One Lebanon County business will engage in “remote tourism” to sell products by casting a wider net.

Area businessman John Noll, owner, with his wife, Joanna Guldin-Noll, of Swatara Coffee Company in Jonestown, shared his idea with the county commissioners for a marketing program that will send Lebanon Valley products across the country and possibly internationally.

Read More: Lebanon County SMB’s feel financial impact of COVID-19 pandemic

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Noll asked the county commissioners for a tourism grant of $8,915 during the commissioners’ virtual Zoom meeting on Thursday.

The commissioners approved Noll’s idea of filling boxes with Lebanon County products and sending them worldwide. The funding will be coming from the county hotel tax grant monies.

“The end goal (of the project) is to instill a desire for people outside the county to come visit Lebanon County – as soon as they’re allowed to,” said County Administrator Jamie Wolgemuth, who called the plan remote tourism.

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Noll’s plan is to fill boxes that can be shipped with nine different local specialties from Lebanon County, including Lebanon bologna, honey, coffee, tea, and spreads.

Also, 50 boxes will be donated to Visit Lebanon Valley, the county’s tourism marketer, for distribution at tourism-related events. They could possibly be given to bus tour guides in the hope that the products will be shared or given as door prizes for events.

Read more: Visit Lebanon Valley, virtually

“They can do what they want with the boxes,” Noll said. “They can use them for raffles or give them to influencers, to double the interest in Lebanon County.”

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During the recent shut-down of businesses, Swatara Coffee went online and sold to 47 of the 50 states, Noll said, indicating that a market is out there for the Lebanon Valley’s goods.

“Right now we’re building out the logistics (of shipping the products), but our goal is to keep the Lebanon Valley in people’s minds, so they come here and see what we have to offer,” Noll said.

The marketing idea would also help local farmers and businesses who supply the products, Wolgemuth said.

“I’m convinced this is a good opportunity for local business,” said Commissioner Bill Ames.

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Caseworker Appreciation Week set

In other business, the commissioners approved a proclamation for Caseworker Appreciation Week, in honor of the employees of Lebanon County’s Children and Youth Services. The proclamation was accepted by Erin Moyer, administrator of the county’s Children and Youth Services Department.

The proclamation coincides with Child Welfare Professionals Week, which is June 1-5. A number of caseworkers attended the meeting virtually through Zoom.

“It’s a challenging task to investigate charges of child abuse,” Wolgemuth said, praising the caseworkers for their efforts.

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It’s also a career that entails difficult emotional situations that can sometimes place the personal safety of caseworkers at risk. Caseworkers must develop a host of effective skills to productively work with families.

“They do unselfish work to protect Pennsylvania’s children,” Wolgemuth read. “They deserve special recognition for their dedicated efforts serving the children of Lebanon County.”

Chairman Bob Phillips (R) expressed his appreciation.

“Erin and her team do so much,” Phillips said. “The general public has no idea of the impact you have on our families.”

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Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz (D) also thanked the caseworkers for their service.

“I know how dedicated everyone is at Children and Youth,” Commissioner Litz said. “Erin, you’re leading a swell team and they are doing a stellar job.”

“I’m also proud of the job you are all doing,” Commissioner Bill Ames (R) told Moyer.

Moyer thanked her staff for the dedication they show everyday to the children and families they meet in their work.

Demolition days scheduled at the Gap

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In other business, David Weisnicht, Deputy Base Operations Manager at Fort Indiantown Gap, presented an update of the Gap’s recent operations to the commissioners.

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This coming Monday, with the county advancing to the yellow phase of the state’s reopening plan, the bulk of the workforce will be returning to the Gap, Weisnicht said.

Read more: Lebanon County is now officially in the “yellow phase” of state reopening plan

“Work never stopped,” Weisnicht said. “We’re heavily engaged in COVID-19 response, supporting local authorities throughout the state.”

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Weisnicht also wanted to alert county residents that demolition training known as the “big boom” will be happening on select days in June, including June 5, 12, 19, and 26.

Read more: Gap will host door gunnery, artillery, and controlled detonation training

Weisnicht didn’t want residents to be alarmed when they hear one “big boom” which is expected to happen between 2-3 p.m. on those days.

Artillery training will also he held from June 21-24, when residents can also expect to hear loud gunfire.

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“We want Lebanon County to know we’re working hard over here and the base is doing what they’re supposed to do, training the National Guard,” Weisnicht said.

Chairman Phillips expressed appreciation for the military base.

“Our neighbor [Fort Indiantown Gap] is so vital for national security, we appreciate all your help,” Phillips said.

Commissioner Ames told the commissioners that the local captain of the Salvation Army asked Ames to let the county officials know the Salvation Army was praying for them in these difficult times.

Michelle Edris, Lebanon County Human Resources Director, informed the commissioners of a bargaining agreement between the county and Chocolate Workers Local 464, which includes certain county telecommunication workers. The five-year agreement calls for pay increases of up to four percent each year.


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Full Disclosure: The campaigns of Bill Ames, Bob Phillips, and Jo Ellen Litz were advertisers on LebTown during previous election cycles. LebTown does not make editorial decisions based on advertising relationships and advertisers do not receive special editorial treatment. Learn more about advertising with LebTown here.

This article was updated to include more information on the Lebanon County “boxes” effort.