Min Xian

Reporter

Min Xian is a reporter for WPSU and Keystone Crossroads, covering news and public affairs in Central and Northern Pennsylvania. She reports on issues facing Central PA cities and rural communities, involving infrastructure, education, immigration and more. Before joining as a staff reporter, Min was a news intern for WPSU for a year.

Previously Min worked as a part-time videographer and photographer for Penn State College of Engineering. She was also a contributing writer and freelance photographer for the Centre Daily Times. She earned a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from Penn State University.

A native speaker of Mandarin and Cantonese, Min spends a lot of time coming up with headlines and puns.

Ways to Connect

An aerial photo shows damage to a Barnes & Noble Booksellers after Wednesday's severe weather system passed through Wilkes-Barre Township, Pa.
(AP Photo/Jimmy May)

The National Weather Service confirmed on Thursday that a tornado touched down in Wilkes-Barre Township on Wednesday night, damaging local businesses.

The National Weather Service sent a storm survey team from its Binghamton, New York office to assess the damage.

The team determined a tornado touched down near the Wyoming Valley Mall near Interstate 81 at around 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday. It traveled about half a mile before dissipating about an hour later.

Ambulance providers in Pennsylvania are enthusiastic about a bill advancing in the state legislature that would require insurance companies to reimburse EMS for calls that don’t end in a hospital trip.
VBaleha/BigStock

Ambulance providers in Pennsylvania are enthusiastic about a bill advancing in the state legislature that would require insurance companies to reimburse EMS for calls that don’t end in a hospital trip.

Currently, insurance companies aren’t required to pick up that cost.

“Even if we’re paid by the insurance companies, the insurance companies do not usually pay in full,” said Scott Rawson,  executive director of Centre LifeLink, an EMS provider in Centre County. “And their fee structure — it doesn’t cover our cost to provide the service.”

Ryan Burke, one of the former fraternity members charged in relation to the hazing death of Penn State student Timothy Piazza, entered a guilty plea on Wednesday.
Min Xian / WPSU

One of the former fraternity members charged in relation to the hazing death of Penn State student Timothy Piazza formally entered a guilty plea on Wednesday. It’s the first guilty plea in the case.

Appearing in the Centre County courthouse for the first time in this case, Ryan Burke pleaded guilty to all nine charges against him.

The Patton Township Board of Supervisors made changes to a proposed zoning code that would encourage affordable housing and allow more density. They heard public input on May 9th during a public hearing.
Min Xian / WPSU

The Patton Township Board of Supervisors made changes to a proposed zoning code that could apply to the Patton Crossing project on North Atherton Street in the State College area. The new version of the code encourages developers to build more affordable housing units while allowing more density.

 

Alisha Risser owns and runs a dairy farm in Lebanon county. Having been in the business for 17 years, Risser said consistently low milk prices in recent years have been really hard for farmers.
Min Xian / Keystone Crossroads

Along stretches of farmland on South Lincoln Avenue in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, you will notice yard signs with bright orange letters that read, “SAVE OUR LOCAL DAIRY FARMS.”

Alisha Risser owns one of those dairy farms.

Seventeen years ago, Risser and her husband started a contract with Swiss Premium, a brand of the national distributor Dean Foods. In those days, Risser said business was good.

Tara Hutchingame is a senior at State College Area High School. For the last few months, she has dedicated a lot of energy to helping her fellow students register to vote.
Min Xian / WPSU

 

The voter turnout rate among 18- to 29-year-olds is historically lower than any other age group nationwide. In State College, high school students who led the local protests against gun violence also worked to encourage young voters to go to the polls.

Tara Hutchingame is a senior at State College Area High School. For the last few months, she has dedicated a lot of energy to helping her fellow students register to vote.

Although low turnout is generally expected for midterm primary elections, more voters in Blair County were motivated to go to the polls on Tuesday’s primary in Pennsylvania because of how competitive some races are.
Min Xian / WPSU

 

Although low turnout is generally expected for midterm primary elections, more voters were motivated to go to the polls during Tuesday’s primary in Pennsylvania because of how competitive some races are. 

By 11 a.m. on Tuesday, 120 ballots were cast at Mount Nittany United Methodist Church in Lemont. Judge of Elections Laurel Zydney said she expected low turnout for this midterm primary, because people may not want to have a party affiliation and there’s a lack of contested races. 

Developers of the Patton Crossing project, (from left) Ara Kervandjian, Bob Poole and Heidi Nicholas, attended the public hearing on Wednesday. The board voted against the rezoning so they could reconsider some details of the zoning guidelines.
Min Xian / WPSU

Split opinions on whether to pass a new zoning code for a Patton township development project have left the future of the potential development uncertain. 

After nearly three hours of hearing public input and discussing among themselves, the Patton Township Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 against passing the new zoning code on Wednesday. 

The Beta Theta Pi fraternity house where Penn State student Timothy Piazza was fatally injured in Feb. 2017.
Min Xian / WPSU

A judge has dismissed the more severe charges against a second group of defendants in relation to the hazing death of Penn State student Timothy Piazza. With the ruling issued, a set of 25 former Beta Theta Pi fraternity brothers will head to trial. 

Among this group of 12 defendants, five of the brothers, Joshua Kurczewski, Ryan Burke, Jonathan Kanzler, Bohan Song and Aiden O’Brien, were each charged with reckless endangerment, which is a second degree misdemeanor. 

A bicyclist rides past Pennsylvania State University's shuttered Beta Theta Pi fraternity house Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, in State College, Pa.
Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo

The three-day preliminary hearing for 12 defendants charged in relation to the hazing death of Penn State student Tim Piazza completed on Friday. District judge Steve Lachman said he will announce on Monday whether the charges will go to trial.

These 12 defendants are the second group of former Beta Theta Pi brothers charged in the criminal investigation into the death of Piazza. 

State College police detective David Scicchitano left the courthouse in Bellefonte on Thursday.
Min Xian / WPSU

The preliminary hearing for 12 defendants charged in relation to the hazing death of Penn State student Tim Piazza continued in the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte on Thursday. 

Prosecutors continued their effort in building the case against the former fraternity brothers, who face charges ranging from reckless endangerment to hazing and furnishing. The charges were filed based on security footage of the basement of the fraternity house. The FBI recovered it after it was allegedly deleted.

Chief Deputy Attorney General Brian Zarallo spoke about the hazing case during a press conference in Harrisburg on Tuesday.
Min Xian / WPSU

Prosecutors from the office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General began on Wednesday to build the case against 12 defendants for charges in relation to the hazing death of Penn State student Tim Piazza. A new judge is presiding over the preliminary hearing and will decide whether the defendants will go to trial for charges including reckless endangerment, hazing and furnishing. 

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro had asked that involuntary manslaughter charges be reinstated against fraternity members in the hazing death of Penn State student Tim Piazza.
Min Xian / WPSU

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro spoke publicly for the first time on Tuesday about the prosecution of fraternity members in the hazing death of Penn State student Tim Piazza. Shapiro detailed why, after completing an “independent and comprehensive” review, his office is fighting to reinstate involuntary manslaughter charges against five defendants and drop those charges against some others.

An Altoona community project, StART Here, aims to support and promote local art. Residents participated in painting a mural as part of the event.
Min Xian / WPSU

ArtsAltoona, a local organization hosted a community event, StART Here, on Saturday, aiming to support and promote local art. Event organ­­izers say they want to use art to encourage growth in the community.

Pamela Snyder Etters, the creator of a 35-foot-wide community mural on the North 4th Street, was busy climbing on and off a mechanic lift to draw the outline of the mural as well as directing volunteers to hand out burshes and paint.

The Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.
Min Xian / WPSU

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office is appealing the dismissal of some charges in the case of the hazing death of Penn State student Timothy Piazza.

The attorney general’s office is fighting to reinstate charges against eight defendants, including involuntary manslaughter charges faced by five former fraternity members.

President of the now-banned Beta Theta Pi fraternity, Brendan Young, and pledge master, Daniel Casey, are among those who had involuntary manslaughter charges cleared, but they both will go to trial on charges of conspiracy to commit hazing.

On April 20th, 1999, 12 students and one teacher were killed at the Columbine High School in Colorado. On this day 19 years later, a school walkout in protest against gun violence spread across the nation. 

“We’re all post-Columbine kids,” said State College Area High School senior Kayla Fatemi. “I think, for us, [school shooting] is just something that we have to grow up with.”

State College's parking ordinance restricts street parking from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m., but the borough informally waive that rule for Penn State football home games and the Arts Fest. That's expected to change this fall.
Min Xian / WPSU

 

For a long time, Penn State football fans have parked overnight in the State College borough for free during home game weekends, because the borough informally makes an exception for its parking prohibition from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m.

But that will change this fall.

Forty-two Pennsylvania dairy farms scrambled in search for new markets after receiving contract termination notices about a month ago from Dean Foods, a national distributor based in Texas. Since then, two distributors in the state have entered agreements with some of those farms.

Harrisburg Dairies will pick up nine farms in the Lebanon-Lancaster area, while Schneider’s Dairy in Pittsburgh decided to take on four farms from Clarion and Venango counties. 

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania hosted a public hearing in Tioga County on Thursday, hearing from providers and consumers about the lack of broadband access in rural areas.
Min Xian / WPSU

Dr. Robert Gillio is in charge of telemedicine at J.C. Blair Hospital in Huntingdon county.

But he has no internet access at home.

“I can’t get Comcast at my house, two miles from the hospital,” Gillio said. “I want to log in at home and help? I got to drive to the damn hospital to log in to help my patient with telemedicine.”

As Penn State rolled out a series of measures last year to monitor and discipline Greek organizations, student leaders of the Greek community said they want to lead in reforms, but struggle with adjusting to new rules.
Min Xian / WPSU

As Penn State rolled out a series of measures last year to monitor and discipline Greek organizations, student leaders of the Greek community said they want to lead in reforms, but struggle with adjusting to new rules. 

John Lord, president of the Interfraternity Council, or IFC, at Penn State, said the council’s role is to govern and represent the 37 fraternity chapters. 

But, Lord said, when the university revokes recognition of a chapter, the IFC also loses grip on its oversight. 

Timothy Piazza's parents as they entered the courthouse this morning in Bellefonte.
Min Xian / WPSU

A judge has dismissed all involuntary manslaughter charges against five defendants in the Penn State hazing case in relation to the death of pledge Timothy Piazza. This is the second time Judge Allen Sinclair has thrown out those charges. 

The judge also dismissed all the reckless endangerment charges that eight defendants faced. Those charges were refiled by former Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller last November, after Sinclair dismissed them last September. 

Jim and Evelyn Piazza left the courthouse with their lawyers on Tuesday, after hearing closing statements for the second preliminary hearing for the hazing case resulting in the death of their son, Tim Piazza.
Min Xian / WPSU

Prosecution and defense have made their closing statements for the second preliminary hearing of the Penn State hazing death case. The judge is expected to rule on the charges Wednesday.

After cross-examinations with State College Police Detective David Scicchitano, defense attorneys made their closing statements one by one. The common theme was that the prosecution has no new evidence compared to the first hearing last year.

Defense lawyers argued fraternity members each had minimal responsibility in giving Tim Piazza alcohol and recognizing his fatal injuries.

A bicyclist rides past Pennsylvania State University's shuttered Beta Theta Pi fraternity house Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, in State College, Pa.
Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo

Updated on March 27, 11:31 a.m.

 

The preliminary hearing for the Penn State hazing death case continued on Monday with new video evidence. The prosecution presented surveillance footage from the basement of the fraternity house recovered by the FBI.

 

State High students organized the local March For Our Lives to protest against gun violence and demanded action for gun control policy.
Min Xian / WPSU

Hundreds of people attended “March for Our Lives” in State College on Saturday, in conjunction with the national march taking place in Washington D.C. The march started in the courtyard in front of the State College Area High School and made its way to Penn State’s Old Main Building.

State High students organized this sister march to protest against gun violence and demanded action for gun control policy.

Outside the courthouse, during a break from the proceedings on Friday, state Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman released the details of the "Timothy J. Piazza Antihazing Law," joined by the Piazza family and Penn State president Eric Barron.
Min Xian / WPSU

Updated on March 23, 8:59 p.m.

The preliminary hearing for the Penn State hazing death case resumed on Friday in the Centre County courthouse.

Eleven former Beta Theta Pi members are facing charges in relation to the death of pledge Timothy Piazza in February 2017. Those charges range from involuntary manslaughter to hazing. All 11 defendants waived their right to be in court.

One of the nation’s largest dairy distributors is ending its contract with dozens of Pennsylvania dairy farms at the end of May — a decision that reflects challenges faced by the industry.

The Beta Theta Pi fraternity house where Penn State student Timothy Piazza was fatally injured in Feb. 2017.
Min Xian / WPSU

The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office has dropped all assault charges and some involuntary manslaughter charges in the hazing case in relation to the death of Penn State student Timothy Piazza.

Chief Deputy Attorney General Brian Zarallo filed a notice in court Thursday, saying the prosecutors will drop all aggravated assault and simple assault charges, but will continue to press involuntary manslaughter charges against five defendants.

About 300 State College High School students attended a memorial in rememberance of the victims of the Parkland Shooting in conjunction with the National School Walkout.
Min Xian / WPSU

Students across the nation hosted walkouts on Wednesday in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida last month. 

Students of State College High School held a memorial to pay tribute. Seventeen students read names and biographies of the 17 victims who died at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, followed by a moment of silence.  

About 300 students chose to attend the memorial in the school courtyard. School administration and student organizers worked together to plan to event. 

Developers for the Patton Crossing project first proposed a master plan last year. The mixed-use plan drew much opposition from the neighborhood.
Min Xian / WPSU

Susan Buda works at the Park Forest preschool and lives in the adjoining Park Forest neighborhood in the State College area.

On most days, she bikes to work.

“It’s actually harder to drive here because it really is just such a short distance," Buda said. "I like riding my bike and walking. It’s very stress relieving and calming. And it’s a great neighborhood to do that in, too.”

But Buda said she is wary a development plan would change the neighborhood.

A blighted home sits on 12th Avenue in Altoona, Pennsylvania.
Min Xian / WPSU

Altoona’s Blight Task Force released a plan Wednesday to address the city’s rundown property problem. The plan looked at the extent of blight in Altoona and recommended next steps.

Over the past five months, the task force surveyed the city's housing conditions. They found more than half of about 9,000 parcels of land surveyed are in need of minor repairs, such as a new coat of paint. Meanwhile, nearly 400 parcels require major repairs and even demolition.

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