MOOSIC — Carsyn Cole talked about her basketball prowess with Vice President Joe Biden on Monday and she couldn’t wait to get back to school to tell her friends all about it.
“It feels pretty good,” Cole, 9, of Duryea, said at Terry’s Diner, where Biden stopped to meet with people and to connect with constituents from his hometown area. “He was nice. He asked me about school and stuff.”
Cole is a third-grade student at Holy Rosary Elementary School in Duryea. Her grandmother is the hostess at Terry’s.
“He asked me where I went to school and I told him I play basketball,” Cole said. “I can’t wait to tell my classmates about this.”
Cole said she’s a pretty good basketball player and she was sure to tell Biden that.
Biden was in town on St. Patrick’s Day to be the featured speaker at the 100th anniversary dinner of the Greater Pittston Friendly Sons of St. Patrick at The Woodlands later in the evening. Air Force 2 touched down at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport at around 12:30 p.m.
Biden was whisked away to Scranton and he met the media motorcade at the Hilton Hotel.
While the vice president was at Terry’s, his wife, second lady of the U.S., Dr. Jill Biden, spoke to guests at the Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel in Scranton during the Dress for Success Lackawanna 15th Anniversary Luncheon Celebration Monday afternoon.
Terry Holmes, the 57-year-old owner of Terry’s Diner, said he found out Biden was arriving 15 minutes before the motorcade pulled into his parking lot around 3:15 p.m.
“He was terrific. He spoke to every customer in the diner,” Holmes said. “He told me it was nice to be home again.” Holmes described Biden as “a normal guy” who sat in every booth and talked to customers to hear their concerns as he made his way through the diner.
Waitress Susan Rogers was wearing Irish beads and a hat that caught Biden’s eye and he stopped for a quick chat before heading to a pre-arranged meeting in another room in the restaurant on the Affordable Care Act.
Biden was all smiles and he shook hands with people, even stopping to pose for photographs. He then met with seven people working to sign up others for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, before the March 31 enrollment deadline.
“Hey, Dianna,” Biden said to Dianna Ashford, a certified application counselor with the Rural Health Corporation of Northeast Pennsylvania, shaking her hand. “I’m the late Joe Biden,” referring to his tardy arrival.
As he sat down at the table, the vice president thanked the group for taking time to meet with him about the Affordable Care Act.
“So far, things are moving pretty well after getting off to a slow start with the website,” Biden said.
The vice president said he wanted to talk about “what it is that has worked and hasn’t worked” and “what you think we should be doing.” He noted more than 4 million Americans have enrolled in health insurance plans through the federal and state exchanges since Oct. 1.
After March 31, Americans without health care plans will have to pay a penalty. Biden said the cost of health insurance for most young adults is probably less than what they pay for cellphone service.
Meeting with Biden were: Laura Long, certified application counselor, Wayne Memorial Community Health Centers; Belinda Opeil, certified application counselor, Scranton Primary Health Care Center Inc.; Dr. John Szarek, professor and director of Clinical Pharmacology, The Commonwealth Medical College; Danae DiRocco, student, TCMC; Kristina Zimmerman, also a TCMC student; and Tom McHugh, navigator, The Advocacy Alliance.
After Biden left the diner, Luann Holmes, a waitress at Terry’s for nine years, said she waited on the vice president.
“He had some Irish soda bread and coffee,” she said. “He was very nice and went into his meeting.”
Holmes said Biden was polite to all — staff and customers.
“This is the biggest thing we’ve ever had here,” said Terry Holmes. “Before today, Sen. Bob Casey and (state) Attorney General Kathleen Kane were the biggest names to eat here.”
Jill Biden’s message at the luncheon was the importance of empowering women.
“It’s fitting that we celebrate the talented women of Dress for Success Lackawanna in the same month that we commemorate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month,” she said. “It’s a time to acknowledge the power of women looking out for one another.”
Dress for Success Lackawanna provided more than 300 women with suits for their first job interview, along with a week’s worth of clothing after they were hired last year.
“Our goal is that they don’t have to focus on the clothing,” Dress for Success Lackawanna Executive Director Mary Ann Iezzi said. “They can focus on the job and getting their first paycheck.”