TAFTON - The Chamber of the Northern Poconos held their annual membership meeting at Silver Birches, January 16. The group heard about the efforts to improve broadband service across Pennsylvania, and several awards were given to local business people.

Keith Williams was introduced as the Chamber’s new executive director, as of January 2019.

The keynote speaker was Sheri Collins, who is the Pennsylvania Deputy Secretary with the Office of Technology and Innovation. She stressed the need for a team approach across the state to tackle the lack of broadband Internet service, particularly facing rural areas. 

She noted that a lot of positive work has been taken in the Wayne County area. She highlighted the Stourbridge Incubator Project in Honesdale, which offers an entire “gig of connectivity.” Collins said this capacity is “unheard of.”

The Wayne Economic Development Corporation (WEDCO) operates the Stourbridge Project in Honesdale,which provides opportunities for start-up businesses to do work.

Although the price tag to expand broadband across the Commonwealth may be around a billion dollars, Collins suggested that one potential revenue source could be a 25 cent tax on cellular service.

Broadband service can benefit the entire spectrum of life. She cited students who are at  a disadvantage without broadband at home, and senior citizens who could use the service to access medical information.

Randy Bennett, owner of Bennett’s Detailing, a Hamlin based company, was the recipient of the Young Entrepreneur Award.

Bennett, in expressing his gratitude, credited the community for keeping his business afloat, and thanked his family for backing him when he took a “leap of faith” and started his own business in 2015. He said he has a passion for cars and trucks, and loves his work.

His shop is located at 1126 Hamlin Highway (Route 590), Lake Ariel.

Several Milestone Awards were also presented, to long-time businesses that are marking significant anniversaries:

Woodloch Pines Resort, 60 years

Baer’s Sport Center, 60 years

Arts for Him and Her Too, 70 years

The Wayne Independent, 140 years

Teeters Furniture & Teeters Funeral Chapel, 170 years.