Tobyhanna Army Depot Marks National Disability Employment Awareness Month

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) and Tobyhanna Army Depot (TYAD) marked the occasion by raising awareness of the experiences of employees with disabilities.

Currently, 10% of employees working at Tobyhanna identify as having some form of disability. In addition to traditional federal hiring practices, Tobyhanna utilizes the Schedule A Hiring Authority, which provides non-competitive pathways to employment for qualified applicants with disabilities. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 61 million adults — one in four — in the United States live with a disability.

“At some point in their lives, most people will either have a disability or know someone who has a one,” said Coleen Boyle, Ph.D., director of CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. “Learning more about people with disabilities in the United States can help us better understand and meet their health needs.”

TYAD strives to continuously improve when it comes to providing an inclusive workplace for employees with disabilities. According to Equal Employment Office Chief John Sutkowsky, TYAD is continuously searching for ways to provide individuals with disabilities the best possible means to fulfill their work. One such example is through the use of screen reading technology for blind individuals, which he explained gives blind employees much more independence when performing their work as they don’t constantly need to rely on someone else to read their screens for them.

“The disabled person has a whole lot more independence at work than they ever did before,” said Sutkowsky. “The embracement of technology has really allowed for accessibility and possibilities that were thought impossible many years ago.”

Sutkowsky explained how over the years, disabled individuals have proven over the years that they are just as capable of achieving the same kind of success as those who are not disabled. Despite this fact, there are still those out there who operate under the misconception that someone with a disability cannot perform their duties to the fullest. One method TYAD uses to combat these misapprehensions is through strong and extensive training programs that detail how individuals should not have preconceived ideas of what disabled people are capable or not capable of doing.

“When given the chance, disabled individuals will surprise others with what they’re capable of doing,” said Sutkowsky. “TYAD has seen many great employees with disabilities be completely self-sufficient throughout their entire careers, even in roles others wouldn’t stereotypically think possible for them. We always aim to challenge the idea of what a disabled person can or can’t do, because they’re capable of a lot more than you’d think.”

Dionne Bash, a deaf employee working in the EEO Office, offered her firsthand perspective as to how hearing people can effectively communicate with their deaf co-workers during a presentation to the workforce on October 5.

Using a sign language interpreter, Bash touched on several topics including best practices for communication with deaf employees, interpreters, American Sign Language and more. Bash said Team Tobyhanna is strongest when working together.

“Communication is a two-way street. What (deaf people) want is mutual respect. We need to work together to make it work. The more flexible we are, the better it is for everyone.”

Attendees raved about the presentation, noting how it helped them understand diverse experiences.

“Because I don’t work directly with anyone at Tobyhanna who is deaf or hard-of-hearing, it was good to learn Dionne’s preferences for how to communicate with co-workers. I’m glad I was able to attend this presentation, and I hope to learn more on this and other topics about my co-workers in the future,” said Jeffrey Esposito, an electronics mechanic in the C4ISR Directorate. Jose Collado agreed.

“The presentation was filled with a plethora of useful information. However, the highlight for me was that we should make it a habit to make eye contact while communicating with the deaf and hard-of-hearing for them to read our lips,” he said.

Tobyhanna has proudly partnered with the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) since 2012, providing meaningful career and internship opportunities to their students. Depot personnel work directly alongside NTID instructors to ensure the school’s curriculum aligns with operational needs.

One of nine colleges on the Rochester Institute of Technology campus, NTID has more than 1,200 students enroll in its programs every year. The organization named Tobyhanna Army Depot with the “Center on Employment Outstanding Employer Partner Award” in 2019.

Individuals interested in learning more about Schedule A employment can call (570) 615-5410. Anyone interested in career opportunities with Team Tobyhanna can apply through USAJobs at

Fostering employment for employees of all abilities is a TOBY2035 Invest in Our People initiative. TOBY2035 is Tobyhanna Army Depot’s long-range strategic plan and strives to position Tobyhanna for success in the coming years as the Department of Defense’s premier worldwide C5ISR readiness provider.

TYAD is a recognized leader in providing world-class logistics support for command, control, communications, computers, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C5ISR) systems across the Department of Defense. Tobyhanna’s Corporate Philosophy, dedicated work force and electronics expertise ensure the depot is the Joint C5ISR provider of choice for all branches of the Armed Forces and industry partners.

Tobyhanna’s unparalleled capabilities include full-spectrum logistics support for sustainment, overhaul and repair, fabrication and manufacturing, engineering design and development, systems integration, postproduction software support, technology insertion, modification, foreign military sales and global field support to our joint warfighters.

About 3,200 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command. Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, the command’s mission is to empower the Soldier with winning C5ISR capabilities.

LIFE Geisinger Celebrates PACE Month

September was National PACE (Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) Month, and LIFE Geisinger held weeklong celebrations at all its centers.

As a PACE program, LIFE Geisinger keeps seniors cared for, independent and living in their own homes.

Festivities at LIFE Geisinger Scranton included traditional carnival games and snacks. Program participants accumulated ticket punches to win the grand prize of pie-ing LIFE Geisinger physician James McKenna, D.O., in the face. Live music was provided by Pat Maue, who sang country classics and patriotic favorites, prompting many participants to hit the dance floor.

LIFE Geisinger Kulpmont also offered live music from duo Bloodline, formed by father and daughter Geisinger employees, who played a crowd-pleasing set of folk and rock staples, touched on the psychedelic movement of the late ‘60s and even featured a polka song.

The Kulpmont carnival day offered similar games and treats to the Scranton center but also included a bottle ring toss game, fortune teller and temporary tattoo parlor.

LIFE Geisinger is a program for adults 55 and older designed to give seniors the support they need to live at home by offering comprehensive daily living and health services. The LIFE Geisinger team coordinates care based on individual needs, offering caregivers relief and support.

Locations in Kulpmont, Lewistown, Minersville, Scranton and Wilkes-Barre provide medical oversight, physical and occupational therapy, home care and socialization.

For more information, visit or call 800-395-8759. 

The University of Scranton Ranked No. 10 for Community and National Service

Since 2005, Washington Monthly analyzed numerous data sets in order to rank colleges across the nation in categories for “community and national service,” “research” and “social mobility” in order to assess the contribution graduates make to “the public good.” In the 2023 listing, published in the September/October issue of the magazine and online, Washington Monthly ranked The University of Scranton No. 10 among the 604 master’s universities in the nation in the “community and national service” category.

According to the publication, they rank “four-year schools (national universities, liberal arts colleges, baccalaureate colleges, and master’s universities) based on their contribution to the public good in three broad categories: social mobility, research, and providing opportunities for public service.” Scranton was No. 30 in the overall ranking that combines equally-weighted scores for “community and national service,” “research” and “social mobility.”

Scranton ranked No. 37, and No. 183, respectively, in the “research” and “social mobility” categories among master’s universities in the country.

For “community and national service” score, Washington Monthly looked at the percentage of all degrees awarded in health, education and social work “to reward colleges that produce leaders in socially valuable fields that are not always highly paid.”  They also reviewed the size of the ROTC program and the number of alumni serving in AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps, adjusted for the size of the school, as well as the percentage of federal work study grant money spent on community service projects, among other factors such as voter engagement. Washington Monthly determined the “research” score is based on each school’s research expenditure and the number of alumni earning Ph.D.s, relative to the size of the college. The “social mobility” score is based on actual and predicted graduation rates; student loan repayment rates; the percentage of students receiving Pell Grants; and the school’s average net price for full-time, in-state students with family incomes below $75,000 per year over the past three years, among other factors.

This is the 14th consecutive year Washington Monthly has included Scranton in its college rankings.

In other national rankings, U.S. News & World Report ranked Scranton No. 5 among regional universities in the north in its 2024 guidebook, marking the 30th consecutive year that Scranton ranked in the top 10. The Princeton Review included Scranton in its list of “Best Colleges” for 22 consecutive years, and ranked the University No. 18 in the nation for “Best Science Lab Facilities” in its latest edition of the guidebook.

The Dime Bank Celebrates Employee Milestones

Each year The Dime Bank holds a dinner celebration to acknowledge and honor their employees who are celebrating five-year incremental career anniversaries with The Dime Bank. In 2023, twenty-six Dime Bank employees were honored.

The Dime Bank believes employee anniversary celebrations are an important part of recognizing and appreciating the hard work and dedication of their employees. It’s a time to celebrate their achievements, milestones, and loyalty to The Dime Bank.

President and Chief Executive Officer commented, “We are grateful for our employees, who make The Dime Bank one-of-a-kind. Their positivity, commitment, and devotion provide our customers with the best possible experience. Each employee is valued and is an integral part of The Dime Bank’s success and we thank them for their hard work and commitment.”

Steamtown National Historic Site Winter Updates and Holiday Events

November brings along colder weather and shorter days, signaling a time of transition at Steamtown National Historic Site (NHS).

Winter Updates

Sunday, November 12: final day for Short Train Rides and access to “Big Boy” Cab;

Monday, November 13: begin winter hours of operation, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., daily.

Steamtown’s History Museum, Roundhouse building, and outdoor spaces will remain open throughout the winter. Weather may cause delays or closures, for updates visit

Upcoming Holiday Events

“Stuff the Caboose” will take place on Friday, November 17 from 5 a.m. – 7 p.m. The “Holiday Express” excursions to Moscow will run Friday, November 24 and Saturday, November 25; two trips offered each day from 9:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. – 4:15 p.m. Santa Claus will arrive at Steamtown via the “Santa Train” on Saturday, December 2 around 3 p.m. The “North Pole Limited”, an event sponsored by the Iron Horse Society, will occur December 9, 10, 16, 17, 22, and 23; please check the Iron Horse Society’s website for tickets.

Steamtown NHS is in Scranton, Pennsylvania. From Interstate-81 follow exit 185; then follow the brown and white signs to the park entrance at Lackawanna Avenue and Cliff Street. Park information is available by calling (570) 445-1898, or by visiting the park website.

The Wright Center and Great American Smokeout Continue Promoting Virtues of Tobacco-free Life

We all have friends or family members who can attest to how difficult it is to kick the habit and quit smoking. Often, people need multiple attempts before they successfully kick their addiction to nicotine for good.

The effort, though, is entirely worth it, considering the grave health effects of tobacco use. High-profile events like the Great American Smokeout further promote and raise awareness about the national cause.

Held on the third Thursday of November for nearly 50 years, the Great American Smokeout encourages people nationwide to take that crucial first step toward a smoke-free life while providing information on the resources the American Cancer Society (ACS) has to support those looking to quit. Its mission has helped spur the smoke-free laws of the past few decades that have significantly curtailed smoking-related deaths in the United States.

The Great American Smokeout’s origins go back to 1970, when an event in Randolph, Massachusetts, encouraged people to give up cigarettes for a day and donate the money they would have spent on them to a high school scholarship fund. That was followed in 1974 by the state of Minnesota’s first D-Day, or Don’t Smoke Day. Then, on Nov. 18, 1976, the California Division of the American Cancer Society got nearly 1 million people to quit smoking for the day, marking the first official Smokeout, which the ACS took nationwide in 1977.

Since then, we’ve come a long way in decreasing the smoking population in the U.S., from about 42% in 1965 to 14% in 2019. Even with these efforts, about 34 million American adults currently smoke, and smoking remains the single most significant preventable cause of death and illness in the world, with an estimated 480,000 deaths annually, according to the ACS.

Meanwhile, certain populations smoke more than others, including people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, those without college degrees, Native Americans, African Americans, members of the LGBTQ+ community, military personnel, and people with behavioral health conditions.

So, we need to continue working hard to promote the virtues of quitting smoking, which improves your health immediately and, over the long term, diminishes your chances of cancer, cardiovascular and lung disease. The path to quitting comes with proven cessation methods, among them prescription medications and counseling. And, of course, lots of support.

Here at The Wright Center for Community Health, we’re doing our best to decrease Northeast Pennsylvania’s smoking population by promoting the American Lung Association’s Freedom from Smoking program. The program focuses on FDA-approved medications that can help people quit, lifestyle changes that can make quitting easier, coping strategies to manage stress and avoid weight gain, and methods to stay tobacco-free permanently.

The number of participants determines individual and/or group sessions. If you are reading this column and are interested in learning more, please get in touch with me at or 570-290-2100.

In addition, our Lifestyle Medicine program takes an evidence-based approach to helping individuals and families improve their health and quality of life by adopting and sustaining lifestyle behaviors, including eliminating tobacco use. Our team is trained in both conventional and lifestyle medicine, and we work with patients to create sustainable, personalized lifestyle self-care plans that can help manage or prevent many chronic diseases.

Smoking is a hard habit to break. But there are clinically proven ways to free yourself from its clutches, and we’re here to help you along that path.

FNCB Bank Officer Receives AAP Certification

FNCB Bank’s Rebecca Richardson, Baking Officer, Electronic Banking Supervisor, has obtained her certification as an “Accredited ACH Professional (AAP)”. The certification focused on comprehensive knowledge in all areas of ACH including a deep understanding of and experience in ACH with broad knowledge of concepts that relate to the payments system as a whole.

Ms. Richardson joined FNCB Bank in September 2014 and has worked in several roles, including Electronic Banking Coordinator and Loan Operations Associate. She is a graduate of Old Forge H.S., Elizabethtown College where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree, and from the University of Scranton earning her Certificate of Accounting.

She currently resides in Olyphant, PA with her husband, Mark.

Penn State Scranton Adds Eight New Faculty and Staff Members

Penn State Scranton adds eight new faculty and staff members. Joining the campus are Farhang Daneshmand, assistant professor of engineering; Valarie Lynn, head librarian; Kelly Conlon-Mazzucca. lecturer of corporate communication; Loan Pham, assistant professor of business; Sarah Shigo, administrative support assistant/business services; Sarah Smith, coordinator of psychological and counseling services; Zachary Troy, IT support specialist; and Nicole Watkins, assistant professor of psychology. Read more here:

Carbondale Technology Transfer Center’s 9th Annual Entrepreneurship Academy

The Carbondale Technology Transfer Center (CTTC) held it’s 9th Annual Entrepreneurship Academy with students from Carbondale Area Jr/Sr High School, Forest City Regional High School, and Western Wayne High School. The CTTC’s Entrepreneurship Academy seeks to expose high school students (primarily sophomores and juniors) to the concept of entrepreneurship and its supporting characteristics. These business skills include leadership, marketing, effective business practices, and a spirit of independent thinking.  Students participating in the program are educated through classroom instruction along with hands-on learning through the completion of a project in conjunction with a local business.  This year, students worked with local businesses on project selected by the business owners.

Carbondale Area students worked with Burning Bush Café to develop a marketing plan and pieces for one of their products. Cliff Krajkovich, owner of Burning Bush Cafe, tasked the students with developing different ways to market and promote his business, including their partnership with the Monastery. The students offered a variety of ways to highlight the business, including through social media. The winning team of students suggested creating “behind the scenes” videos that are popular on TikTok, which show how different menu items are made.

Forest City Regional students worked with Birtchtown Weddings and Events to come up with some creative ways to market the venue for events other than weddings. Jessica Polednak, owner of Birchtown Weddings and Events, challenged the students with coming up with different ideas on how to utilize and market the property for events outside of wedding season. The class offered a variety of different ideas, ranging from indoor cornhole tournaments, to Santa’s Christmas Wonderland in December, to even a mechanical bull.

Western Wayne students worked with Adams Cable to develop a marketing plan and pieces for their new product, Echoe Stream.  Stephanie Kemmerer, Director of Marketing at Adams Cable, had the student teams develop a marketing plan for Echoe Stream and a target demographic of their market. They incorporated both on-air and print promotions to showcase the product and its advantages.

Congratulations to all of this year’s Entrepreneurship Academy students on a very successful year and thank you to Cliff of Burning Bush Café, Stephanie, Claire, and Wendy of Adams Cable, and Jessica of Birchtown Weddings and Events, for your participation in this year’s Entrepreneurship Academy!

IRS Announces Withdrawal Process for Employee Retention Credit Claims

As part of a larger effort to protect small businesses and organizations from scams, the Internal Revenue Service today announced the details of a special withdrawal process to help those who filed an Employee Retention Credit (ERC) claim and are concerned about its accuracy.

This new withdrawal option allows certain employers that filed an ERC claim but have not yet received a refund to withdraw their submission and avoid future repayment, interest and penalties. Employers that submitted an ERC claim that’s still being processed can withdraw their claim and avoid the possibility of getting a refund for which they’re ineligible.

The IRS created the withdrawal option to help small business owners and others who were pressured or misled by ERC marketers or promoters into filing ineligible claims. Claims that are withdrawn will be treated as if they were never filed. The IRS will not impose penalties or interest.

Those who willfully filed a fraudulent claim, or those who assisted or conspired in such conduct, should be aware that withdrawing a fraudulent claim will not exempt them from potential criminal investigation and prosecution.

“The IRS is committed to helping small businesses and others caught up in this onslaught of Employee Retention Credit marketing,” said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel. “The aggressive marketing of these schemes has harmed well-meaning businesses and organizations, and some are having second thoughts about their claims. We want to give these taxpayers a way out. The withdrawal option allows employers with pending claims to avoid future problems, and we encourage them to closely review the withdrawal option and the requirements. We continue to urge taxpayers to consult with a trusted tax professional rather than a marketing company about this complex tax credit.” 

When properly claimed, the ERC – also referred to as the Employee Retention Tax Credit or ERTC – is a refundable tax credit designed for businesses that continued paying employees during the COVID-19 pandemic while their business operations were fully or partially suspended due to a government order, or they had a significant decline in gross receipts during the eligibility periods. The credit is not available to individuals.

The ERC is a complex credit with precise requirements to help businesses during the pandemic, and since mid-September, the IRS has received approximately 3.6 million claims for the credit over the course of the program.

In July, the IRS said it was shifting its focus to review ERC claims for compliance concerns, including intensifying audit work and criminal investigations on promoters and businesses filing dubious claims. The IRS has hundreds of criminal cases being worked, and thousands of ERC claims have been referred for audit.

The new withdrawal process follows the Sept. 14 announcement of an immediate moratorium on processing new ERC claims. The moratorium, which will last until at least the end of this year, follows a flood of ineligible ERC claims. Payouts for claims submitted before Sept. 14 will continue during the moratorium period but at a slower pace due to more detailed compliance reviews. With stricter compliance reviews in place, existing ERC claims will go from a standard processing goal of 90 days to 180 days – and much longer if the claim faces further review or audit. The IRS may also seek additional documentation from the taxpayer to ensure the claim is legitimate.

Enhanced compliance reviews of existing claims submitted before the moratorium is critical to protect against fraud but also to protect businesses and organizations from facing penalties or interest payments stemming from bad claims pushed by promoters.

The IRS continues to warn taxpayers to use extreme caution before applying for the ERC as aggressive maneuvers continue by marketers and scammers.

The IRS is also working on guidance to help employers that were misled into claiming the ERC and have already received the payment. More details will be available this fall.

Who can ask to withdraw an ERC claim

Employers can use the ERC claim withdrawal process if all of the following apply:

  • They made the claim on an adjusted employment return (Forms 941-X, 943-X, 944-X, CT-1X).
  • They filed the adjusted return only to claim the ERC, and they made no other adjustments.
  • They want to withdraw the entire amount of their ERC claim.
  • The IRS has not paid their claim, or the IRS has paid the claim, but they haven’t cashed or deposited the refund check.

Taxpayers who are not eligible to use the withdrawal process can reduce or eliminate their ERC claim by filing an amended return. For details, see the Correcting an ERC claim – Amending a return section of the frequently asked questions about the ERC.

How to withdraw an ERC claim

To take advantage of the claim withdrawal procedure, taxpayers should carefully follow the special instructions at, summarized below.

  • Taxpayers whose professional payroll company filed their ERC claim should consult with the payroll company. The payroll company may need to submit the withdrawal request for the taxpayer, depending on whether the taxpayer’s ERC claim was filed individually or batched with others.
  • Taxpayers who filed their ERC claims themselves, haven’t received, cashed or deposited a refund check and have not been notified their claim is under audit should fax withdrawal requests to the IRS using a computer or mobile device. The IRS has set up a special fax line to receive withdrawal requests. This enables the agency to stop processing before the refund is approved. Taxpayers who are unable to fax their withdrawal using a computer or mobile device can mail their request, but this will take longer for the IRS to receive.
  • Employers who have been notified they are under audit can send the withdrawal request to the assigned examiner or respond to the audit notice if no examiner has been assigned.

Those who received a refund check, but haven’t cashed or deposited it, can still withdraw their claim. They should mail the voided check with their withdrawal request using the instructions at

Upcoming webinar and other resources for help

Tax professionals and others can register for a Nov. 2 IRS webinar, Employee Retention Credit: Latest information on the moratorium and options for withdrawing or correcting previously filed claims. Those who can’t attend can view a recording later.

The IRS unveiled a new question and answer checklist last month to help taxpayers understand if they’re eligible for the credit. Since then, the IRS evolved the checklist into an interactive feature to help employers – and the tax professionals working with them – check potential ERC eligibility.

The IRS also continues to encourage employers to seek out a trusted tax professional who understands the complex ERC rules, not a promoter or marketer trying to get a hefty contingency fee while taking advantage of honest taxpayers.

New approach from scammers

Marketers and scammers have already revised their ERC pitches following the Sept. 14 moratorium announcement. Some are pushing employers who submit an ERC claim into agreeing to costly up-front loans in anticipation of a refund. The IRS urges taxpayers to avoid these loans and also learn the warning signs of ERC scams.