Natalie Gelb walks down LHV's memory lave

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20 Under 40: JenniferDessoye

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Dr. Jennifer Dessoye is assistant professor of occupational therapy at Misericordia University and owner of Bright Beginnings Early Learning Academy (BBELA). Discontent with the early education curriculum and understanding of human development and neurolo (read more)

20 Under 40: Amy Hlavaty Belcher

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Amy Hlavaty Belcher, 39, owner and artistic director of Abrabesque Academy of Dancing, believes that for those who have been given much, much is expected. “I just try hard to do my best,” she said. I have been blessed with many opportunities and many gift (read more)

20 Under 40: Christopher Hetro

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Chris Hetro, 33, works hard and plays hard. “A strong work ethic is important, but finding balance outside of work is important because life is too short and you need to enjoy it,” he explained. As an electrical engineer and project manager at Borton-Laws (read more)

20 Under 40: C. David Pedri

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For attorney C. David Pedri, 37, it’s all about a combination of qualities that contribute to success. “My philosophy is simple: be open and honest, treat people the way you would want to be treated, with respect, and work hard to attain your dreams. The (read more)

20 Under 40: Ed Frable

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Ed Frable, 28, believes “if I work hard and stick to my word, good things will happen. My crew will not be deterred. We will re-evaluate our game plan and not give up until the job is complete,” explained Frable, the owner/operator of Ed Frable Constructi (read more)

20 Under 40: William H. Bender II

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William H. Bender II, CFP, CIMA, CRPC, loves what he does. “I’m lucky. I come to work every day excited to help the people and institutions we work with,” explained Bender, 34, first vice president at Bender Wealth Management Group, Merrill Lynch. The fam (read more)

20 Under 40: Angelo Venditti

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Angelo Venditti, 38, heard a call to the helping professions early on. Geisinger Northeast’s chief nursing officer answer was to volunteer for his local fire company. After high school, he became a paramedic, then enrolled in nursing school. Three years a (read more)

20 Under 40: Donald Mammano

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At 20, Donald Mammano began his own company, while attending the University of Scranton. Mammano, now 33, and president of DFM Properties, recalls, as a youngster, holding a flashlight while his father fixed the kitchen sink. “From that point on I was fas (read more)

20 Under 40: William J. Fennie III

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William J. Fennie III, 27, is always knocking on the proverbial door, because he knows one day, one will open. As an investment specialist with Integrated Capital Management (iCM) he cannot take “no” for an answer. “I make cold calls every day to invite f (read more)

20 Under 40: Marcus Magyar

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As an advisor at CAPTRUST Financial Advisors, Marcus N. Magyar, CFP, 30, provides comprehensive wealth management and investment portfolio services to business owners, executives, families and high-net worth individuals. His multi-disciplinary team of pro (read more)

20 Under 40: Heather Davis

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Heather M. Davis, 33, director of marketing and communication, is responsible for creating, overseeing and implementing a strategic marketing and comprehensive communications plan for The Commonwealth Medical College (TCMC). She is also responsible for pr (read more)

20 Under 40: Alexandria Duffney

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Alexandria Duffney, 30, is competitive by nature and loves a good challenge. These qualities have led her to her position as associate director of graduate admission at Wilkes University. Here she works with prospective students interested in enrolling in (read more)

20 Under 40: John Culkin

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John Culkin’s tenets inform: “Less haste equal more speed; the same boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg, it is all about what you are made of, not the circumstances surrounding you; and don’t ask someone to walk a mile in your shoes, bef (read more)

20 Under 40: Conor O'Brien

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“What could be worse than getting to the end of your life and realizing you hadn’t lived it,” mused Conor O’Brien.” As co-founder and executive director of the Scranton Fringe Festival, O’Brien, 25, is responsible for leading the development of the overal (read more)

20 Under 40: Jessica Siegfried

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Jessica Siegfried, 38, is senior designer with BlackOut Design Inc., where she is responsible for all creative design at the full-service agency, from traditional branding and print to collateral and front end web design. “I’ve always had an interest in t (read more)

20 Under 40: David Johns

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David Johns’ career path has been shaped by his diverse experiences. As director of structural engineering at Greenman-Pedersen Inc., Moosic, Johns, 39, ensures that his engineering and consultant teams provide clients with their best effort. “We complete (read more)

20 Under 40: Robyn Jones

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Robyn Jones, 38, president of ReferLocal LLC, has learned just as many lessons from her business successes as she’s had from her failures — and she believes it’s important to share that knowledge with her employees. After graduating from American Universi (read more)

20 Under 40: Nisha Arora

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Nisha Arora, 36, tries to be the best version of herself every day. As general counsel for ERA One Source Realty Inc., she realized she cannot control other’s behavior so “I try to focus on myself and how I can be better,” she explained. Arora’s responsib (read more)

20 Under 40: Justin Sandy

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Starting at a young age in Hazleton, Justin C. Sandy, 33, found a passion for running. He became a member then a coach for Misericordia University’s cross country and track and field programs. “It was at Misericordia that I also garnered the profound sati (read more)

20 Under 40: Dr. Ariane Conaboy

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As a doctor of internal medicine at Physicians Health Alliance, Dr. Ariane M. Conaboy, 34, realizes the importance of human life and how fragile it can be at times. Conaboy graduated from Scranton Prep and the University of Scranton with a double major in (read more)

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Carbondale's newest pizza shop sets national record

CARBONDALE — It was only 4 p.m., a little early for a dinner rush, but the pickup line at Carbondale’s newest pizza place was already eight customers deep. (read more)

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Gelb

By Natalie Gelb

As I prepare my last column for the Northeast PA Business Journal as executive director of the Lackawanna Heritage Valley, I have been taking a walk down memory lane. I wrote my first guest column in 2007, three years into my 12 1/2-year stint. Liz Zygmunt, then editor of the Journal, offered me the opportunity to write a monthly column on the topic “Heritage Tourism.” As the deadline approached each month, I challenged myself to find something new, interesting and informative to write about. I now realize that I have written dozens of columns and, daunting though it seemed, there was no dearth of subjects that fit within the goal of “telling the region’s story.”

I learned an adage in French classes many years ago at Scranton Central High School: “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” (The more things change, the more they stay the same.) Although it might seem a contradiction in terms, there is great wisdom in that perspective. The story of the Lackawanna Heritage Valley is constantly changing, but there are certain aspects of the region that remain to sustain a unique “sense of place.” During a strategic planning exercise several years ago, I was asked what my vision was for the Lackawanna Heritage Valley. As I pondered the challenging question, I decided that I hoped people would know when they were there. In other words, despite the cynics and detractors, I hoped that people would recognize that there is something unique about this place; something that makes this place different.

The Lackawanna Valley, once dotted with coal breakers and still bearing some permanent scars from that era, is rich in natural resources. Surrounded by mountains, it abounds in lakes and streams and forests that host a diversity of flora and fauna, fish and wildlife, many of which have reclaimed the landscape after years of industrial degradation. The Lackawanna River is home to Trophy Trout that attract not only people who love to fish, but also bald eagles that troll regularly for fish. Nature has run its course and, with help from conservationists and environmentalists, the river and much of the land have been restored. Rare species, like our national bird, are finding their way back.

And this place has a special personality. It is infused with a sense of community that defines the ethos of Northeastern Pennsylvania. I have noted that community service is as integral a part of daily existence as the mundane activities of daily living. I have seen it first hand in the thousands of hours that volunteers have contributed to the Lackawanna Heritage Valley over the past 12 years — from organizing and sponsoring events like the Heritage Explorer Bike Tour to the Santa Train, from trail cleanups to repairing fences, from extolling the trail on social media to stuffing envelopes for mailing special publications.

Natives who have left and return recognize that, as I wrote in a July 2007 column, the grass truly is greener here. People who move here from other places think it is a great place to live. We enjoy cultural, historic and educational opportunities galore. The cost of living is low and recreational activities are accessible and affordable. We are proud of the legacy of our immigrant past, but we are welcoming to others. The recent outpouring of support for refugees in our midst is emblematic of a caring community.

There has been notable progress since 2004 when I began my career at LHV. Miles of the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail have been developed, connecting communities throughout the county and creating a culture for health, wellness and social interaction; downtown Scranton has become a 24/7 residential community; there is a new medical school; Arts on Fire and Bonfire at the Furnaces have enlivened the Scranton Iron Furnaces; the Scranton Half Marathon has become a new tradition; there are sculptures and cameras on the trail, murals under bridges, and the new Sweeney’s Beach hosts Riverfest. The popular Nay Aug Avenue Natural Play Area is the first of its kind in Pennsylvania, creating a wonderful venue for creative play for children. BikeScranton loans free bikes, the county libraries offer young readers passports to historic and cultural sites, the Everhart Museum attracts new audiences with innovative exhibitions, and Joe Biden, our native son, was vice president of the United States. It is a long list that has provided plenty of material for 10 years’ worth of columns — all to the good of heritage tourism.

We celebrate the past, but we don’t live in it. Much has changed, but the character of the Lackawanna Heritage Valley remains the same. My role is changing, but the Lackawanna Heritage Valley is staying with me.

Natalie Gelb is ending her 12 1/2-year tenure as executive director of the Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority (LHVA). This is her final column on heritage tourism.

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