Public invited to Wilkes-Barre forum on training for local workers






    WILKES-BARRE — Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale this week invited local residents, along with community, business and education leaders, to join him for a forum with a panel of experts to discuss the critical need for targeted work force training and development in Northeast Pennsylvania.

    The forum will be held Tuesday from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the THINK Center, Lower Level, 7 S. Main St., Wilkes-Barre. The public is welcome to attend and ask questions.

    “We need training programs that provide workers with the skills they need to succeed in today’s ever-changing job market,” DePasquale said in a news release. “We want to make sure workers are getting those skills so they can land good jobs where they can earn a respectable wage to raise their families and that help our communities to thrive and prosper.”

    DePasquale said he is holding several public meetings across the state to gather information on work force training needs and prepare for an audit of the effectiveness of state-funded work force training programs. He said he wants to hear from local residents about what works, what doesn’t work and what needs to be done better.

    DePasquale will lead a discussion of panelists that includes the region’s top employers, educators and advocates for business and industry. They plan to discuss the wide range of industries in the region, including: health care, service sector, manufacturing, transportation and warehousing.

    The panel is expected to include representatives from the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce, Mohegan Sun Pocono, Luzerne County Community College, Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance, Northeast Pennsylvania Manufacturers and Employment Council and Geisinger Medical Center.

    Wolf says his 2017-18

    budget benefits people

    with disabilities

    The state Department of Human Services’ Office of Developmental Programs Deputy Secretary Nancy Thaler this week joined service providers at the Pennsylvania Advocacy and Resources for Autism and Intellectual Disability meeting in Harrisburg to discuss how Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2017-18 budget is providing opportunities for thousands of Pennsylvanians with disabilities.

    “The Wolf Administration is committed to supporting and investing in individuals with disabilities, and the governor’s proposed budget will enable more people to live and thrive in their communities,” DHS Secretary Ted Dallas said in a news release. “This budget provides the highest levels of support to people with disabilities in years, while saving taxpayers over $2 billion through cuts, savings, and efficiency.”

    According to information from the governor’s office, individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities play active roles in their schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods. They have more opportunities in education and employment and more protections in health care, the legal system, and other areas of human rights.

    Wolf’s proposed budget provides $26.2 million to enable individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism to move from the waiting list. According to the release, this funding:

    • Recognizes the increased costs in providing services and paying direct care professionals.

    • Reduces the waiting list by 1,000 individuals with intellectual disabilities through the creation of a new community support waiver.

    • Provides employment and other community services to an additional 820 special education graduates with intellectual disabilities and autism.

    • Expands the Adult Autism Waiver to serve 50 more individuals.

    • Funds community services for 80 individuals transitioning from Hamburg Center and an additional 40 individuals at other state centers.

    • Adds more than 2,000 individuals with autism and intellectual disabilities to the Targeted Services Management State Plan.

    • Establishes two bio-behavioral units to support people with complex neuro-developmental needs.

    “The governor’s investment in special education graduates will provide the necessary supports to allow more than 800 young people to transition to community living and employment, providing a better chance for success in the community, instead of high-cost services down the road,” Thaler said.

    Additionally, Wolf said his proposed creation of a Department of Health and Human Services will streamline services for individuals with disabilities by eliminating the unnecessary duplication of effort and confusion among consumers and their families.

    Currently, Pennsylvanians with a disability may have to work through multiple agencies for the health and human services that they need. The 2017-2018 budget creates a new, unified Department of Health and Human Services that consolidates the Departments of Aging, Drug and Alcohol Programs, Health, and Human Services in order to dramatically improve our ability to deliver services that will improve lives.

    Health Department

    investigating mumps

    cases at Penn State

    Secretary of Health Dr. Karen Murphy announced this week that the Department of Health is working with Pennsylvania State University to investigate confirmed cases of mumps at the State College campus.

    The department is also working with PSU’s University Health Services to investigate additional potential cases. No further information regarding the cases will be released due to patient confidentiality.

    “In light of these confirmed mumps cases, and with spring break fast approaching, it is very important for PSU students to avoid sharing food and drinks with others and to monitor their overall health,” Murphy said. “Students who have been diagnosed with mumps or are experiencing symptoms of the virus should check with PSU Health Services before returning to the State College campus.”

    Murphy said all PSU students and visitors should also take steps to make sure their vaccinations are up-to-date, as that is the best way to prevent getting the mumps virus.

    The mumps virus is characterized by swelling of the glands located just below or in front of the ear/jaw. Individuals with mumps virus may not experience symptoms at all, and for those who do show symptoms, they usually occur about two weeks after being initially infected.

    Symptoms of mumps include swelling and tenderness of one or both salivary glands, usually the parotid glands located just below the front of the ear/jaw, fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness and loss of appetite.

    Murphy said isolation is critical in preventing the spread of mumps. Anyone with a confirmed mumps infection, individuals awaiting test results, or close contacts of anyone with mumps who has not been previously vaccinated should remain isolated as directed by the health department and health care professionals. Individuals who think they may have the mumps should immediately call their health care provider or PSU’s University Health Services for instructions.

    For more information, visit the Department of Health website at or follow the department on Facebook and Twitter.


    By Bill O’Boyle

    [email protected]

    Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.

    Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.

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