpose to lead, make a difference, and build a better future,” added Mike Karcutskie, president of Quandel Construction Group, LLC.

Along with her project responsibility and client relationships, Knehr gives back to the construction industry and local community. She goes far beyond the performance of her project duties by remaining active in industry and community service efforts. Knehr participated in the ACE Mentor Program of America as a mentor and is now team leader because of the invaluable help and assistance she received from her own mentors while in high school. In addition to leading a team of students, she also helps organize the Dauphin County program of the ACE Mentor Program in Central PA. Continuing to excel as a woman in construction, Knehr was also one of the women spotlighted by the Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania for National STEM Day where she was able to share first-hand her thoughts about her STEM Career.

PennDOT Announces Municipal Funding, Discusses Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Local Road and Bridge Needs

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS) today discussed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) as well as local-governments’ road and bridge needs and investment options.

PennDOT has also committed $455.9 million in liquid fuels payments to help certified municipalities maintain their roads and bridges, approximately 1 percent more than last year.

“We have the fifth-largest state-maintained road system in the country, and the locally owned roadway network is even larger,” PennDOT Deputy Secretary for Planning Larry Shifflet said. “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s bridge funding will help with some local bridges, but we need to leverage all available state and local-funding solutions to help our municipalities.”

There are 120,596 miles of public roads in Pennsylvania. Some 2,560 municipalities manage an estimated 78,000 linear miles of roadway and more than 6,600 bridges longer than 20 feet.

“We appreciate that PennDOT recognizes that local government is an important partner of the transportation network in Pennsylvania, being responsible for 2/3 of the road miles in the Commonwealth,” said PSATS Executive Director David Sanko. “This liquid fuels distribution is an integral part of local funding, but by no means enough to cover the costs, of building and maintaining our portion of the network.”

In addition to identifying state transportation needs, Governor Tom Wolf’s Transportation Revenue Options Commission outlined that the unmet funding need on locally owned roads and bridges is estimated to be nearly $3.9 billion per year, growing to $5.1 billion annually by 2030. This is in addition to the dedicated local funding municipalities receive from PennDOT through previous legislation and approximately 13.5 percent of annual gas tax revenues.

While Pennsylvania will receive $1.6 billion in new bridge funds – with 15 percent committed to “off-system” local bridges – from the federal BIL, state and locally based solutions are needed. In addition to PennDOT’s annual liquid fuels distribution, grant opportunities, and the BIL benefits, local officials can act on options available to them.

For example, counties can implement a $5 fee for each vehicle registered to an address within the county and use the funds on locally owned infrastructure. To date, 27 counties have implemented this fee. From December 2015 through December 2021, $180.8 million has been collected and distributed to the respective counties.

Additionally, local governments and other eligible entities may apply for low-interest loans from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Bank which helps fund and accelerate transportation projects as well as spur economic development.

PennDOT’s annual liquid fuels distributions assist with municipalities’ highway and bridge-related expenses such as snow removal and road repaving. There are 73,141 miles owned by municipalities and eligible for liquid fuels. The formula for payments is based on a municipality’s population and miles of locally-owned roads.

Act 89 of 2013 made more funding available for locally owned roadways. Before the law, municipalities received $320.8 million in liquid fuels payments.

To be eligible for liquid fuels, a roadway must be formally adopted as a public street by the municipality, meet certain dimension requirements, and be able to safely accommodate vehicles driving at least 15 mph.

For the complete list of local payments, visit PennDOT’s Municipal Liquid Fuels Program page.

MEDIA CONTACT: Erin Waters-Trasatt or Alexis Campbell, 717-783-8800

RailRiders Set Custom Jersey Nights For 2022 Season

As the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders prepare for the 2022 season, the team is pleased to unveil its custom jersey nights slated for the upcoming schedule. The season begins on the road on April 5 with the home opener one week later at PNC Field. In addition to the daily promotions already announced, the RailRiders will wear five custom jerseys this season and each will be auctioned off to benefit local charities.

As part of a celebration of our Armed Forces, SWB will wear red, white and blue tops over Memorial Day weekend. The players will wear these jerseys again in July and the custom tops will be auctioned off over Independence weekend.

Villains be warned! Marvel’s Defenders of the Diamond Night is June 3 at PNC Field. The RailRiders will wear custom Captain America-themed jerseys plus Captain America himself will be patrolling the concourse.

Pride Night is slated for June 16 with a jersey auction after that Thirsty Thursday game.

Paradise is found at PNC Field on July 15. That RailRiders will once again wear Margaritaville-inspired Hawaiian jerseys. Waste away and search for that lost shaker of salt with us and be sure the fireworks are to blame after the final out.

Calling all Super Heros! The RailRiders return to Marvel Universe on August 6 with custom Thor jerseys. The Asgardian God of Thunder will also make a guest appearance on the concourse for fan photos.

All jersey auctions in 2022 will be online through the Minor League Baseball auction site.

Ticket memberships, including full, half and partial season plans, as well as a wide range of mini-plans, are on sale now and single-game tickets are available online at swbrailriders.com beginning at 10 A.M. on March 8.

Johnson College to Host Open House

Johnson College will hold an in-person Open House on its campus in Scranton on Saturday, March 26, 2022, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. To register for the Open House, visit Johnson.edu/openhouse or contact Johnson College’s Enrollment Department at 570-702-8856 or enroll@johnson.edu.

Open House will include discussions about the admissions process, information about financial aid for those who qualify, and student services such as student life, student support, and career services. Plus, same-day acceptance will be available for many programs if students bring their high school or college transcripts. Tours of each technical area will be conducted and department chairs will be available to review the specifics of their programs. CDC guidelines will be implemented.

Johnson College provides real-world, hands-on learning in a supportive environment and prepares graduates to enter into or advance their careers. Johnson College degrees become essential careers. Johnson College was founded in 1912 and is the region’s only technical college, offering 17 associate degree and 4 academic certificate programs. A low student-to-instructor ratio supports an emphasis on hands-on learning. Located in Scranton on a 44-acre campus, the College is an accredited, private, non-profit, co-educational institution with a strong tradition of working with regional businesses and industries to ensure a skilled and qualified workforce. For additional information on Johnson College, please call 1-800-2-WE-WORK, email enroll@johnson.edu, or visit Johnson.edu.

Tobyhanna Celebrates Employees During Engineers Week

Tobyhanna Army Depot observed Engineers Week from February 20-26 by shining a spotlight on some of its outstanding engineers.

Founded in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers, the observance brings attention to the skills and contributions of engineers worldwide. Tobyhanna employs more than 300 engineers in a variety of disciplines, including chemical; civil; computer; electrical; electronics; industrial; mechanical; and software engineering.

Civil Engineer Nicolas Stoker

Civil Engineer Nicolas Stoker of the Installation Services Directorate plays an important role for Team Tobyhanna. The depot newcomer leads the Sustainment, Restoration and Modernization team and currently manages more than $40M in modernization projects across the depot – within the gates and beyond.

A lifelong interest in construction led Stoker to the field of civil engineering, which encompasses a variety of infrastructure services such as utilities, water, and wastewater services.

“Most people don’t realize that civil engineers build far more than bridges and roads,” he said, adding that his position with Team Tobyhanna is truly gratifying.

“While construction projects are never easy, I appreciate reaching the end goal, which is making sure everyone on Team Tobyhanna can do their jobs. It is satisfying to see an empty warehouse transform into a state-of-the-art facility that supports our mission and, ultimately, the warfighter.”

Stoker is no stranger to military processes after attending the Military College of South Carolina –more commonly known as The Citadel – as a civilian to earn his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. He says the experience was invaluable.

“Attending The Citadel helped shape me as a team member and a person.”

Stoker’s teammates applauded his contributions to the team and Tobyhanna’s mission.

“Nic is a one of the most focused, diligent, organized, attentive, and driven engineers I have ever worked with. He motivates other members of the team and sets a good example for other engineers as well as technicians,” said Chris Sheerer, chief of the Site Installation and Satellite Communication Engineering branch in the Production Engineering Directorate.

Mechanical Engineer Jenny Battenberg also earned accolades for her technical skill, tenacity and passion.

“Jenny is hardworking, dedicated to her programs and strong-willed. She is not afraid to say how she feels about something and I admire that in her. I am thankful to call her a teammate,” said Nathan Thomas, deputy director of Production Engineering.

As a young person, Battenberg did not aspire to a career in mechanical engineering. Unsure of her long-term goals, she applied and was accepted to Walt Disney World’s (WDW’s) intern program – an experience that taught her lessons she uses today.

Fabrication Engineers like Jenny Battenberg perform work on-site at locations around the world, like this one in Italy.

“Working at WDW was an adventure and everything they do comes down to design – just like my job at Tobyhanna. I remember being amazed at how carefully they planned swapping out holiday décor at the park. Inspired by their ingenuity, I’ve used similar strategies when managing my own projects.”

Battenberg currently supports a variety of fabrication-focused engineering projects, which require her to travel to exotic locates like Japan, Iceland and the United Arab Emirates. Many of the programs have grown after customers responded positively to the impressive engineering support provided by Battenberg and her team.

When asked about the key to her success, Battenberg says the answer is simple.

“I have great co-workers,” she said, laughing. “I also believe that it is important to be honest, have humility, and be open to feedback.”

In her spare time, Jenny enjoys exploring her creative side through interior design and crafting. She also enjoys baking and cooking – skills passed down through the strong and impactful women in her family.

Outstanding Electrical Engineers like Jason Metzger play an integral role in supporting C5ISR readiness for America’s warfighters, according to Chip Tracewski.

“Jason has been critical to the success of the satellite communications programs he supports,” he said. “His calm demeanor and attitude toward supporting his customers are a valuable asset to Tobyhanna Army Depot.” Tracewski leads the Production Engineering Directorate’s C4 & Logistics Engineering Division.

Electrical Engineer Jason Metzger

A graduate of Penn State, Metzger started his depot career in 2004 as an electronics worker on the production floor and spent four years repairing avionics equipment. Although he was not working in his degreed field, Metzger says the experience was beneficial nonetheless.

“There is often a disconnect between production shops and their support teams. Working on both sides has helped me better understand the needs of my customers,” adding that he tries to use this experiential knowledge to educate the general depot population.

“One thing I wish everyone knew was that even though their requests seem easy to complete, engineering-related tasks are often more time-consuming and complex than you would think. Helping Team Tobyhanna understand why we do what we do is key.”

Metzger’s cross-functional experience also includes time working in the Strategic Initiatives Office, learning about the depot activation and business development processes. In addition, he participated in a nanofabrication educational program at Penn State.

Metzger’s co-workers say he is a true asset to Team Tobyhanna.

“I’ve had the good fortune of working alongside Jason for many years. He is an extremely conscientious and professional engineer who possesses exceptional technical skills that allow him to quickly solve problems and effectively bridge the gap between the theoretical and practical sides of engineering,” said Thomas Ondrey, an electronics engineer in the Production Engineering Directorate.

While Metzger appreciates the accolades, he noted that none of his success was accomplished alone.

“I owe it all to the amazing team I work with every day.”

In his free time, Jason enjoys spending time with family, his two dogs, and being outdoors.

The technical expertise of Team Tobyhanna’s engineers is integral to its mission and long-range strategic plan, TOBY2028, which has four focus areas: Investing in Our People, C5ISR Readiness, Shape the Future and Strategic Communications. TOBY2028 aims to posture the depot for success in the coming years as the Department of Defense’s premier worldwide C5ISR readiness provider.

Wright Center Will Hold COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic

The Wright Center for Community Health’s 34-foot Driving Better Health mobile medical unit.

The Wright Center for Community Health is holding a Driving Better Health COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic at St. Francis Commons, 504 Penn Ave., Scranton, on Thursday, March 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Driving Better Health is a 34-foot mobile medical unit that brings high-quality health care services directly to the underserved communities of Northeast Pennsylvania. The mobile medical unit has been serving populations of special concern since 2020. It is regularly deployed to senior living centers, regional schools, homeless shelters and other community gathering spots.

COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are available for anybody age 5 and up. A guardian must accompany patients who are younger than 17. Walk-up appointments are welcome depending on vaccine availability, but appointments are encouraged for the convenience of patients. Please go to TheWrightCenter.org or call 570-230-0019 to schedule an appointment.

The Wright Center for Community Health clinical staff will also offer COVID-19 testing and flu vaccines at the clinic.

Guests are asked to observe public safety measures, including masking and social distancing, during the clinic and bring identification and insurance cards.