Sharing the story of our heritage

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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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Best and worst side jobs for extra holiday cash

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The holidays are a time for giving, but giving can be expensive. The season can put tremendous financial pressure and stress on average families. The good news, however, is that it’s also a great time to make some extra cash and pad your annual income wit (read more)

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By Natalie Gelb

One of the main goals of the Lackawanna Heritage Valley is to tell the region’s story. As we embark on a new year of projects and programs, we aspire not only to share the story, but also to make the story better. To that end, we will continue to develop our most visible project, the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail (LRHT) and engage in partnerships with community organizations to enhance the quality of life in the Heritage Area.

Trail users have a lot to look forward to this year. In Scranton, a $1 million safety improvement project will create safer conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists crossing intersections at Elm, Broadway and Poplar streets in South Scranton; Olive Street in Central Scranton; and Albright Avenue, Green Ridge and East Market Streets in North Scranton. The project is made possible through funding support and collaboration among LHVA, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Multimodal Transportation, PennDOT, Lackawanna County, the City of Scranton and The University of Scranton.

Plans are underway for a 1.1 mile section of trail in Dickson City that will connect the borough to Olyphant, creating an alternative route for those who currently travel on Main Avenue, as well as access to the river for fishing and boating. In the future, this also will link Dickson City to Throop for walkers and cyclists to get to the Mid Valley School Campus. The project is funded by the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (PA DCNR) and PennDOT’s Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP).

The Carbondale Riverwalk is scheduled for completion in 2017. The 1.2 mile section of the LRHT in Carbondale will connect to a 2.2 mile section in Fell Township that will provide a direct link to the D&H Rail-Trail in Susquehanna County. Also in the Upper Valley, BikeCarbondale, the sister program to BikeScranton, will offer free bike rentals at the Greater Carbondale YMCA and the Carbondale Grand Hotel & Conference Center.

When construction of the 2.2-mile pathway between Simpson and Vandling is complete, the trail will connect 62 miles from Taylor to the New York State border at Lansboro, Pa.

In addition to trail development, LHV is collaborating with its partners on programs and events to fulfill its mission to preserve and promote the region’s history, cultural heritage and natural resources. Piecing Together the Past, a joint project of LHV and Steamtown National Historic Site (NHS), this geocaching program takes participants on a hunt to 12 historic sites in Scranton, including: Albright Memorial Library, Anthracite Heritage Museum, Courthouse Square, Electric City Trolley Museum, Everhart Museum, Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour, Lackawanna Historical Society, Lackawanna River Heritage Trail, Radisson Lackawanna Station, Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple, Scranton Iron Furnaces and Steamtown National Historic Site.

For those not familiar with geo-caching, it’s described on as a “real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices.” Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the hidden geocache. The hidden caches at each site will contain a puzzle piece with a photo of that location. Once all 12 pieces are collected, geo-cachers will present their assembled puzzle to officials at Steamtown NHS to redeem a prize. There is no fee to participate in this self-guided tour.

Piecing Together the Past will launch on April 15 as part of National Park Weekend. On April 15 and 16, and April 22 and 23, Steamtown and all National Parks will offer free admission. Look for details at

A new year also means the start of a new cycle of grant funding through LHV’s Partnership Grant Program. Since its inception, LHV has provided $3,375,903 in grants to non-profit organizations for projects and programs in place-based education, interpretive programming, historic preservation, cultural conservation, community trails, and community and economic development. In 2016, $18,327 was awarded to 17 partner organizations. This investment in NEPA stimulates the economy, enhances tourism initiatives, strengthens community organizations, and increases the quality of life for area residents.

Natalie Gelb is executive director of the Lackawanna Heritage Valley (LHV). Email her at

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