Swift Kennedy Hires Employee Benefits Advisor

Chris Kelly has been hired as an employee benefits advisor at the Scranton branch of Swift Kennedy & Associates, an insurance brokerage firm specializing in group employee benefits and senior insurance plans.  In this position, he will provide clients with benefit plans that are tailored to fit their needs and solutions to complex insurance issues.

Before joining Swift Kennedy, Kelly was a financial professional at 1847Financial and a benefits specialist at American Income Life, where he provided clients in northeastern Pennsylvania with life, accident, and disability coverage. He has also worked as an ISA Certified Arborist in the tree and plant care field.  In addition, he has served as a youth pastor at his local church and as a trustee of a non-profit organization that helps inner-city teenagers.

Kelly graduated from Clarks Summit University in 2002 and has been a resident of northeastern Pennsylvania for over 20 years.

SWB RailRiders Updates 2022 Promotions

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders are thrilled to announce the addition of an Aaron Judge Emojihead and a Nestor Cortes bobblehead/ bobbleleg to their 2022 promotional schedule. In addition, the club has added details on Nurse Appreciation Night, a new WWE theme night, an additional fireworks show and has rescheduled two giveaway items on the upcoming slate.

Presented by Geisinger, the RailRiders will give away an Aaron Judge Emojihead to the first 2,500 fans on Saturday, July 18, at PNC Field. Gates open at 5 P.M. with a first pitch scheduled for 6:05 against the Rochester Red Wings. It is also Youth Baseball & Softball Night, adding to a fun evening for all.

On Saturday, September 3, Nestor Cortes will be honored with a giveaway. This soon-to-be collector’s item is both a bobblehead AND bobbleleg to best pay tribute to his wide array of motions on the mound. Don’t let your timing get thrown off and make sure you are one of the first 2,500 fans at PNC Field with gates open at 5 P.M. The Cortes bobble is presented by FOX 56.

During the upcoming homestand, the RailRiders are offering a Nurse Appreciation Night ticket discount for the May 12 game. Local nurses can save 25% by using the promo code NURSE when purchasing Field Reserved tickets for our next Thirsty Thursday game against the Syracuse Mets as a gesture of gratitude for all that they do.

May 12 is also WWE Night with a chance to win FREE tickets to SMACKDOWN on May 13 at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. Come dressed as your favorite wrestler for your chance to win! Plus… fans in attendance will have the chance to win SMACKDOWN tickets and WWE merchandise throughout the night.

The RailRiders will start Friday Night Fireworks two weeks early with an added show on May 13. Gates are set for 5:30 P.M. for our next First Responder Friday with a 6:35 first pitch. Stick around after the final for the best pyrotechnics show in NEPA.

The SWB Fidget Popper giveaway, which was slated for the postponed April 16 game, has been rescheduled for Saturday, May 14. Gates will open at 3 P.M. before the 4:05 game.

Friday Night Fireworks continue on May 27 with a show presented by Harth Enterprises and will follow every Friday home game for the remainder of the season.

The SWB Pop Socket has been rescheduled for Saturday, July 2. The RailRiders host Buffalo that evening, which will serve as the team’s Independence Weekend Celebration with an extended fireworks show after the final out. Gates are slated for 5 P.M. with a 6:05 first pitch.

To purchase tickets for any 2022 game or for more information regarding any of these great giveaways, visit swbrailriders.com.

Griffin Pond Animal Shelter to Host Bingo

Support Griffin Pond Animal Shelter and take your chance to win on Sunday, June 12. Mega Prize Bingo will be held at Scott Twp. Hose Company, Montdale. Doors open at 1 p.m. and games begin at 3 p.m.

The event will include 16 bingo games, four specials, a door prize, basket raffles, and a 50/50. Prizes include overnight stays at resorts, a patio set, a gazebo, gas fire pits, lawn maintenance equipment, and much more. There will also be food and non-alcoholic beverages for sale. Guests may BYOB.

Tickets are $25 each and be purchased at www.griffinpondanimalshelter.com/mega-prize-bingo or at the shelter between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily, including weekends.

HNB Supports Lacawac Sanctuary

The Honesdale National Bank was once again authorized to make approved contributions under the Commonwealth’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) Program. HNB designated $2,000 of their approved allotment to the Lacawac Sanctuary Field Station and Environmental Education Center, nestled on 550 acres near the shores of Lake Wallenpaupack. The funds, donated by HNB, will support the Center’s K-12 innovative educational programs

HNB President & CEO, Thomas E. Sheridan Jr., stated, “Lacawac Sanctuary presents benefits to our environment, local students, and community members.” He said, “We are glad that we can continue to support the funding of this organization to care for our youth’s education and environmental preservation.”

The Lacawac Sanctuary offers direct experiences with nature, providing relevant learning that equips students with critical thinking, creative approaches, and problem-solving skills. Their mission is to preserve the natural beauty of Lake Lacawac, its watershed, and surrounding lands; to conduct long-term research on natural systems as part of a global effort to understand and protect the Earth’s biodiversity; and to increase appreciation of this effort through innovative, field-based educational programs for students, teachers, and the community.

Craig Lukatch, President at Lacawac Sanctuary, said, “Support of Lacawac’s education programs through the EITC program helps bring hands-on learning opportunities to students in Kindergarten through 12th grades.” He continued, “The generosity of The Honesdale National Bank makes environmental education a reality for so many students in our local community both at Lacawac’s environmental education center and in the classroom.”

Johnson College to Host 29th Annual Golf Tournament

The 29th Annual Johnson College Open will be held on Friday, May 20, 2022, at Pine Hills Country Club in Taylor, PA (rain or shine).  Proceeds from this annual golf tournament support the Johnson College Presidential Scholarship Fund. Each academic year, Presidential Scholarships are awarded to four qualified and deserving full-time students. To register to golf, visit Johnson.edu/golf.

AllOne Foundation Awards Grant to CAC/NEPA

The Children’s Advocacy Center of Northeastern Pennsylvania (CAC/NEPA) announces the award of a $65,000 grant from AllOne Foundation

“The Children’s Advocacy Center of Northeastern Pennsylvania is grateful to AllOne Foundation for their generous grant to our Center. This grant supported expanding our trauma-informed behavioral and mental health services for child victims of abuse, neglect, and trauma in Northeastern Pennsylvania by hiring another full-time therapist for our Mulberry Center. On behalf of the Board of Directors, the CAC Team, and the child victims of abuse and neglect we serve, we are sincerely grateful for AllOne Foundation’s support.” said Marsha Pigga, Executive Director.

For more information about the CAC/NEPA, please call the Center at 570-969-7313 or visit the CAC/NEPA’s website: www.cacnepa.org.

The Wright Center Prioritizes Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education has named Dr. Alexies Samonte as its vice president of Sponsoring Institution Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Faculty and Curriculum Development, and Graduate Medical Education Funding Stewardship.

In this newly created role, Samonte will work with executives and others throughout the organization to ensure ongoing and innovative faculty development, substantial accreditation compliance, community benefit tracking, and continuous resident wellness and resiliency, among other objectives. One major focus will be to create a robust strategy for diversity, equity and inclusion.

Samonte’s diversity and inclusion efforts will span all three nonprofit entities: The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education, The Wright Center for Community Health and The Wright Center for Patient & Community Engagement. 

“I am excited about this new role,” said Samonte, who previously served as medical director of The Wright Center’s pediatric services. “Leading this journey is a privilege, since diversity, equity and inclusion are embedded within our mission.”

The longtime pediatrician, who is a native of the Philippines, will work to educate faculty, staff and members of the broader community about diversity and inclusion matters such as those promoted by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education’s (ACGME) “ACGME Equity Matters” initiative. The ACGME initiative aims to drive change within graduate medical education institutions by increasing physician workforce diversity, and building safe and inclusive learning environments, while promoting health equity by addressing racial disparities in health care and overall population health.

Samonte assumed her new role in late February. She already has coordinated The Wright Center’s participation in an upcoming continuing education series about LGBTQI+ inclusive health care. The series is being offered beginning June 1 through the Penn State College of Medicine’s Project ECHO network. Promoters say the series will help health care providers “meet the complex social, emotional and physical health care needs of their patients within a supportive and safe environment.”

Additionally, Samonte will develop volunteer opportunities for residents and fellows that focus on diversity, equity and inclusion activities. She also will monitor and track the progress of The Wright Center’s diversity-related metrics.

A Jenkins Township resident, Samonte earned her doctorate degree in medicine and surgery as well as a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Santo Tomas, Manila, Philippines. She also earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Scranton. 

The Wright Center, which strives to be an optimal employer, has more than 600 workers in Northeast Pennsylvania and at its graduate medical education training partner sites across the nation. For more information, visit TheWrightCenter.org.

Federal REAL ID Enforcement Begins May 3, 2023

With the one-year countdown beginning today for the federal enforcement of REAL ID for commercial domestic air travel and other federal purposes, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) joined the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) and Philadelphia International Airport officials to remind Pennsylvania residents who want REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and photo ID cards and have not yet gotten one to gather the needed documents now to ensure they leave plenty of time to get their REAL ID before the federal enforcement date.

To date, PennDOT has issued approximately 1.6 million REAL ID products.

REAL ID is a federal law that affects how states issue driver’s licenses and ID cards if they are going to be acceptable for federal purposes, such as boarding a domestic flight or entering a federal building that requires federally acceptable ID upon entry. A federally acceptable form of identification (whether it’s a Pennsylvania REAL ID driver’s license or ID card, a valid U.S. Passport/Passport Card, a military ID, etc.) must be used for these purposes on and after May 3, 2023.

There is no requirement that any resident obtain a REAL ID; PennDOT continues to offer standard-issue driver’s licenses and photo IDs.

“Although a year seems like a long time to get ready, the deadline will be upon us before you know it. We encourage our customers who want a REAL ID to get one as soon as possible,” said PennDOT Acting Executive Deputy Secretary Melissa Batula. “We continue to focus on providing the best possible customer service to all of our customers as the federal deadline approaches.”

Since March 1, 2019, PennDOT has processed about 8.3 million customers, with more than 1.6 million individuals choosing to opt into the REAL ID program. The remaining 6.7 million have chosen not to participate or use an alternative federally acceptable form of ID come the May 2023 deadline.

“We see plenty of travelers who reside in neighboring Delaware and New Jersey who fly out of Philadelphia International Airport regularly, and like all travelers from out-of-state who want to fly after May 3, 2023, they also will need to have a REAL ID compliant driver’s license or other acceptable form of ID when they approach our TSA travel document podium,” said TSA Federal Security Director Gerardo Spero. “The REAL ID law is for all Americans who want to fly out of any domestic airport across the country starting one year from now. My advice is to go to your local state’s department of motor vehicles or department of transportation to get your upgraded REAL ID driver’s license now. Don’t wait.”

Customers can obtain a REAL ID by presenting documents for verification and processing at any driver license center. Federal regulations require that to be issued a REAL ID-compliant product, PennDOT must verify the below documents:

  • Proof of Identity: Examples include original or certified copy of a birth certificate filed with the State Office of Vital Records/Statistics with a raised seal/embossed or valid, unexpired, U.S. Passport;
  • Proof of Social Security Number:  Social security card, in current legal name;
  • Two Proofs of Current, Physical PA Address: Examples include a current, unexpired PA driver’s license or identification card, vehicle registration or a utility bill with the same name and address; and 
  • Proof of all Legal Name Changes (if current legal name is different than what is reflected on proof of identity document): Examples include a certified marriage certificate(s) issued by the County Court for each marriage, court order(s) approving a change in legal name or amended birth certificate issued by the State Office of Vital Records/Statistics. If current name is the same as what is reflected on proof of identity document (usually birth certificate or passport), a customer does not need to show proof of legal name changes.

Customers have three options for obtaining a REAL ID product: Customers may order their REAL ID online if they have been pre-verified and their REAL ID product will be mailed to them within 15 business days; they can visit any PennDOT driver license center that is open for driver license services, have their documents verified and imaged, and their REAL ID product will be mailed to them within 15 business days; or they can visit one of 13 REAL ID Centers and receive their REAL ID product over the counter at the time of service.

For a full list of driver license centers and their services, please visit the PennDOT Driver and Vehicle Services website, www.dmv.pa.gov.

When a customer gets their first REAL ID product, they pay a one-time fee of $30, plus the applicable renewal fee (current renewal fee is $30.50 for a four-year non-commercial driver’s license, and $31.50 for a photo ID). The expiration date of their initial REAL ID product will include any time remaining on their existing non-REAL ID product, plus an additional four years, unless the customer is over 65 and has a two-year license. This expiration date structure means that customers won’t “lose” time that they’ve already paid for. After the initial REAL ID product expires, customers pay no additional fee, beyond regular renewal fees, to renew a REAL ID product.

REAL ID-compliant products are marked with a gold star in the upper right corner, standard-issue (non-compliant) products include the phrase “NOT FOR REAL ID PURPOSES,” per federal regulations. Sample images can be viewed on PennDOT’s website.

More information about REAL ID in Pennsylvania, including frequently asked questions and information on documents required for REAL ID, can be found at www.penndot.gov/REALID.