Alright, maybe summer is beginning to disappear. It’s never too early to prepare for the colder months ahead. On second thought, we suppose it could be, but autumn is the perfect time to tackle those jobs you’ve been putting off. Procrastination is never the solution, but everyone gets busy, especially once the school year ramps up again. A fall home checklist can appear bottomless and anything that’s overwhelming is often ignored. To prevent that from happening, we’ll keep these home hotspots short and sweet, so you can get back to watching football with family and friends!

There are two essential areas you’ll want to concentrate on this fall:

Heat

You need heat to cook those burgers and dogs at a tailgate party, as you watch linebackers bring it on opposing quarterbacks, but attention should likewise be directed toward your heating systems as cold weather approaches. You’ll want to have your fireplace(s) serviced, particularly if it’s wood-burning. Have a certified chimney inspector evaluate and clean your fireplace/stove(s) and chimney(s) throughout your entire home. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), each year in the home, there are close to 18,000 fires caused by wood-burning appliances in addition to almost 1,500 injuries and multiple casualties due to home heating equipment fires. These are preventable. It’s important to hire a reliable chimney service to assure there are no defects such as a cracked flue liner nor a build-up of creosote and soot.

Gas fireplaces and furnaces should be evaluated yearly to ensure there’s proper venting and they’re operating well. One of the biggest mistakes a homeowner can make is failing to run their heating system until it’s so cold that it’s needed to keep everyone warm. Be proactive, so you’re not at the mercy of an HVAC repair person when the temperatures drop, your furnace is in need of rehabilitation and they have a long list of customers to attend to prior to your appointment.

If time permits, the homeowner should check the exterior seals around window frames and doors to make certain heat isn’t escaping from inside their home.

Water

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, water is the root of all evil when it comes to your dwelling or housing investments. Water has the potential to wreak havoc in your home and if you’re not cautious seemingly smaller issues can become big ones overnight. The two main areas you’ll want to give attention to are the roof and the foundation. Snow, rain and ice can penetrate your home through any vulnerable surface on the roof (i.e. missing or compromised shingles) or cracks in the foundation. Ice-wedging might too become a headache for some, but generally speaking looking for visible signs of damage is a critical first step. If you find any troublesome spots after you perform a site survey, make sure to contact a qualified professional who can mend the roof or foundation. If there’s extra time, you can inspect the grading around the premises to confirm water isn’t collecting near its foundation.

Downspouts and gutters should still be examined to ensure debris isn’t collecting, impeding water from the roof in any way. As previously mentioned, it’s imperative that water flows away from the house. Debris may or may not be found in the property’s gutters and this varies widely on the number and size of deciduous trees surrounding the home. Obviously, you or a professional gutter cleaner should patiently wait until a majority of the leaves have fallen from the trees.

Close any shut-off valves from inside the home, which attend to outside plumbing. Drain those lines. Turn off exterior spigots, drain/store all hoses that were being used and winterize piping exposed to the winter elements.

Check for any gaps about the home, notably those around pipes, where water may enter the property causing structural damage or the potential for mold.

 

There are numerous other things you can accomplish as you prep for the changing seasons, such as changing or cleaning your furnace filter, replacing the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, reviewing with your family your emergency procedures, clearing your home of clutter, giving your hardwoods and carpeting a thorough, deep clean… the list goes on and on. Again, we wanted to keep it concise, focusing on heat and water.

Winter is coming! It’s not a stretch to say these tips are a Song of Ice and Fire. We have faith you can address these areas for the chillier months ahead. Sooner than later it will be time to bundle up and get your house in order – at least we hope in more order than King Viserys’ house is.

Black-eyed Susans are in full bloom, raging across gardens and hillsides in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Chatter has begun about picking apples, not blueberries, from an orchard near you. Ritters, anyone? Sure, Dunkin Donuts is now showcasing its Blood Orange Refresher, claiming it’s their seasonal drink. Schools are reopening for the new academic year. Football has begun again! Did you catch yesterday’s Backyard Brawl thriller? The unofficial end to summer happens this Labor Day weekend. And yes, this morning was a little chilly, I must say, but I’m holding onto summer this year!

We lack the four seasons in our region, we really do. Spring, in recent years, is a mixture of winter slop and daffodils and crocuses refusing to make up their minds whether it’s time to sprout or not. Autumn seems hidden behind the winter breeze that kidnaps the summer heat. When summer finally gets into motion, department stores are cramming Halloween decor and Christmas lights into our shopping carts. Don’t get me wrong, fall is my favorite, absolute favorite season of the year. [I even purchased a case of Founders’ Oktoberfest a few days ago – shhhh!] I’m just not willing to surrender to autumn this year. I don’t care how many times you shout pumpkin spice!

Summer hasn’t made an exit yet. In fact, I had sand between my toes only days ago and a sunburn on my right arm.

Real estate may likewise side with my position. It appears, like me, it could be summer dreaming. Some of its optics exude traditional summer responses. More properties have gone under contract in August of this year as opposed to August of 2021 and the housing supply remains dismal, 1.65 months supply, last time I checked. Keep in mind, a balanced market with normal inventory levels produces a month’s supply between five and seven. Nevertheless, as much as I hate to admit it, our market’s leaves are changing color. Sold listings through last month, year-to-date, are down 6.4%. New listings, likewise, are down month-over-month, when compared to last August, by over 23%. Perhaps this market has had enough of the surge it experienced over the previous twenty-six months (give or take).

Could it be that homebuyers, much like blueberry-pickers of July and August, have had their fill? They’ve looked at the entire inventory (which hasn’t been much), they’re fatigued by record-setting inflation and mortgage rates that don’t look as appealing as they did this past January. Although there’s certainly an element of truth to these pressures, the strain has been on buyers for some time now, our market remains rather healthy. When will inventory increase and the market become more balanced? That’s really anyone’s guess at this point – industry experts have yet to nail that down. In spite of that, year-to-date, there’s been a 19.9% increase in homes sold this year opposed to only five years ago in 2017.

We’re looking forward to a change in season in real estate, after all buyers need reprieve too! But summer wants to stick around this year (it told me so). We hope you can enjoy the few remaining weeks of the season.

* statistics from the Greater Scranton Board of REALTORS® (August 2017 – August 2022)

 

Whatever season you find yourself in, make sure to use our “search by city” feature and discover all our area has to offer.

The search for a home begins online. It has for some time. In fact, consumers are surveying the terrain and pouncing on anything that hits the market like a school of piranha, unsure of when their next opportunity to eat will surface. You can’t blame homebuyers either. Today, the ones that remain, still looking to purchase, have repeatedly struck out in their attempts for homeownership. Now, feeling the pressures of inflation, higher mortgage rates and rising home prices, they’re looking to get in before the door closes on their “must-haves” and what they can afford.

The winds of a housing shortage have shifted, new listings with a slowdown in purchases have given way to more selection – finally some welcomed news for prospective shoppers. Yet the search becomes very real for them as they exit the digital environment, previewing actual houses, and doing so in a more urgent manner than buyers did only three years ago. Buyers should rely on the services of a real estate professional whenever possible, because representation is critical for protecting the interest of buyer-clients, especially in this market. And you probably have questions.

What type of real estate professionals exist today and what do they look like? There are four main distinctions homebuyers should be aware of, and they are: real estate agents, REALTORS®, REALTORS® with an ABR® designation and Brokers.

  • Real estate agents – Independent contractors who are connecting buyers and sellers and are licensed to help others rent, buy or sell real estate. Licensure requirements vary from state to state. These professionals should not be confused with REALTORS®, but regularly are.
  • REALTORS® – Licensed real estate agents who are also members of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and must likewise adhere to this organization’s code of ethics. These professionals can include real estate appraisers, salespeople, Brokers and more.
  • REALTORS® with ABR® designation – Members of NAR who have a particular skill set and frequently work with homebuyers in their day-to-day business. These professionals are usually more in accord with the trends affecting buyers and are equipped with knowledge to help their buyer-clients succeed.
  • Brokers – Licensed professionals who further their education, and if they so desire, can open their own real estate firm, hiring independently contracted agents to work under them. They perform many of the same tasks as the agents they hire, but there’s a distinction between the two.

A handful of real estate agents become Brokers after a period of time in the business. Often those pursuing licensure as a Broker are ready to dedicate more study to this field. They’ve firmly planted themselves within the real estate turf surrounding them. Having said that, real estate agents who aren’t Brokers can and are certainly encouraged to dedicate more time and study to the business as well.

What is it like to be a Broker? “The dynamics of real estate have changed significantly over the past five years, but the standards of practice remain the same,” emphasizes Dianne Montana, Principal Broker for Realty Network Group. “I enjoy working with a talented group of professionals, helping them thrive, ultimately paving the way for our clients to buy and sell successfully.” Being a Broker allows for additional independence (more than solely being an independent contractor), but with that comes greater responsibility. Brokers are responsible for supervising the agents in their Brokerage and ensuring the office/company is in compliance with national and state real estate laws and regulations. Real estate Brokers face their fair share of liability as well, and as such, it’s important for Brokers to possess an advanced skill set in order to be both distinguished and ethical.

As a homebuyer, which of these four types should you seek when actively looking to acquire property? There’s no clear cut choice, but a REALTOR® is definitely a great starting point. Those specializing in servicing buyers generally provide the best opportunity. Furthermore, a REALTOR® with an ABR® designation could be a perfect match, especially for first-time homebuyers. Can you go wrong with a Broker? Usually not, but it’s imperative that those pursuing real estate do their due diligence in finding a professional they can work well with, one who actively listens and has a tract record for success.

Summer is the best time of the year to explore Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA)! Alright, I lied, my favorite time of the year in our region is early autumn with cider donut runs, changing foliage and high school football back on the menu, but summer is easy on the eyes too. There’s plenty to see and do in the Greater Scranton area and we hope you can set aside some time to get busy and explore.

NEPA has diverse environments with everything from hiking trails to city streets and commercial businesses in the downtown areas of Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Dickson City, to name a few. You can explore much of this region from our “search by city” page.

Over the past two years, homebuyers have looked at their purchase slightly differently. Now, some buyers desire spaces where they can work-from-home. They want living spaces without open floor plans to allow for remote work in addition to having areas for their children to complete their homework and other ways to escape. Are open floor plans going out of style? Maybe, but the pandemic brought us here and we’ve taken notice of this trend in recent months. A modification in purchasing habits certainly happens from time-to-time. That’s why there are trends in the first place, but this one came on rapidly. Solitude in the home is welcomed and some buyers need walls for crying out loud. But if you can’t break from an open-concept home, perhaps living in a walkable community will help ground you and alleviate some of that stress.

In Northeastern Pennsylvania, walkable communities are slightly harder to discover, because after all, we have many rural areas. On the other hand, you can get just about everywhere in Scranton. While various parts of the city are certainly walkable and unique to the area (Green Ridge, North Scranton or the Hill Section immediately come to mind), car traffic has its day too. Is Scranton walkable? Yes, but it didn’t make our list. 

The tiny town of Jessup is nestled between Mount Cobb and the Lower Valley (Blakely) with a good mix of dwellings. There’s a rich heritage here, especially from those of Italian-American descent. The town is laid out well with the Casey Highway (Route 6) cutting through/above town, yet not obtrusive in any way. Jessup has a few parks for its residents to frequent, including Jessup Memorial Field Park & Kids Korner and Eales Preserve (a nature conservancy). Another bonus for inhabitants is the ease of access to the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail, in the north section of town. Shops and restaurants are within walking distance and most sit on Church Street or Hill Street. One drawback is walking access to grocery stores. For instance, the nearest one is approximately 1 to 2.5 miles depending on where you live. While some errands require car use in Jessup, the town does feature tourists at various times of the year and has access to public transit. Is Jessup walkable? Yes, but it didn’t make our list either.

Nonetheless, here are NEPA’s four most walkable communities:

Pittston

Location – Northeast of Wilkes-Barre, southwest of Scranton, in Luzerne County
Access – Route 11 and within close proximity to Interstate 81 and the northeast extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike
Walk Score – 76 
Highlights – Campbell’s Ledge is close to Pittston and for those who love to walk/bike, hop on the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail
Parks – Riverfront Park, Sullivan Park, Jefferson Park, James Clark Park, Albert West Park
Amenities – Restaurants and shops fill in Main Street as well as across the bridge in West Pittston (on/off Route 11)

Dunmore

Location – Neighboring Scranton on its east side
Access – Ranks very high with the ability to connect to Interstates 81, 84, 380/80 and the Casey Highway, all directly from town
Walk Score – 74
Highlights – Walking and biking around town is relatively easy with the wonderful sights of the Dunmore Cemetery and Marywood University. Scranton is relatively close too.
Parks – McHale Park (Dunmore Community Center), Sherwood Park, Saint Anthony’s Memorial Park
Amenities – Restaurants and shops along South Blakely and East Drinker Streets

Tunkhannock

Location – Northwest of Scranton in Wyoming County
Access – Route 6 and Route 29
Walk Score – 61
Highlights – Some of the cutest shops you’ll find outside of Clarks Summit and Honesdale, businesses are coming back into town and if you visit, you’ll see why
Parks – Riverside Park, McCord Park, Lazybrook Park
Amenities – Wonderful access to stores, restaurants and more on Tioga Street or Bridge Street; the Bypass has also helped keep much of the business/commuter traffic away from town

Old Forge

Location – Southwest of Scranton
Access – Quick ability to connect to the northeast extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Interstate 81 and Route 11
Walk Score – 59
Highlights – Pizza is a favorite here, but you probably already knew that
Parks – There are nearby parks, which are worth the trip, but other than softball and little league fields, there are no parks in this borough
Amenities – Superb access to restaurants, stores along Main and Oak Streets, grocery stores would need to be accessed by car

One of the great traditions in Northeastern Pennsylvania is to enjoy a “tray” of pizza from one of numerous establishments up and down the valley. I simply love NEPA with the number of choices available for the palate! Whether you like more cheese than sauce, more sauce than cheese, a more balanced approach, a thick crust, a thin one or a crunchy one, there’s something for everyone. The sky’s the limit (or close to it) with options that are either available for purchase or a new flavor yet to be unearthed. Understand it’s not as simple as it sounds – cheese, sauce, crust and toppings. There are a range of variables, and while a majority are covered within the region, award-winning flavors beyond NEPA prove there’s more pizza to be discovered.

I write this post from the focal point of our pizza region, Old Forge. In fact, I crave a slice, even though my belly is full. I contend the pizza industry in NEPA has never been as strong as it is today. Hopefully ingenuity and passion will continue to boost fame for pizza locally.

Just in the last few years, some notorious people, including Dr. Mehmet Oz and former President Donald J. Trump, have stopped by for a slice or more. And while there’s a rivalry between Scranton and Old Forge as to who’s the best – Dave Portnoy, the founder of Barstool Sports and pizza aficionado, made this clear when he visited pizza businesses in our area in 2019 and 2020 – some of the best pizza in NEPA goes well beyond these two towns.

Top Pizza

While it’s exceptionally difficult to say who’s the best pizza in our region, we’ve identified the ten finalists for that honor. We’d love to know your thoughts. Who does your favorite pizza restaurant happen to be? Did we miss anyone on our list? Please let us know by commenting below.

 

Top 10 Pizza Parlors (listed in no particular order):

Mary Lou's Pizza
Mary Lou’s Pizza (the best pizza in Old Forge? the new Revello’s Pizza?)

 

Pizza L'Oven
Pizza L’Oven (crunchy crust and make sure to get it with onions)

 

Colarusso's Coal Fire Pizza
Colarusso’s Coal Fire Pizza (if you relish pizza from the Campania region of Italia, you won’t be disappointed)

 

Angelo's Pizzeria
Angelo’s Pizza (this sweet sauce pizza ranks high)

 

Pizza Perfect
Pizza Perfect (a baked and fried Sicilian – yummy)

 

Maroni's Pizza
Maroni’s Pizza (new owner, same great taste)

 

Sabatini's Pizza
Sabatini’s Pizza (thin crust, outstanding sweet sauce)

 

Germana's Pizza
Germana’s Pizzeria (top destination in the northern tier counties?)

 

Rosario's
Rosario’s (the best vodka pizza in the area)

 

A Little Pizza Heaven
A Little Pizza Heaven (the Italian Stallion is quite savory)

 

Our favorite local pizza street/destination isn’t Main Avenue, Old Forge (though we have a satellite office there), but “pizza row” on Wyoming Avenue in Exeter. We challenge anyone to find three pizza restaurants on the same street within close proximity that are this good – Mariano’s La Puccia, Pizza L’Oven and Sabatini’s Pizza.

 

Honorable Mentions:

Shelley’s Pizza

Arcaro & Genell

Mariano’s La Puccia

Cebula’s Pizza

Andy’s Pizza

 

For more pizza reviews, make sure to check out NEPA Pizza Review.

Make sure to dress warm this year because the Festival of Ice 2022 will be a cold one. But we’re game, because nothing says “ice festival” like dripping sculptures! As of Friday morning, temperatures for this weekend’s festival in the Abingtons will hit highs of 28°, 13° and 24° F respectively, Friday (January 28th) through Sunday (January 30th).

This year’s theme may not be as captivating as some of the previous festivals in recent years, including Ice Wars (Star Wars) or Icetendo, but you have to admit there’s something majestic about the wilderness, even when it’s cold. The 17th Annual Clarks Summit Festival of Ice [though it should be the 18th Annual, 2021’s festival was also the 17th for some reason], titled “Frozen Wilderness,” will have a fierce display of sculptures this weekend. No, there won’t be an Elsa, but you’ll find a wolf, a wolverine, a reindeer, birds, bears and so much more.

Check this out, there’s even an elk outside our business!

Frozen Wilderness

We hope you can stop by Realty Network Group and catch a glimpse of this beauty. There’s also so much to do in and around downtown Clarks Summit. Support small business and shop State Street! Enjoy a hot chocolate, walk around and take in all the sights of the “Frozen Wilderness” compliments of Sculpted Ice Works and Darlene Sarcevic Milas (whose paintings you’ll find on storefronts).

The festival begins on Friday with a parade at 6 PM on State Street. Also, be sure not to miss Fire & Ice at the Waverly Community House [1115 North Abington Road in Waverly] happening from 1-3 PM on Saturday, January 29th, with a live carving demo at 1:30 PM on the front lawn – a polar bear and penguins. We’re sponsoring that event as well so be sure not to miss it.

It should be a memorable weekend and thankfully a cold one too! We hope to see you there.

 

Mark your calendars: The winter celebrations continue next weekend. February 4th-6th is the Scranton Ice Festival.

Downsizing your home is always a bit tricky. If you have a pet, it can become a hair more challenging. Luckily, with the right approach, you can downsize successfully. Here are some best practices that can help.

Plan For Your Home Showings

If you’re selling your current house, you’ll need to take some extra steps because you have a pet. Along with cleaning extra thoroughly to ensure there are no pet odors or errant fur, you’ll need to find a place for your pet to go during showings.

Leaving your pet roaming in your house during showings is never a good idea. It could put both your pet and visitors at risk. Plus, some prospective buyers might view your property as riskier, worrying about pet-related damage that could be present.

If you can’t keep your pet with you during showings, speak with family, friends or neighbors to see if they can help. Otherwise, consider a doggy daycare.

Pare Down Your Stuff Properly

As you downsize your stuff to prepare for a smaller property, don’t forget your pet’s needs. While taking a ratty pet bed or old toy with you might not seem necessary, bringing familiar, well-loved objects into the new house can make your pet more comfortable during the transition. So, make sure to keep a few older things that your pet adores. That way, they’ll be something familiar waiting for them in your new home.

Prepare For The Home Purchase

Before you start searching for a new home, you need to get your financial life in order. When you’re taking out a mortgage, the lender will examine your financial situation from several angles. Along with checking your income, credit score and financial assets, lenders will calculate your debt-to-income ratio to determine what you can afford.

You can check your own debt-to-income ratio by taking your monthly debt payment total and dividing that by your gross monthly income. Generally speaking, below 36 percent (0.36 for the calculation) is best. However, some lenders may go forward with a 43 percent, though that isn’t broadly the case.

Finding The Right New Home

Once it’s time to locate the right house for you and your pet, you want to be strategic. If you find a property that might meet your needs, take a moment to research animal-related regulations in that area. Some places have exotic animal and urban livestock restrictions. There can also be breed-specific legislation for dogs in some cities.

After determining that your pet is welcome in the city, examine the property with your pet’s needs in mind. Figure out if the property meets your cumulative requirements, as is, or if modifications might be necessary.

For example, you may need to add pet doors to allow your pet to freely enter and exit the house. Ramps might be a good addition if you have an aging or smaller pet and stairs could be a challenge. If a particular plant in the yard could harm your pet, you might need to remove it.

Another modification you might need to make is adding or replacing a fence. While this may seem like a simple undertaking, it’s actually incredibly cumbersome, especially if you’re working on it solo. As a result, connecting with local contractors in your area is usually a better bet.

Before you meet with a fencing contractor, discuss your needs and request quotes from several in your area. Read online reviews about Angi fencing professionals to learn more about the companies and make sure that they are licensed, bonded and insured and that they check for local utility lines before starting. On average, homeowners spend around $4,500 on a new fence (though the price does vary depending on materials, size and location). As a result, you want to make sure you get the best contractor for the job, ensuring it’s money well spent.

Downsizing and moving are difficult on their own, let alone when you have a pet involved. So, take some time to strategize the move, make sure your pet is well taken care of and be ready to embark on the next chapter of your life.

Whether you’re buying or selling a home, work with the experienced real estate professionals at Realty Network Group.

 

[This content is compliments of Furever Friend. Image for this post – Unsplash]

More than five years ago, we featured our top five pizza destinations in Northeastern Pennsylvania. And while much has changed since then, many of the same staples remain within our region. (Sauce, cheese and crust… It’s not that complicated, right?!) Actually, there are many styles and flavors of pizza in our area. If you don’t believe us, ask locals what their favorite pizza is and you’ll be amazed by the responses you’ll receive.

Northeastern Pennsylvania is home to some of the best pizza. Is there better pizza in America than what you’ll discover in the Pizza Capital of Pennsylvania? Absolutely (maybe New Haven, Connecticut?), but NEPA has a distinctly unique taste and variation to their pie (or trays as some may describe them) that you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. Barstool Sports founder and notorious pizza aficionado, David Portnoy, even made the trip into NEPA last year to give his opinion on Old Forge style pizza in addition to some well-known pizza spots in Wilkes-Barre, Exeter and Scranton.

Tour some of our favorites, especially during Lent, and let us know which ones we missed.

NEPA Pizza Hotspots (in no particular order):

Pizza L’Oven – Exeter
Colarusso’s Coal Fire Pizza – Dickson City
Arcaro & Genell – Old Forge
Angelo’s Pizza – Wilkes-Barre
Pizza Perfect – Trucksville
Maroni’s Pizza – West Scranton
Sabatini’s Pizza – Exeter
Gerry’s Pizzeria – Wilkes-Barre
Cebula’s Pizza – Dupont
Senape’s Tavern – Hazleton
Andy’s Pizza – Peckville
A Little Pizza Heaven – Scranton
Shelley’s Pizza – Luzerne
Rosario’s – Clarks Summit
Mariano’s La Puccia – Exeter

Check out NEPA Pizza Review. They do a fantastic job of reviewing some of the best and new pizza our region has to offer.

Honorable mentions:

Cali’s Don Tomaso – Dunmore
Two Guys From Italy – Factoryville
Cusumano – Old Forge
Pizza By Pappas – Scranton
Duke’s Pizza – Dunmore
Colarusso’s Cafe – Clarks Summit
Brick Oven Pizzeria – Scranton
Calabria Pizza – Dunmore
Germana’s Pizzeria – Nicholson
Amadeo’s – Moosic
Mary Lou’s Pizza – Old Forge

 

[Updated June 10, 2022]

 

See out latest pizza post here.

This weekend marks the 17th Annual Festival of Ice in Clarks Summit and the first ever during a pandemic. There are many “firsts” over the past eleven months in addition to new ways of working toward a solution, given certain restrictions. We’d be remiss if we didn’t take a moment to thank those in our community who’ve made a difference in the Abingtons and the Greater Scranton area. Of course, our clients and our agents have been difference-makers in 2020, our company had a tremendous year in large part due to them. With that being said, our real heroes – those who don’t often get the credit they deserve – are police officers, nurses, firefighters, doctors, other emergency medical personnel, cashiers, clerks, truck drivers, postal employees, daycare employees and other key members of our community who sacrifice for us daily.

As we thank and remember them, we invite you to celebrate winter this year at the Clarks Summit Festival of Ice: Hometown Heroes as we honor those on the frontline who make a difference. The festival, taking place February 12-14, 2021, is giving a “frozen salute” to our heroes on ice. The safest fun this year is “outdoor fun” and it should be an ideal weekend for it – not too cold nor too hot! So we hope to see you there.

This year’s festival will feature more than 50 ice sculptures, including one sponsored by Realty Network Group and Thirteen Olives (located at 222 Northern Boulevard; in the same plaza at PA Wine & Spirits). Hometown Heroes will also include eight live ice carvings performed by Sculpted Ice Works of Lakeville. Those live carvings will take place at the following locations:

Friday, February 12th:

  • 11:40 AM: Met Life (1028 Morgan Highway)
  •   2:00 PM: Noteology (312 South State Street)
  •   4:00 PM: The Ice House Wedding Barn (500 block of State Street)
  •   2:00 PM: Pocono Axe Works (Downtown Clocktower)

Saturday, February 13th:

  • 12:00 PM: City Market and Cafe (200 North State Street)
  •   2:00 PM: The Waverly Community House (1115 North Abington Road)
  •   4:00 PM: Met Life (Downtown Clocktower)
  •   6:00 PM: State Street Grill (114 South State Street)

We also need to give a big shout out to the Abington Business & Professionals Association who pulled this all together this year. Without them as well as the sponsors for this year’s event, there wouldn’t be a festival in 2021. Remember, admission to the festival is free, so don’t miss a great opportunity to enjoy winter (spring is right around the corner – we think?!).

Our hero: Letter Carrier (Postal Service)

As the postal service’s motto states, “We deliver through rain and sleet and snow and hail…” However, no one could have predicted what the postal workers had to face with a global pandemic. They have adapted and persevered, despite so many obstacles along the way. The U.S. Postal Service implemented strategies recommended by the CDC and kept on, even when COVID caused their workforce to be much smaller and the daily contact with others made their jobs risky. They never considered a mail shutdown and were out there every day making sure that people stay connected and businesses had all deliveries to stay open.

 

Take the Clarks Summit Festival of Ice quiz and you could win a prize!

Baked goods can stimulate those wonderful memories from our past, reminding us of people, places and occasions we hold dear to us. Behind these delicious treats we find the puppeteer, the one responsible for creating the experience or the memory. For the Religious Nuns and Friars of Saint Roger Abbey, the ones pulling the strings are looking to alleviate some of the pain the disadvantaged undergo. (More on those sweets later!)

This order of religious men and women (aka the Fraternité Notre-Dame) find their origin in 1977 in Fréchou, located in southwestern France, north of Lourdes. The order’s founder, Jean Marie Kozik, a Frenchman of Polish descent, was inspired by an apparition of the Virgin Mary. This inspiration propelled him to begin humanitarian efforts in France and beyond. Though this traditionalist Catholic order is not in union with the pope and the Church, they carry on a large part of its mission and continually pledge to help the most vulnerable throughout the world, including Paris, Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, Ulaanbaatar (the capital of Mongolia), to name a few. Charity travels, as the nuns and friars of Fraternité Notre-Dame have demonstrated over a period of only a few decades.

Recently, this young order has set its sights on Northeastern Pennsylvania, spreading its mission to Scranton in under fifty years. It’s remarkable, really! Their work has impacted the poorest of the poor in various regions of our country. Their mission is carried on through soup kitchens, after school programs, orphanages, schools, clinics and food nutrition services. They lift up the homeless, the suffering, families, care for lepers and prisoners. Their founder gained inspiration from God to help the poor and needy and that’s been their mission from day one. This worthy cause has arrived in the south side of Scranton.

How do they raise the funds for these works of charity? The nuns and friars of Saint Roger Abbey are able to serve through the generosity of their benefactors as well as many self-sustaining operations, such as breweries, wineries, gift shops and bakeries, to name a few. These religious, who have taken a vow of poverty, use their culinary talents and time to feed the outcast in society. They do it with much more than just physical food – In the spirit of Saint Teresa of Ávila, they are the hands, feet and body of Christ in this world.

They’ll be that in the Greater Scranton area too! Roughly two months ago, the Religious Nuns and Friars of Saint Roger Abbey closed on the multi-use commercial complex, located at 421 Hickory Street in Scranton, which they’ll use to cater to the less fortunate. The property sold for $650,000 through the efforts of nineteen-year veteran REALTOR®, Cheryl Gerrity, Realty Network Group. “I am thrilled to see these architecturally magnificent buildings being brought back to life and used for their intended purpose,” asserts Mrs. Gerrity. “The residents and business owners of South Scranton will most certainly benefit from the activity the Fraternité Notre-Dame will bring to our area.”

When you buy pastries from Saint Roger Abbey, you’re purchasing authentic and traditional French recipes, using the best organic ingredients available. These quality baked goods are virtually baked with love. When you buy from them, you provide relief to the physical and spiritual suffering of the destitute. See their catalog of freshly baked goodies here. They feature everything from macarons to French madeleines (reminiscent of Italian ciambrelli orange cookies) to chocolate croissants to tartlets to breton cakes and much more. Take a peek today and see all the great things the nuns and friars of Saint Roger Abbey will soon be doing for our community in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

In France they say, merci à l’avance, which means thanks in advance!