The Tamaqua Blue Raider Foundation (TBRF) presented two Tamaqua seniors with the Joseph M. Plasko Scholar-Athlete scholarship award. The award, named in honor and memory of the late Joe Plasko, a local journalist and Pencor Services, Inc./TIMES NEWS employee who supported education, arts and athletics in the Tamaqua Area School District, was awarded to Anthony Iacoviello, 18, and Kelsey Patrick, 17.

Iacoviello plans to study biochemistry at Lehigh University. Patrick plans to study physical therapy at Lebanon Valley.

Eric Zizelmann, member, TBRF, said, "These awards are honored in perpetuity through a scholarship bearing Joe's name."

Last year, Pencor, Inc., publisher of the TIMES NEWS, donated $1,200 to launch the Joseph M. Plasko Scholar-Athlete Fund through the Tamaqua Blue Raider Foundation. Members pointed out that the Pencor Services, Inc., donation has allowed for annual scholarships to be presented to a male and female scholar-athlete selected by the school district.

Plasko, who served as TIMES NEWS Tamaqua bureau chief, passed away unexpectedly on March 22 of last year, just one week after his 50th birthday.

Robert A. Miller, III, foundation president, said, "The foundation's move in setting up the fund is meant to honor the contributions made by Plasko to local athletics and education, and for his unwavering support of the goals of the foundation."

The Blue Raider Foundation is a 501(c) 3 corporation that supports, promotes, sponsors and carries out educational, scientific and charitable activities and objectives related to the school district.

"We just can't say enough about Joe's cooperation," said Miller, who recalled Plasko's enthusiasm in helping to spread the word back in 2009, and afterward, as the foundation was set up and launched.

Members said that tax deductible donations to augment the new scholarship fund are welcome and can be made to: Tamaqua Blue Raider Foundation, 109 West Broad St., Tamaqua, Pa. 18252.

The foundation's website states that the TBRF was privately established to assist the Tamaqua Area School District in funding projects that fall outside of the school district budget, acts autonomously, and enlists individuals, corporations and foundations in charitable resource-raising activities to assist students to achieve their maximum potential. Members pointed out that no tax dollars are involved with the foundation.

Members of the TBRF board consist of Elizabeth Dal Santo, Executive Director; Robert Miller III, President; Walter Kruczek, Vice President; Jeffrey Bowe, Esq., secretary; Eric Zizelmann, treasurer; Stephanie Akins; Rep. Jerry Knowles; Peter Uhlig Sr.; and Dr. Joanne Calabrese.

The group is intended to supplement the district and not replace other fundraising organizations, such as athletic and band boosters. It is also not an affiliate of the school board or the district's administration but operates independently of them.

For more information about the Tamaqua Blue Raider Foundation, go to www.TamaquaBlueRaiderFdn.org [1].

"These two recipients are representative of Joe's spirit and dedication to athletic and scholar achievements," added Zizelmann.