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County Hall Corner 
By Larry Stout
Facing the Future

Yes, it is a new year, and we are all thinking about the future, but for the moment, take a trip back in time with me. Imagine that I am meeting myself twenty years ago. 20th Century Larry (20C Larry) meets me (21C Larry), and we start talking about communications.
“Oh, look at this,” 20C Larry says as he shows me his pocket pager. “I can get a message now no matter where I am in the city. If someone wants to reach me, they call a number to a service and leave me a message and then the server sends it to me and my little device beeps, and I read it. Pretty amazing isn’t it? Do you still have these in 2018?”
“Ah,” 21C Larry responds slowly, “you might want to sit down when I show you what we have in 2018.” I pull out my cell phone. “From this, I can get messages just like you described, but I can also get the calls themselves, from anywhere in the world, in fact. And this little thing also takes photos or movies with sound. I can even watch Hollywood movies from it, listen to music, get directions, play games, use the internet.”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” 20C Larry interrupts, “you’re kidding me, right? That little thing fits into your pocket. It could not possibly do all things. And if it did, it must cost a million dollars.”
I try to break this to my younger self gently, “No, actually, it does a lot, lot more than I just described, and yet these are so affordable, almost everyone in 2018 has one. And they are so simple to use; even grade school kids have them.”
I have used this little make-believe dialogue in leadership seminars to illustrate how difficult strategy and planning really is because the future almost always surprises us.
This struggle came into play at a recent County Commissioner’s Meeting as Karl Demi, the Information Services Director was explaining VoIP (Voice over Internet Providers) vs. regular phone lines. The county has been making this conversion over the past year, beginning with the Court House and the Executive Plaza offices, and this year intends to extend it to the Prison and the Lysock View facility. Commissioner Rick Mirabito, ever the fiscal steward, asked Mr. Demi if just because the technology was available, was it necessary? He saw the practicality for large facilities such as the buildings already completed, but could the outlying ones just get by with what they had?
Mr. Demi speaks slowly and softly, but he packs a lot of logic and power in his words. As delicately as he could, Mr. Demi explained to the commissioners that VoIP was not the future, but the present and the land lines were the past.
And yet, as technology advances, it does not dictate. Take the case of libraries, for example. For years now, there has been talk that with digital books becoming more and more popular, libraries were becoming obsolete.
However, a recent survey at the James V. Brown Library revealed the opposite response. Shirley, age 65, liked the fact that the librarians helped her pick out books that her grandchildren would like to read. Eunsong, age 40, brings her children to the library because the programs are so interesting to them. Dante, age 10, felt that the library helped him learn better. Dashirah, age 17, liked the library because it gave her a place where she could think by myself. But it is not just for kids. Josh, age 26, noted that the accessible technology in the library gave him access to job opportunities. Andrea, age 34, commented that the library is to her a “peaceful respite and source of new beginnings.”
So, yes, the future is coming, and like the libraries in Lycoming County, they are learning to reinvent themselves to meet the needs of a changing world. As we become more aware and prepare, we should not in the process miss the blessings of the now. As the saying goes, “Yesterday's the past, tomorrow's the future, but today is a gift. That's why it's called the present.”

 


 
STEM opportunities for High School Students in Lycoming County
By Evelyn Griffith, Yahya Khan, Molly Lusk, and Anna Griffith, Loyalsock Township High School

“The future of the economy is in STEM,” said James Brown, the executive director of the STEM Education Coalition in Washington, D.C. Employment in occupations related to STEM — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — is projected to grow to more than 9 million between 2012 and 2022, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Yet, the shortage of U.S. citizens working in STEM occupations is expected to reach over 1.2 million by 2024.
Discovery Machine Inc. (DMI) has made it a corporate initiative to provide students with internships that familiarize them with what a career in a STEM field might look like.
As part of DMI's STEM initiative, the company hosted two student interns from Loyalsock Twp. High School to provide them with real-world experiences. DMI, a small business in downtown Williamsport, specializes in artificial intelligence for clients including the US Navy, US Air Force, and US Marine Corps. Building upon military success, DMI now provides commercial training needs for healthcare, energy, and business markets as well.
Yahya Khan, Class of 2020: “Interning as a high schooler is an important and valuable experience for anyone interested in college. Having the opportunity to gain exposure to a career field is imperative to decide whether it’s something that’s for you or not. During the summer of 2017, I was able to intern at DMI as a software engineer. During my internship, I gained firsthand experience for how a company is operated and how engineers work together to create products.
“While interning, I learned about software development and implementing skills with different aspects of programming. I was able to write my own code to make a 3D model for an immersive simulation. The process made me realize the infinite possibilities for creating different scenarios with DMI software. At DMI it is essential to be able to make different kinds of simulations, considering what their customers expect. Navy training simulations are much different than hospital training simulations, for instance.
“I also worked on testing simulations for errors, making primitive models, and creating artificial intelligence behaviors that make their own decision based on the environment. My favorite work included making simulations that trained people in the healthcare industry. I valued this work as it gave me an initial exposure to see how hospitals function in such a cohesive and near flawless manner.
“Being an intern at DMI has also opened up exciting opportunities for me. Because of my internship, I was able to speak at the Lycoming Chamber of Commerce stressing the importance of internship programs in all fields. Having this opportunity was very rewarding. Speaking about my internship in such a formal setting to a group of business leaders was not only humbling but something that I can talk about when it comes to college applications in the future. Being afforded chances like this is enlightening and something that more companies should participate in when it comes to high school students. I think a misconception among businesses is that students wouldn’t be interested in career-oriented opportunities. However, DMI has shown me that even active high schoolers, in a multitude of sports and other activities, who are interested in getting involved with companies still can. Internships extend the knowledge of students so they can gain work experience in a meaningful way that helps them make better decisions moving forward.”
Evelyn Griffith, Class of 2020: “My internship was a great experience. It offered me a new outlook on scientific careers everywhere and has offered lots of insight as to what a programming career may be like. My background started with my parents having a career in computer software programming. That gave me a lot of unique opportunities to expand my knowledge and learn before I even started my internship. However, when I started my internship, I was still a beginner. I went in knowing close to nothing in comparison to the people that I worked with, but throughout the summer, my skill level improved.
“Throughout this internship, I found things that I liked and things that I didn't like. A few things that I found to be interesting were Blender, RESITE, and Audio Recording. Blender allowed me to create new simulations to put into the "games" that DMI created. RESITE allowed me to actually create the games, and Audio Recording allowed me to place my voice in the simulation so that the character's communication would have sound.
“At the beginning of the internship, I expected that it would be very hard and intimidating. Both were true. It was hard for me, as a teenager, to work with adults and people that had much more experience than me. I also expected that it would be fun and interesting. This was a very true prediction. However, the internship still had its challenges. When interning at a computer software company, you are expected to be able to learn on your own and use the equipment that you are given, but I was never taught some of the basic things that I needed to know. It was a challenge for me to learn to use the software that was given to me, but eventually, I figured it out, and I am now able to be more productive by myself and focus on my work.
“When I was in the internship, there were a few things that I was hoping to take away. Of course, I wanted things like references for future applications and colleges. However, I also took away some valuable life skills. I learned how to work with people who are more experienced than me, take constructive criticism, manage my time, and most importantly how to ask for help. These are important things that I think many high schoolers don’t understand. And the fact that I was given the opportunity to learn these things (as well as a little bit of programming) puts me ahead of the game, and will without a doubt improve my chances to be successful in the future."
As DMI continues its STEM initiative, they would like to urge the local community to do so as well. Increasing high school internship experiences will help make our graduating seniors the most competitive in the country.


Donations Sought By YWCA For Homeless Outreach And Point-in-Time Survey
By Lou Hunsinger Jr.

The YWCA of Northcentral Pennsylvania is in the forefront in assisting with the social problem of homelessness, to that end the “YW” will be involved in an effort to identify the needs and provide for the needs of this population.
According to officials at the YWCA, the homelessness service providers of Lycoming County are seeking items to distribute to individuals on the night of January 24 during the annual point-in- time (PIT) during which volunteers canvass the entire county to get a real-time picture of homelessness in our area.
Items such as basic hygiene supplies, socks, hats, gloves, scarves, flashlights, matches, blankets, snacks, handwarmers and more are needed so those who are living in homelessness can have an increased sense of safety, warmth and dignity.
All items donated will be distributed in rugged, durable uniquely-designed CITYPAK backpacks, designed to uniquely meet the constantly changing needs of the homeless. Packs are made of ballistic nylon, include straps for a bedroll, an integrated poncho to keep both the individual and their possessions dry and anti-theft webbing loops so the pack can be hooked onto an arm or leg when needed.
This street-level survey is required by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the largest funding source for services and programs for homeless individuals. The information gathered through this process influences the services HUD provides and is used in creating regional planning efforts to work toward the goal of ending homelessness.
To help with this survey, or are interested in lending a hand in anyway, contact Tara Day-Ulrich at the YWCA at (570) 322-4637, ext. 117, or email tday@ywcawilliamsport.org.
The PIT count is facilitated by the Lycoming County Housing Alliance, which includes representatives from the YWCA, Journey House, Family Promise, American Rescue Workers, Salvation Army, Central PA Food Bank, West Branch Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission, Lycoming County Pre-Release Center,
Transitional Living Center, Nurse Family Partnership and the United Way.
The Housing Alliance facilitated a count in the Fall 2014 and sixty-six individuals, including 19 accompanied children under the age of 18.

 


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Dream Week and Day of Service January 15-18
By Lou Hunsinger Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lived a life dedicated to service to others and calling attention to and helping to fight injustice. This is the theme of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dream Week and Day of Service that will take place January 15 to 18.
The event begins on Monday, January 15, the day that would have been Dr. King’s 89th birthday, with an MLK Peace Walk, Rally and Day of Service.
The event will be held at Pennsylvania College of Technology in the Bardo Gymnasium. Doors open at 8:30 a.m. for registration for service projects.
Volunteers will be sent to several community service providers in Lycoming and Clinton counties. Most of the service provider agencies are in Williamsport.
Locations for Service Projects include the West End Christian Community Center, the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, Firetree Place, Saving Grace Shelter, the American Rescue Workers Thrift Stores in Williamsport and Jersey Shore, the Salvation Army in Lock Haven, the Salvation Army locations on Dewey Ave. and on Lycoming Mall Drive, New Love Center Food Pantry, Transitional Living Center, the River Valley YMCA in Williamsport, Family Promise of Lycoming County, Sojourner Truth Ministries, and the Center City Food Pantry.
There will be a short PeaceWalk through the nearby neighborhood at 9 a.m. The walkers will return to Bardo Gym for warm refreshments and to listen to guest speakers.
Afterwards, the volunteers will be sent to their service projects (approximately 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m.).
Events continue on Tuesday, January 16, at 7 p.m. at Lycoming College Clarke Chapel 700 College Place, Williamsport, with Lift Every Voice and Sing – A Celebration of Dr, King's life. (2018 will mark 50 years since his death.) Various members of the community will sing and read poetry, in honor of Dr. King's life.
On Wednesday, January 17, 2018, at 5 p.m. at Christ Community Worship Center, 436 West Fourth Street, Williamsport, will be Unity Through Understanding. Doors open at 5 p.m., light dinner will be available. At 5:30 p.m. members of the community will engage in conversation in a Round Table discussion about Unity through Understanding.
The week’s festivities conclude on Thursday, January 18, 2018, at 7 p.m. at Pennsylvania College of Technology’s ACC Auditorium with a program devoted to Community Unity.
Coach Herman Boone, the inspiration for the movie “Remember the Titans” (2000) starring Denzel Washington, will be the keynote speaker. In 1971 Coach Boone, amid much rancor and racial tensions formed a winning high school football team.
All events are free and open to the public.
This event is sponsored and promoted by STEP, Inc., AmeriCorps, the Beloved Community Council, the Pennsylvania College of Technology and Lycoming College.

 
 
 
 
 
 
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