Lebanon VA facility named nation’s best

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Lebanon VA Medical Center (Lebanon VAMC) has again been named the top VA Medical Center in the United States for patient experience. 

It marks the third consecutive year the local Veterans healthcare system has received the prestigious national honor for patient and employee satisfaction. 

“It’s a great day when the actions, culture and outcomes of our staff are recognized and honored at a national level,” Lebanon VAMC CEO and Executive Director, Jeffrey A. Beiler II said in a statement. “The best in VA Overall Experience Award is like the Oscar, Emmy, or Grammy awards. It’s a reaffirmation for years of excellence and demonstrates great achievements are possible with excellent teamwork.”  

The local Veteran’s facility and its five associated community clinics received the award during the VA’s annual Customer Experience Symposium on Sept. 7-8 in Washington DC. The facility achieved the highest overall combined patient experience and employee experience scores of all complexity level 2 facilities in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). 

The facility scored in the top quintile in the Survey of Healthcare Providers (SHEP) Overall Rating of the Provider, SHEP Inpatient Overall Rating of the Hospital, Veterans Signals (V-signals) Trust scores, and the All-Employee Survey (AES) scores for the Best Places to Work. The Veteran Trust score is a record high level. 

One of 170 medical centers in the nation with the sole purpose of providing medical care to America’s veterans, Lebanon VAMC serves a nine-county area in South Central Pennsylvania covering Adams, Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry, Schuylkill, and York counties. Lebanon VAMC also oversees community clinics located in Lancaster, Mechanicsburg, Pottsville, Wyomissing, York, and Fort Indiantown Gap.

UPMC expanding orthopaedics services in Central Pa.

UPMC Orthopaedic Care in Central Pennsylvania is expanding its services in the region to include a new fracture care program. 

The program offers services to diagnose and treat traumatic orthopaedic injuries ranging from simple breaks to complex fractures in patients of all ages.

Matthew Garner, M.D., an orthopaedic trauma surgeon and Central Pennsylvania native, has joined UPMC Orthopaedic Care in Central Pa. and will lead the new fracture care program. 

“As a native of Central Pa. with roots in the Lancaster and Altoona areas, I’m looking forward to continuing to practice in and care for the community that I call home,” Garner said in a statement. “My colleagues from UPMC Orthopaedic Care across Central Pa. are known for their exceptional quality and outcomes, and I’m looking forward to joining their ranks and bringing a new service to the region.”

Garner joins a team of specialists, physicians, and clinicians at UPMC Orthopaedic Care in Central Pa. who offer care across Dauphin, Cumberland, Perry, York, Lancaster, Lebanon, Juniata, Franklin, Adams, and parts of Snyder counties.

“I am pleased to welcome Dr. Garner to the orthopaedics team, and we’re excited about his leadership in developing our new fracture care program,” said Kyle McGill, executive administrator, UPMC Orthopaedic Care, UPMC in Central Pa.

“Traumatic injuries are life-altering events. Dr. Garner understands each patient has specific needs and challenges, and builds a relationship with them, personalizing their care to ensure they have an exceptional experience. Their goals are his goals, and he does whatever he can to get them back to doing what they enjoy most in life.”

Garner received his medical degree from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He completed his orthopaedic surgery residency at the Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, and fellowship trainings at Harborview Medical Center, Seattle, Wash., and Lindenhof Hospital, Bern, Switzerland.

Garner is board-certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery and is a member of the American Medical Association, the Pennsylvania Orthopaedic Society, the Orthopaedic Trauma Association, and the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons. 

Great Lebanon County PITCH competition opens

The Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence, a free business resource for Lebanon County, has opened the third annual Great Lebanon County PITCH, offering entrepreneurs the chance to win seed money to start their dream business or expand their existing business.

They will compete for a portion of $8,000 in grant money – $5,000 to the winner and $3,000 to the runner-up. This year’s PITCH program will culminate in a presentation Oct. 24.

The center’s chairperson, Lebanon Mayor Sherry Capello, said in a release that “the winners from previous PITCH competitions have done very well – expanding their business offerings, opening their doors, and more. We’re glad we were able to provide some assistance in helping them reach their goals.”

Interested participants will need to complete a business plan. Now through October, the center will provide workshops and SCORE mentoring for entrepreneurs to develop and create their comprehensive business plans.

An Interest to Participate in the PITCH must be submitted no later than Sept. 4. This does not require participation; it just shows a level of interest.

Deadline for the final application and business plan is 4 p.m. Oct. 6.

The Great Lebanon County PITCH will be presented at the Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence, 989 Quentin Road, Suite 1, Lebanon, from 3-5 p.m. Oct. 24.

The competition is open to the following:

  • A business in Lebanon County that is expanding or altering its business model.
  • Entrepreneur(s) with an idea to create a new business that is or will be in Lebanon County.

There is no cost to participate; all the information and the applications are online at thecenterlebanon.org.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Central PA youth reentry programs gain federal funding

Nine youth reentry programs in Pennsylvania are receiving awards totaling more than $5 million in grant funding, Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Nancy Walker announced on Wednesday. 

The funding supports reentry programs that prepare young Pennsylvanians for employment or post-secondary education and aim to reduce the recidivism rate. 

The nine local workforce development boards (LWDBS) will work in partnership with the state’s juvenile justice system, PA CareerLink offices, community organizations, and academic programs to recruit, re-engage, and assist young adults ages 18-24 who were incarcerated or have interacted with Pennsylvania’s judicial system. 

Among the LWDBS and youth re-entry programs awarded funding were the Berks County Workforce Development Board ($800,000) and the South Central Workforce Development Board that includes Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Juniata, Lebanon, Perry, and York counties ($450,000). 

Walker said in a statement that youth reentry programs provide young people the tools and resources needed to gain lifelong skills and good-paying jobs and help local employers reach an untapped labor pool. 

The programs are expected to provide in-demand job training, re-entry support services, mentorship, higher education opportunities, and family-sustaining career pathways.

Bringing home the bacon: Godshall’s sets turkey bacon world record

It’s official!

Godshall’s Quality Meats is now the Guinness World Records title holder for the longest piece of turkey bacon.

To achieve the record, Lebanon County-based Godshall’s created an enormous turkey bacon slice that measured 17.75 feet long and 23 inches wide. An official surveyor and adjudicator from Guinness was present at the North Lebanon Township plant to ensure all criteria were met.

More than two dozen Godshall’s employees helped create the record-setting piece, which is over 1,000 times larger than a regular slice of turkey bacon. It was wood smoked for six-plus hours in a huge oven.

After the Guinness World Record was set, the slice was served at a BLT luncheon for hundreds of Godshall’s employees and local dignitaries to as well as packaged for employees and a local food bank.

“As one of the leading turkey bacon brands, what could we do to continue building awareness for our brand? Go big!” Ron Godshall, president of Godshall’s Quality Meats, said in a release.

“And it was only right to attempt a world record of this size on the longest day of the year during National Turkey Lovers month to kick off summer. We’ve been preparing for several weeks, making sure our team members and facility had everything needed to produce the world record-setting slice of turkey bacon and we’re thrilled to now be the official title holders!”

Around since 1945, Godshall’s also operates facilities in Telford, Emmaus and Souderton. The employee-owned company, which calls itself America’s third largest turkey bacon brand, supplies premium smoked meat products to customers worldwide.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Godshall’s will try to set Guinness World Record for turkey bacon

June 21 could be a sizzling day for the record books at Godshall’s Quality Meats.


That Wednesday, the longest day of the year, Godshall’s will attempt a Guinness World Record – for the longest piece of turkey bacon – at its 1415 Weavertown Road plant in North Lebanon Township.

In order to achieve that, the slice must be at least 16.6 feet long, Godshall’s said. An official surveyor and judge from Guinness World Records will be onsite during the attempt to ensure all criteria are met.

The bacon will cook for more than six hours in a giant smokehouse oven that’s 25 feet long and 10 feet wide. After the piece is cooked, measured, and certified a new world record, it will be served during a BLT luncheon.

The largest producer of whole muscle turkey bacon in the country, Godshall’s makes other meat products as well, although turkey bacon is the most popular. The employee-owned company is in the midst of a $74 million building project to expand its Lebanon County plant, doubling the size to more than 200,000 square feet.

Godshall’s also has two other locations: a headquarters and distribution center in Souderton and the original plant in Telford.

In Lebanon, it sponsors the city’s annual New Year’s Eve Bologna Drop.

The North Lebanon Township facility, acquired in 2005, was the former Daniel Weaver Co. In business since 1885, Weaver’s was one of the first commercial producers of Lebanon bologna.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

National logistics firm adds distribution center in Myerstown

Saddle Creek Logistics Services announced that the company is expanding existing warehousing and fulfillment operations in four key markets, including in Central Pennsylvania.

The Lakeland, Florida-based omnichannel supply chain services provider is opening four additional multi-client distribution centers, one of which is in Myerstown, Lebanon County.

The others are in Walton, Kentucky; Joliet, Illinois; and North Las Vegas. Combined, the four warehouses are more than 1.8 million square feet.

Each of the new facilities is centrally located with easy access to major interstates, enabling one- to two-day delivery to millions of consumers in many major markets.

They also are designed for e-commerce fulfillment with high ceilings (36 feet to 40 feet) and offer value-added services, returns management and parcel shipping programs. In addition, they are technologically advanced with robotics and automation.

The 277,000-square-foot Myerstown distribution center is scheduled to open in July. The facilities in Walton (232,500 square feet) and Joliet (712,000 square feet) are already open. The warehouse in North Las Vegas is under construction and will be completed in early 2024.

With these new facilities, Saddle Creek’s distribution network will encompass more than 33.4 million square feet across 31 markets nationwide.

“E-commerce and omnichannel retail will continue to grow, as will demand for warehousing and distribution space – particularly in strategic locations that can help to reduce transit times and ensure cost-effective deliveries to a significant percentage of the U.S. population,” Duane Sizemore, Saddle Creek’s senior vice president, marketing and business development, said in a release. “Based on our experience to date in Walton, Joliet, Myerstown and North Las Vegas, we believe these markets are optimal for serving current and future clients.”

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

PA Lt. Gov. highlights investments in workforce in Tec Centro visit

Investments in workforce development, technical training, and apprenticeships highlighted Lt. Gov. Austin Davis’s visit Thursday to Tec Centro SW in Lancaster. 

Gov. Josh Shapiro’s budget proposes to increase funding by $23.8 million to build partnerships between career and technical education and industries, trades and entities seeking skilled workers. 

“The governor and I want to make Pennsylvania a leader in innovation, job creation and economic development,” Davis said in a statement. “If we’re going to address the workforce shortages facing our communities, we must empower Pennsylvanians to pursue their dreams, no matter what they may be. 

“That’s why the Shapiro-Davis budget invests more into apprenticeship programs, expands vo-tech and brings career and technical training back into the classroom, to give students that freedom and help prepare them for the future.” 

A provider of bilingual education and skill training for those who are unemployed and under-employed, Tec Centro operates two workforce centers in Lancaster and one in Reading. The Tec Centro centers in Lancaster train more than 1,200 workers. 

Tec Centro plans to open a facility in Lebanon this summer, one in York later this year, and another in Harrisburg in 2024. 

State Rep. Ismail Smith-Wade-El said the proposed budget increase in partnerships between education and industry will build an information bridge between workers, educational institutions, and industries. 

“Workers will know what skills they need to get the jobs they want; educational institutions will design programs that teach workers the in-demand skills they need to thrive; and businesses will be able to fill their talent pipeline with highly skilled workers,” said Smith-Wade-El. “This is a smart and necessary investment in our people, our communities, and our industries that will pay dividends in the years to come.”

Harrisburg/Lebanon small business owners sought for free federal program

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is seeking 25 small business owners in Harrisburg/Lebanon to join the SBA T.H.R.I.V.E Emerging Leaders Reimagined Program. 

An acronym for Train, Hope, Rise, Innovate, Venture, Elevate, T.H.R.I.V.E. is a federally funded, executive-level training series aimed at accelerating the growth of U.S. small businesses with high potential. 

According to its website, training is not for start-ups or people who are thinking about starting a business, but is open to small business owners and executives who meet the following criteria: 

  • Have annual revenues of $250,000 or more. 
  • Have been in business for three or more years. 
  • Employ at least one person other than self. 

Highlights of the training program include mentoring, in-person coaching for C-level executives, self-paced instruction with demonstrated business sustainability, micro sessions customized for the needs of small businesses, subject matter experts, and peer-to-peer interaction. T.H.R.I.V.E. estimates the value of its program to be $15,000. 

No restrictions are placed on the types of business eligible to participate in the program. Participating for-profit companies include contractors, food services, manufacturers, professional services, and retail/wholesalers. 

Having surveyed hundreds of small businesses across the U.S., SBA reported that the chief challenges small business owners face includes the following: 

  • Growing their team. 
  • Increasing productivity. 
  • Driving sales. 

To help small business owners overcome their challenges, SBA is offering a free, nationwide, six-month entrepreneurship training and coaching program. There are 25 spots available for small businesses in Harrisburg/Lebanon.  

A coach will work with each small business owner to develop a strategic plan. The program is a hybrid format of online and in-person, and will include eight online modules, and eight in-person sessions at a local cohort location. 

Small business owners have until May 17 to apply. The program will run from June 20-December 20.

JBT Bancorp elects new chairman of the board

JBT Bancorp Inc., the holding company of Jonestown Bank & Trust Co., announced that Glenn T. Wenger has been elected to serve as the chairman of the board of directors of JBT Bancorp Inc. and Jonestown Bank & Trust Co.

Wenger, a Myerstown resident, replaces Richard Newmaster Jr., who retired after serving on the board for 19 years. Newmaster has been named director emeritus.

“It has been a profound pleasure working with Rich,” Troy A. Peters, JBT President and CEO and a member of the board, said in a release. “We thank him for his service, counsel and leadership.”

President of Wengers in Myerstown, Wenger previously served as vice chairman of JBT Bancorp Inc. and Jonestown Bank & Trust Co., joining the board in 2008. He is also chairman of Ag Industrial Inc. and president of JK&B Inc.

In other board business, Edwin C. Hostetter II was elected vice chairman, and Edward L. Anspach was re-elected to the roles of second vice chairman and secretary of JBT Bancorp Inc. and Jonestown Bank & Trust Co.

A resident of Robesonia, Hostetter has served on the board since 2013. Prior to his retirement, the CPA and management consultant was vice president of finance and chief financial officer at SSM Group Inc.

Anspach is president of Anspach Autos and a resident of Grantville; he has served on the board since 1987.

Also re-elected to the board were Jeffrey Bohn, Lloyd Deaven Jr., Jonathan Hollinger, Brian Miller, Sallie Neuin, Dr. Sina Patel, Troy A. Peters and Eric Trainer.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer