State Rep. Jerry Knowles will be the guest speaker at the 63rd Annual Banquet of the Panther Valley Irish-American Association to be held on Wednesday, March 17, in Lansford.

Knowles will deliver the keynote address during the program honoring Tamaqua resident Tom McCarroll as Irishman of the Year.

The dinner and program will take place at The Grand Ballroom of Kelly's Irish Pub, beginning with a social hour from 5:30-6:30 p.m., and followed by the dinner and program.

Bill O'Gurek Jr. of Summit Hill, president of the association, will present the Shamrock Award to McCarroll for his longtime involvement in the Tamaqua community, including athletics and the fire service, as well as his role in assisting the American Cancer Society in fundraising and raising the level of cancer awareness.

Like McCarroll, Rep. Knowles has spent most of his life in service to the people of the 124th Legislative District, which he has headed since winning a special election to the vacant seat last year. Prior to that, he was the director of special projects for then Rep. David Argall, for whom he worked for more than 10 years.

His career of public service, however, began at an early age when he joined the Tamaqua Police Department. He later was elected to borough council and served as Tamaqua mayor before serving six years as a Schuylkill County commissioner.

In addition to his professional endeavors, Knowles is also active in the local community, serving as board member and a past president of the Tamaqua Industrial Development Enterprise and the Tamaqua Area Chamber of Commerce.

He also served on the board of the Carbon-Tamaqua Unit of the American Cancer Society and is a member of the Knights of Columbus Lodge No. 2711, the South Ward Fire Company, Tamaqua, Tamaqua Lions Club, Elks Lodge No. 592, Tamaqua, and the Schuylkill County Republican Executive Committee.

A lifelong resident of Schuylkill County, Knowles is a graduate of Marian Catholic High School and the Thaddeus Stevens Trade School, Lancaster.

He and his wife, Lorraine, currently reside in Tamaqua. They have two grown sons and a grandchild.

Pre-dinner entertainment will be provided by bagpiper John Bottomley during the social hour, while Summit Hill's Pat and Shane McGeehan will sing and play Irish selections during the program.

Tickets for the affair can be obtained from the following association members: Summit Hill, Bob Crampsie; Lansford, Emmett McCall; Coaldale, Bob Ames; and Tamaqua, McCarroll.