Eleanor Klibanoff

Keystone Crossroads Reporter

Eleanor Klibanoff was WPSU's reporter for Keystone Crossroads, a statewide reporting collaboration that covers the problems and solutions facing Pennsylvania's cities. Previously, Eleanor was a Kroc Fellow at NPR in DC. She worked on the global health blog and Weekend Edition, reported for the National desk and spent three months at member station KCUR in Kansas City. Before that, she covered abortion politics in Nicaragua and El Salvador, two of the seven countries in the world that completely ban the procedure. She's written for Atlanta Magazine, The Nicaragua Dispatch and Radio Free Europe. 

Eleanor lived outside Philadelphia until the age of 11, when she moved to Atlanta. She graduated from the George Washington University with a degree in Political Communication. 

Once the largest U.S. rail company, the Pennsylvania Railroad ceased operations nearly half a century ago. But volunteers are researching and protecting that history at the station in Lewiston, Pa.

Eleanor Klibanoff is a reporter for Keystone Crossroads, a statewide public media initiative reporting on the challenges facing Pennsylvania cities.

AP Photo

 

The last eight years were pretty good for the relationship between Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania's major cities. President Obama made visits to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and the Democratic leadership in both cities worked closely with his administration. Sure, there's always room for more funding and more cooperation, but their progressive policies met little resistance from the Commander in Chief. 

Courtesy of Stockton Williams, ULI

 

The traditional narrative goes like this: After World War II, upper and middle class white families fled the inner cities for the suburbs. They were chasing the "American Dream" of white picket fences, two car garages and shopping centers you could drive to. The children of those Baby Boomers grew up, fought back and now, are moving back to the cities.

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

 

The holiday season came a little early this year for community development organizations that got a piece of $7 billion in tax credits allocated by the Department of the Treasury last week. The New Market Tax Credits program helps low-income or economically distressed cities attract investors in commercial projects. 

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

 

Lewistown, Pennsylvania, sits halfway between State College and Harrisburg, nestled in the Seven Mountains. To get to Lewistown, you can drive in on Route 322, a twisty, turny, two-lane highway, where the speed limit for trucks is 20 miles per hour. 

Or, you can take Amtrak and enjoy old-timey Lewistown Station, the first building built by the Pennsylvania Railroad, back in 1849. Today, it's a one-room waiting area staffed by volunteers who sell sodas out of a mini-fridge and Pennsylvania Railroad memorabilia off the walls. 

Mel Evans / AP Photo

 

If last week's election taught us anything, it's that polling and predictions don't always match up to the final outcome. By 2020, we may have resorted to reading signs in tea leaves or the stars to guess who the next president will be. 

Or, should we just watch Luzerne County?

Eleanor Klibanoff / WPSU

Linda Straub never thought she'd be so invested in a presidential election that she would attend a watch party on election night. But there she was, at Zach's Sports Bar in Altoona with the Blair County Republicans, cheering Donald Trump as he took Iowa.

"This is the first time ... I'm 54 years old and this is the first time that I feel that I'm actually electing my president," said Straub, from her spot on the bar's covered patio. "He is my president."

Eleanor Klibanoff / WPSU

 

Over the course of the last year, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his running mate Mike Pence have made a number of stops in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Most of the supporters waiting in line outside the Lackawanna College Student Union on Monday afternoon knew the routine. 

AP Photo / Matt Rourke

 

Don't let last weekend's 70 degree weather fool you. Winter is coming, and quickly. Soon, it will be time to turn on the heater. But for many Pennsylvanians, that might be a luxury they can't afford. 

Eleanor Klibanoff / WPSU

On Friday, about 50 volunteers gathered in downtown State College. They were calling prospective Hillary Clinton voters, encouraging them to get out and vote on or before Election Day. The were joined by a special guest — Democratic Senator Al Franken of Minnesota.

Before he was a senator, Franken was a comedian on Saturday Night Live. Speaking to the crowd Friday night, Franken proved he could still crack a joke.

Nam Y. Huh / AP Photo

 

As the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians head to the diamond for the final games of the World Series, Carmine Parlatore will be in her living room, on the edge of her seat. Parlatore hasn't been waiting for a Cubs win since 1908 like some fans. Just since 2015, when her brother, Joe Maddon, became the manager of the team. 

Now, her family — and the city of Hazleton — is on board with Chi-town. 

Jessica Kourkounis / Keystone Crossroads

 

After more than two years of contentious legal battles, Uber and Lyft may operate legally in Pennsylvania. On Monday, the Senate voted 47-1 to allow ride-hailing services to operate in the state — and to begin regulating them as their own transportation entity. Governor Tom Wolf plans to sign the legislation. 

Jessica Kourkounis / Keystone Crossroads

 

When an immigrant living in the United States illegally gets arrested, the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency may issue a detainer request for that person. Detainers ask that the local jail hold that person for up to 48 hours until ICE has a chance to come pick them up. 

Sanctuary cities — or counties, since counties run the jails in Pennsylvania — are places where officials refuse to detain immigrants after they have made bail or their charges are dropped. For Senator Pat Toomey, this is a problem.

Eleanor Klibanoff / WPSU

 

Democratic vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine came to State College on Friday afternoon. Though he bashed Donald Trump and praised his running mate's debate performance, it was clear that Kaine knew what this crowd wanted to hear.

"I don't know if the college affordability issue is of concern to anyone at Penn State," Kaine joked as the crowd laughed — or groaned.

He laid out Hillary Clinton's plan to make post-secondary education accessible for everyone.

 

Eleanor Klibanoff / WPSU

 

Thursday night, a storm system swept across Centre County, dumping seven to eight inches of rain in under three hours. In the Bald Eagle Valley, basements, sheds and low-lying homes began to fill up with water.

 

County Commissioner Mike Pipe says by 3 a.m., Centre County decided to declare a disaster emergency.

“Evacuation of the Milesburg area occurred in the morning hours," said Pipe. "And it was not just residents in Milesburg, but also the personal care home Eagle Valley that was fully evacuated.”

Keystone College

 

Keystone College is a small liberal arts school in a rural area outside of the city of Scranton. No part of that preceding sentence screams "high earning potential."

But for graduates of Keystone College, salary might not be the most important consideration when getting a job after graduation. Many students want to go into the non-profit world, become teachers or pursue careers in the arts. Others want to stay close to family in Northeastern Pennsylvania, even if it means taking a lower-paying job. 

The U.S Advisory Council on Human Trafficking issued its first-ever report on Tuesday. This group was founded last year when President Obama appointed 11 people, all of whom are survivors of human trafficking themselves, to run the council.

Two weeks ago, Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti hard, devastating the southern end of the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

It's hard to look at the photos coming out of Haiti and not be moved to action. But if you're thinking now is the time to hop on a plane and get involved in disaster relief work, groups working on the ground have one piece of advice: pump the brakes.

 

This is the first in a three-part series about reporting sexual assault in Centre County. 

Millheim isn’t much more than a waypoint between State College and Lewisburg, located in rural Penns Valley. Recently, though, it’s been attracting newcomers interested in a low-cost, low-stress lifestyle.

 

One of those new arrivals was Rebecca Fetterolf.

 

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

On this episode of Grapple, we follow a thread of narratives about leaving and staying in Scranton with one of our reporters who’s got a personal connection to the city. Conversations include the ups and downs of business in the area, whether Scranton’s newest immigrants are fitting in, and how cheap housing and little crime could help Scranton grow again. At its peak, this northeastern Pennsylvania city had 140,000 people. Today there are about half that number of people.

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

 

Over the past few years, in the economic development world, there has been some whispering.

Researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank caught wind of a growing suspicion that donations and grants from foundations were being funneled into just the largest, most well-off cities in the country. Small and mid-sized cities, as well as those deemed economically distressed, were getting ignored by these large, national money-givers. 

Eleanor Klibanoff in front of the city of Scranton.
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

In this special broadcast of Take Note on WPSU, you’ll hear excerpts from a new show from Keystone Crossroads. It's called “Grapple,” and it gives voice to people living and working in distressed communities across Pennsylvania. You’ll hear conversations that help tell the story of America’s profound economic and social changes. Including how places have changed over time to what distressed communities are grappling with today. 

Mike Pence in front of crowd
Eleanor Klibanoff / WPSU

On a rainy Wednesday night, Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Mike Pence addressed about 400 fans at a trucking company outside Scranton.

 

Standing between two large Kenworth truck tractors, Mike Pence talked about industry and integrity. Pence said this election was about one thing, above all else:

 

“It’s about upholding the highest standard of integrity in the highest office in the land,” Pence said.

 

The crowd cheered when Pence talked about helping businesses.

 

Keith Srakocic / AP Photo

 

In Pennsylvania, seven out of 10 workers don't have a college degree. That's a demographic that has been particularly hard hit by unemployment and wage declines since the 1980s. 

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

 

    

On a Friday night in Altoona, the Blair County Convention Center was packed to the rafters with Donald Trump supporters. There was an overflow room downstairs and a crowd waiting outside that couldn't get in. Trump discussed everything from ISIS to Supreme Court justices. 

But it was the talk of jobs that got the crowd excited. 

"We are not going to let your jobs leave, folks," Trump said, to a roar of cheers. "We're not going to let it happen. They're not going to Mexico. They're not going anywhere else. 

Carolyn Kaster / AP Photo

 

What do Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden have in common? They both have roots in Scranton, and they both love talking about it. Biden poked fun at this tendency during his speech Monday at the Riverfront Sports venue in downtown Scranton. 

"If you listen to Barack [Obama], you'd think I was a kid that just climbed out of a coal mine with a lunch box from Scranton," he said. "I'm the kid from Scranton." 

Jerry Sandusky entering courthouse with paperwork
AP Photo / Gene J. Puskar

A grinning Jerry Sandusky, dressed in an orange jumpsuit, entered a Centre County courtroom Friday morning, waving to a small handful of supporters. The former Penn State assistant football coach is almost four years into a 30 to 60-year sentence for child sexual abuse, most of which has been spent in solitary confinement for his own protection.

Each day, 520 trucks with more than 7,000 tons of garbage trundle through the potholed streets of Dunmore and Throop, Pa. The two small towns, just outside Scranton, are home to the Keystone Sanitary Landfill. The trash, however, comes from all over — just about half arrives from out of state.

Keystone Sanitary recently requested a 40-plus-year extension of its permit, which is slated for another eight years, but local activists are pushing back.

Min Xian
WPSU

 

While all Democratic eyes are on Philadelphia, Republicans were lining up a few hours north, in Scranton. On Wednesday afternoon, Republican nominee Donald Trump made an appearance with his running mate, Mike Pence. The 2,000 seat auditorium at Lackawanna College was full of proud Trump supporters, ready to hear about jobs, trade and immigration reform.

Two of Trump's most enthusiastic supporters in Congress, Pennsylvania Representatives Tom Marino and Lou Barletta warmed up the crowd.

Becca DeGregorio
WPSU

 

 Duncan Ackerman, a Penn State senior majoring in Community and Economic Development, has spent the whole summer getting to know the store owners in downtown Lock Haven. He rattles off the names of restaurants, hair salons and stores in the small Clinton County town.

"Next to the Texas, we have the Willets Copiers, we have the Masonic Temple ... we have Nerd Haven, we have a vacant storefront, then we have Vape Haven."

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