Railfest Returns to Steamtown

Steamtown National Historic Site’s 2022 Railfest weekend is being offered in partnership with the Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum’s Arts on Fire event held at the Scranton Iron Furnaces. Both sites are excited to be collaborating to provide an interactive and immersive experience showcasing our community’s history. In addition to free admission, there will be no cost for Steamtown’s short train rides, the Scranton Limited and the Caboose Experience. Free transportation between Steamtown and the Iron Furnaces will also be available.

Steamtown will host a ribbon cutting ceremony at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 11th to celebrate the restoration of the Union Pacific “Big Boy” No. 4012. Shortly after the ceremony, scheduled tours of the cab of the “Big Boy” will be provided by NPS staff and volunteers. Special programming will be offered throughout the weekend, including tours of Mattes St. Tower, demonstrations of Maintenance of Way equipment provided by the New Jersey Trackcar Excursions group, hand car demonstrations, tours and demonstrations within the locomotive shop including updates on the Boston & Maine No. 3713, special Railfest-exclusive Junior Ranger activities, scheduled Ranger Programs, and of course, our short train rides, the Scranton Limited and the Caboose Experience. Several community partners will be in attendance with site information and exhibits. For those interested in genealogy, our Historian will be on-site with the Lackawanna Historical Society to assist those digging into their family history.

Arts on Fire at the Scranton Iron Furnaces will take place 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 11th, kicking off at 11 a.m. with a ceremonial lighting of the furnace.  Arts on Fire will feature Lackawanna Markets arts vendors, arts demonstrations, food trucks, music by Bryan Banks, Steamtown’s “Ring of Fire” demonstrations, and the return of Hot Metal to the furnaces.  The Lackawanna Historical Society will feature a community participation mural project, and artist and sculpture professor Brian Glaze will fire up his cupola furnace and melt iron.  Scratch blocks will be available for your artistic expressions in cast iron.

Steamtown’s Railfest weekend continues into Sunday, June 12th with an excursion to Gouldsboro, departing from Steamtown at 11 a.m. and returning at 3 p.m. Tickets for this excursion may be purchased in advance online through recreation.gov by searching “Steamtown National Historic Site”, or on-site at the Information Kiosk during regular business hours. Please note: due to limited crew availability, there will be no Yard Shuttle available on excursion day, only the Caboose Experience.

Stay informed by visiting www.nps.gov/stea or @SteamtownNHS on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Learn about the Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum by visiting www.anthracitemuseum.org or @AnthraciteHeritageMuseum on Facebook and @AnthraciteMuse on Twitter.

Scranton Area Community Foundation Hosts 3rd Annual NEPA Gives Friday, June 3rd

225+ local nonprofits joining together for historic giving day. ‘Give Gathering’ taking place in Downtown Scranton to celebrate

The Scranton Area Community Foundation, in partnership with The Luzerne Foundation, Greater Pike Community Foundation, Wayne County Community Foundation, Carbon County Community Foundation, Posture Interactive, and other community sponsors, will host the third annual NEPA Gives event on Friday, June 3, 2022.Promoted as the single largest day of philanthropy in Northeastern Pennsylvania, NEPA Gives is a one-day, 24-hour, online giving extravaganza that’s all about giving back to the community.

NEPA Gives aims to raise awareness about the critical work nonprofit organizations carry out across the region and aims to help charitable organizations raise much-needed funds. Over 225 nonprofit organizations from across seven counties in Northeastern Pennsylvania will participate in NEPA Gives on Friday.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars in matching funds and prizes have been secured, provided by various community partners, businesses, and sponsors that make donations to participating nonprofits during NEPA Gives stretch even further.

Adding to the excitement, to celebrate NEPA Gives, the Scranton Area Community Foundation is also hosting an in-person NEPA Gives ‘Give Gathering’ that will be held at the Hilton Scranton Conference Center from 3:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. on Friday, June 3, to coincide with First Friday Scranton. The Give Gathering will include live entertainment, giveaways, real-time and live-streamed updates on NEPA Gives, and opportunities for the general public to meet many of the participating nonprofits. This event is free to attend.

To celebrate this historical and monumental giving day, both Scranton Mayor Paige Cognetti and Wilkes-Barre Mayor George Brown have made official proclamations declaring June 3, 2022, as NEPA Gives Day.

“NEPA Gives is all about supporting charities that are doing important work right here in Northeastern Pennsylvania,” said Laura Ducceschi, President and CEO of the Scranton Area Community Foundation. “We have teamed up with various community partners and businesses eager to provide support for NEPA Gives and we are thrilled to announce that we have secured hundreds of thousands of dollars in incentives, bonuses, and matching funds available to participating nonprofits which helps make charitable donations go further during NEPA Gives. This year, we are looking forward to gathering in person in Scranton to celebrate the momentum of NEPA Gives and highlight the good work of the many participating nonprofits taking part in NEPA Gives.”

Members of the community wishing to make a contribution for NEPA Gives can visit www.nepagives.org anytime between 12:00 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. on Friday, June 3, 2022, to make a secure donation to any of the 225+ participating nonprofit organizations.

This is the third year for NEPA Gives. In its second year, NEPA Gives raised over $1.2 million for 218 nonprofit organizations.

To learn more about #NEPAGives, visit nepagives.org or contact Brittany Pagnotti, Communications Manager of the Scranton Area Community Foundation at 570-347-6203.

Wright Center/Weinberg Food Bank Feeds NEPA Families

Families throughout Northeast Pennsylvania are struggling to put food on their tables. The lingering supply-chain effects from the COVID-19 pandemic and the surging rate of inflation, combined with the rising costs of food, gasoline and medicine, are forcing many families to choose between those three essential items. Sadly, many times food becomes the item families skimp on.

The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Northeast Regional Food Bank and The Wright Center for Community Health partnered several years ago to provide food to underserved areas of Lackawanna and Luzerne counties where food pantries aren’t as plentiful.

“We’re doing it together. The Weinberg Foundation has been wonderful to work with. They get grants and donations for food. I reach out to Mary Ellen Spellman when we need to distribute food and she gets the order together for us,” explained Gerri McAndrew, co-director of Patient & Community Engagement at The Wright Center for Community Health.

McAndrew works out of The Wright Center’s Mid Valley Practice in Jermyn and oversees the organization’s food pantry and donation schedule. Donations of food, hygiene supplies and children’s backpacks are stored in what the Mid Valley staff refers to as “Gerri’s She Shed,” a shed housing refrigerators, freezers and storage shelves to properly stock and organize all the donations.

“We have food drives for as many families as need it. Usually there are 30 families in the up-valley area who need food, but The Weinberg Foundation supplies us with enough food to accommodate 50 families,” McAndrew explained. “We have employee volunteers who organize and pack the food into bags and another group of employees who load the groceries in the families’ trunks, gather their information, and they’re on their way.”

McAndrew stresses that no one who needs food will ever be turned away, and recipients do not have to be patients. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the drive-thru food pantries are only being held at the Jermyn location. She sends food to The Wright Center’s clinical locations in Clarks Summit, Scranton and Kingston for distribution there when needed. “We don’t want families driving all the way up here, especially with the price of gas,” she added.

Thanks to donations from The Weinberg Foundation, The Wright Center’s staff provides three or four heaping bags of nutritious foods to each recipient. A typical donation will include fresh fruits and vegetables, such as apples, zucchini and rutabagas; frozen meats such as ground beef and pork tenderloin; block and shredded cheese; milk; canned vegetables and dried fruits.

“The Weinberg Foundation always gives us a generous supply of fresh and canned foods and dairy and I think that’s great. A lot of people and businesses donate canned goods which we appreciate,” said McAndrew. “Groceries have gotten so much more expensive. Not that everyone we help is on a fixed income, but some of these people must make a choice between their food and medicines.”

At a food pantry day in May, one woman told McAndrew, “I need a cow with my children. You don’t know how much milk I go through.” Even if the donated food helps them for one week, it’s a week that parents do not have to worry about what or how to feed their children.

It isn’t just families that benefit from the food pantry. Many recipients are older individuals who are on fixed incomes that don’t cover all their expenses. “We have an older couple who lives next door to us here in Jermyn, and when I’m out at the shed and I see the woman outside, I’ll ask if she needs anything and bring her something over from our freezer. She’s so appreciative of the help,” said McAndrew.

The partnership between these two organizations clearly demonstrates their commitment to the Northeast Pennsylvania community. McAndrew looks forward to the day when the COVID-19 pandemic is a thing of the past and more food pantry donation days can take place.

“I love my job. I love doing what I do for the community. I realize how fortunate we are. I’m so grateful to The Weinberg Foundation for helping make all of this happen,” said McAndrew.

Talking to Your Kids About Recent Tragedies

Tawnya Meadows, PhD, Geisinger director of pediatric primary care behavioral health

For the second time in two weeks, the nation is faced with a mass shooting, this time taking the lives of 19 fourth-graders and two teachers in Texas. It is easy to immerse ourselves in the media and get caught up in the emotions of the tragedy. But as parents, we should take time to understand the impact on our children and be prepared to talk about these events with them.

There is no parenting handbook for this type of discussion, but as a behavioral specialist with a focus on children, I hope I can provide some ways to help parents navigate these uncomfortable but important conversations.

The anxiety and stress we feel as parents can impact our children as well. Limiting media exposure and not immersing yourself in 24-hour coverage is the first step to reducing anxiety.

Be mindful of your conversations and the words you choose. Try not to project emotions of frustration or hate. Our children pick up on our moods and overhear conversations, and those can play a role in amplifying their anxiety or other negative feelings.

Second, make time to discuss your child’s feelings — from a developmentally appropriate perspective. For elementary or middle school children, you may want to have a conversation while doing a preferred activity, such as coloring, playing catch or kicking a soccer ball. This can help children feel relaxed and express their emotions.

Third, be a good listener. Find out what your child knows about the subject and their feelings on it. Don’t have these conversations right before bedtime, though, as it could cause kids to have trouble sleeping.

Finally, be reassuring. Let your child know that they are safe and that in general, schools are safe. Point out the security measures that their own school takes for visitors. Remind them about the adults that are around to keep them safe.

For kids of high school age, who are more aware of such situations, know that they will have conversations with their friends to find comfort and understanding. Remind them to me mindful of others when they discuss the events in public situations. They may inadvertently increase anxiety in a peer who they are not aware has a history of trauma. Furthermore, stress that if they see something they are uncomfortable with or that looks suspicious, they should say something.

Simply put, there is no easy way to discuss tragedies with children. But making time to listen to their feelings and understand their concerns can go a long way toward helping reassure your children and making them feel safe. And above all, trach your children to choose kindness and notice the kindness in others.

Treasurer Garrity Returns Bronze Star to WWII Veteran’s Family

During a ceremony at VFW Post 92, Treasurer Stacy Garrity returned a Bronze Star to the family of the late Frank Musto, a U.S. Army veteran who served his country in World War II.

“It’s an incredible honor to return this Bronze Star to the Musto family,” Garrity said. “Frank Musto enlisted when he was just 19 years old and served our country during World War II. He was wounded during battle in France. As a fellow veteran, and on behalf of the entire Commonwealth, I extend my deepest appreciation and gratitude for Frank’s service and his and his family’s sacrifices for our country.”

“We’re all very proud of our father’s service in World War II, and it means the world to us that the Bronze Star is now back with his family,” said Ron Musto, one of Frank Musto’s sons. “Our entire family would like to thank Treasurer Garrity and her team at the Treasury Department for taking care of these military decorations and for making sure they were reunited with us.”

In addition to the Bronze Star and related military decorations, an engraved bullet casing from Musto’s military funeral was returned to his family at the ceremony, including several of his children and grandchildren.

Like most tangible unclaimed property, these military decorations – along with a black and white photo of Frank Musto and several other items – were received by Treasury as the contents of a safe deposit box.

It was determined that the box owner was Frank’s late son Jody Musto, so Treasury staff researched by scouring newspaper articles and the internet to find prospective family members or heirs to the property. Treasury staff made cold calls and eventually connected with the family to start the return process. The Musto family had thought the contents of the box were lost for good after an unsuccessful attempt to obtain a list of its contents from the bank.

For his military service, Frank Musto was also awarded a Purple Heart, WWII Victory Medal, Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, and European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal. Those medals were already in the family’s possession.

The Pennsylvania Treasury works diligently to return all unclaimed property with special attention given to military decorations and memorabilia. Since taking office, and including today’s returns, Treasurer Garrity has returned 262 military decorations including 3 Purple Hearts and 2 Bronze Stars. Treasury has returned a total of 560 military decorations and memorabilia.

Treasury’s vault still holds hundreds of military decorations including Purple Hearts, Bronze Stars, Legion of Merit awards, campaign medals, military identification tags and more representing every branch of the military and nearly every major conflict. These items are never auctioned and are held in Treasury’s care in perpetuity or until a rightful owner is found.

Treasury’s dedicated military decoration database can be searched by visiting patreasury.gov/unclaimed-property/medals.

Payroll Prep Tax Information

When the City of Scranton was declared a financially distressed municipality pursuant to the Municipalities Financial Recovery Act, Act 47 of 1987, as amended, (Act 47) it was authorized to levy a payroll preparation tax in lieu of the City’s business privilege tax and mercantile tax. On December 14, 2021, Scranton City Council adopted ordinance File of the Council No. 95 repealing the City of Scranton’s business privilege tax and mercantile tax and authorizing the levy of a payroll preparation tax to begin on January 1, 2022.

In the interest of assisting City’s businesses as they prepare their initial Payroll Preparation Tax return, on May 24, 2022, Scranton City Council approved Resolution No. 79 which provides a one-time waiver of the interest and penalties that would otherwise be due from June 1, 2022, through June 30, 2022. This, in practical terms, extends the due date from May 31, 2022, to June 30, 2022, of a business’s initial Payroll Preparation Tax return.

Read more about the Payroll Prep Tax on the City’s website.

NEPA Gives is Tomorrow

NEPA Gives—a one-day online giving extravaganza that’s all about giving back to the community. Scranton Area Community Foundation, Carbon County Community Foundation, The Luzerne Foundation, Greater Pike Community Foundation, Wayne County Community Foundation, Community Foundation of Endless Mountains have teamed up to host NEPA Gives.  

For 24 hours—from 12:00 a.m. to 11:59:59 p.m.—on Friday, June 3, 2022, donors may make secure donations to their favorite local nonprofit organizations through the NEPA Gives online platform. Donations to participating nonprofits will be enhanced with bonus funds provided by NEPA Gives sponsors—making donor dollars stretch further! Nonprofits will also be eligible for cash prizes. Registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations serving residents in Northeastern Pennsylvania can participate in NEPA Gives. And, anyone can donate!