A Christmas feast for military families

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DANVILLE — Some military personnel will be enjoying a large Christmas feast Sunday in Danville.  A Christmas party for reservists and active soldiers in Kuwait and the Middle East will be held at the Danville Armed Forces Reserve Center.  The military personnel from across the state are linked to the 3rd Battalion 103rd Armor Regiment of the National Guard.  Staff Sgt. Bryan Parsons is a family liaison officer to the families.  He explained why he wanted to have this event.   “We’re welcoming back the soldiers that have been deployed.  I, myself, have been deployed three times, and I know what it takes out on a family while their spouses are deployed.  I realize what…

Unique Christmas performance this weekend

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LEWISBURG — As they say in the movie Elf, the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.  The Susquehanna Valley Chorale will be spreading the cheer this weekend with their operetta performance of Amahl and the Night Visitors.  Amy Caron has been a member of the Chorale since high school.  She explains what the performance is about.   “It really is sort of a sub-plot to the story of the three kings following the star to meet the Christ child.  They need to take a rest at a very poor woman’s home who has a fickle young boy.  This family and their village is very accommodating.  They are very…

Barletta introduces bill for volunteer firefighters

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WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (R-11th, Hazleton) has introduced a bill that would exempt volunteer firefighters and emergency responders from the Employer Mandate Provision of Obamacare. Barletta is concerned that since the Internal Revenue Service currently views volunteer firefighters as employees, fire companies and municipalities would be forced to provide health insurance or pay a fine. Under the Employer Mandate Provision, employers with 50 or more employees must provide health insurance or pay penalties.   Barletta said this would saddle fire companies and municipalities with unbearable financial burdens and threaten public safety. He sent a letter to the IRS in November requesting a clarification, but has not received an answer. The legislation is supported by…

The new autism treatment facility is thriving

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LEWISBURG – The Geisinger-Bucknell Autism and Developmental Medicine Center opened in the spring and as 2013 wraps up, they are happy to report the center is thriving. Dr. Thomas Challman is medical director at the center.   Challman said, “We evaluate children that have developmental delays. We try to investigate explanations for why a child might have a developmental delay, set up treatment options and try to help families along the way.”   Dr. Challman said there is also important research being done. He said, “It’s a combined effort between our clinical care and our research activities. There is a lot that we don’t know about developmental disorders and we view it as one of…

Pope Francis is Time’s Person of the Year

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NEW YORK (AP) – Pope Francis has been selected by Time magazine as the Person of the Year. In only his first year, the pope was selected by the magazine’s editor as the person who had the greatest impact on the world, for good or bad, during 2013.  Time managing editor Nancy Gibbs said Pope Francis had changed the tone, the perception and focus of one of the world’s largest institutions in an extraordinary way.   Leader Edward Snowden finished second as Time announced its choice on the “Today” show Wednesday.

Sunbury woman: It will be nice to have a meal for the holidays

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SUNBURY – For a Sunbury woman and her husband, who chose to remain anonymous for this story, it is the first time seeking assistance from the Salvation Army’s Needy Family Fund.  The wife is on disability for 12 months and her husband is on social security.  “I was in the hospital for awhile,” she says, “And had to go through rehab.” This time of year, with the cold weather setting in, can really break the bank for this family.  “It is time to turn on the heat,” she says.  “Plus, we have our mortgage, water bills, sewer bills, and car payments.  If we were lucky, someone would help us out with my hospital bills.” She…

Needy Family Fund: Minimum wage isn’t much says Mom

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NORTHUMBERLAND — Crystal Barann moved to Northumberland from Michigan about a month and a half ago with her 16-month-old son.  “My sister lives here, so I live with her currently.”  Barann was able to find a job since moving to the area, but says providing for her son is still a challenge.  “Money is tight and everything is getting more and more expensive.  Minimum wage just isn’t very much.” She also has to spend money for a babysitter while she is at work.  Barann calls her son a really good kid and is hoping he will have a good Christmas.  “He likes toys that make noise and play music.  He is into Yo Gabba Gabba!…

Needy Family Fund: Grandfather says getting gifts for kids is tough this year

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SUNBURY — A Sunbury man would like nothing better than to help others this Christmas.  Instead though, he is seeking food through the Salvation Army for himself and his fiancee.  The 49-year-old says, “I’d like to be the person to hand this food off to other people, to not need it myself.” Bob, who asked that his full name not be published, is disabled and cannot work.  He says, “This is really a bad time with increased costs and everything.  We can barely make ends meet.”  On top of that,  Bob says he has five grandchildren here in Pennsylvania and two in Maryland.  He says, “Every penny counts, but how do you explain to kids…