Centre County

Marisa Vicere is the founder of the Jana Marie Foundation.
Shawn Henfling / Captured Chaos

After losing her sister to suicide in 2011, Marisa Vicere founded the Jana Marie Foundation in her sister’s honor.

The State College-based non-profit aims to educate and empower young people in the Centre County region and to build awareness about mental well-being and suicide prevention.

Vicere talked with WPSU during National Suicide Prevention Month about the foundation and her sister. 

The Republican nominee for Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor, Jeff Bartos, held a town hall at Penn State on Monday.
Min Xian / WPSU

The Republican nominee for Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor, Jeff Bartos, held a town hall at Penn State on Monday.  

Dozens of students attended and raised questions on balancing the state budget and lowering taxes while maintaining social welfare programs. They also touched on issues including free speech on college campuses and sanctuary cities. The Q&A lasted about an hour.  

Over two dozen attendees met at the Philipsburg-Osceola Middle School for a school safety discussion on Friday, September 14, 2018.
Min Xian / WPSU

The state senate majority policy committee hosted a school safety discussion on Friday in Philipsburg. It’s the seventh out of ten sessions planned regarding the allocation of $60 million in state funding for schools. 

Over two dozen attendees met at the Philipsburg-Osceola Middle School, including representatives from eight school districts in Central Pennsylvania.

Dr. John Zesiger is the superintendent of the Moshannon Valley School District. He said the school district will most likely use the funding to improve their mental health resources.

Penn State Outing Club Can Go Outside Again. But Not Too Far.

Sep 14, 2018
Christina Platt is president of the Penn State Outing Club.
Christina Platt

In April, a university review deemed the Penn State Outing Club's activities -- hiking and backpacking to name a few -- too dangerous. Campus recreation disbanded the club.

But now, the group has changed its designation from a club sport to a recognized student organization. They can go on outings again, but there are still limitations: No hiking farther than 50 miles from State College and no more overnight backpacking trips.

Club President Christina Platt said they’re making the best of the changes.

This I Believe: I Believe In Libraries

Sep 13, 2018

I believe in libraries.

I was born in Colombia, a country where books were luxury items, public libraries were few and bookworms were considered arrogant. I grew up being shuffled from aunt to aunt and town to town while my mother was in the U.S., working to support us from a distance.

Rep. Tom Marino
Photo provided

Susan Werner, chair of the Centre County League of Women Voters candidates’ night, is disappointed. She said she reached out to U.S. Rep. Tom Marino’s office about scheduling a forum with him and his Democratic opponent, Marc Friedenberg, but couldn’t get a commitment.

“I think that candidates’ night is a great opportunity for the public to come and ask questions that they want answers to, and he seems to be avoiding that,” Werner said.

The League of Women Voters in the Lewisburg area faced a similar situation.

Bellefonte Area High School history teacher Matthew Maris points to one of the Bellefonte Governor's papers now accessible online at powerlibrary.org.
Maddie Biertempfel / WPSU

One of Bellefonte’s claims to fame is that it’s the birthplace of seven governors–five who served Pennsylvania, one California, the other Kansas.

But until recently, their handwritten letters, inaugural addresses and speech transcripts, among other documents, have been sitting in a box.  

BookMark: "Moby Dick" By Herman Melville

Sep 6, 2018

In my first teaching interview, I was asked what book I’d most like to teach. Without hesitation, I replied, “Moby Dick.” The interviewer probably thought I was trying to impress him, but it was true. I began teaching “Moby Dick” four years ago, and I hope I’ll be able to continue to teach it for the rest of my career.

The cast of "Results Will Vary*" during a summer preview performance in Eisenhower Auditorium.
Patrick Mansell / Penn State

Penn State students are back at the University Park campus. Last week, nearly 300 freshmen attended “Results Will Vary*,” a theatre performance that put a new spin on student orientation. The show explored issues students might face and resources the university has to support them.

The Piazzas at press conference
Min Xian / WPSU

Jim and Evelyn Piazza, the parents of Tim Piazza, gave an anti-hazing presentation to fraternity and sorority members at Penn State on Wednesday. They said their goal is to end the culture of hazing.

The Piazzas named their presentation, “Love, Mom & Dad.” They asked their audience in HUB Robeson Center's Freeman auditorium to imagine the painful loss of a child, as they recounted the details of how Tim was hazed and fatally injured in 2017.

State College Commemorates 1963 March On Washington

Aug 28, 2018
Min Xian / WPSU

Dozens of State College community members gathered Tuesday to commemorate the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. 

Speeches, music and dancing filled the Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza on Fraser Street where participants paid homage to the march's contribution to the civil rights movement.

State College Mayor Don Hahn said the march -- officially the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom -- marked a key turning point in history. 

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

Both sides gave closing statements on Wednesday in the fourth preliminary hearing of the Penn State hazing case. All seven defendants face charges that had been dismissed by two districts judges earlier this year.

The charges were refiled by the attorney general’s office. Prosecutors allege these former fraternity brothers conspired and committed hazing, resulting in the death of pledge Tim Piazza.

In their closing arguments, defense attorneys said their clients had limited interaction with Piazza and had no knowledge of his injuries on bid acceptance night.

Bales of miscellaneous plastic to be sold as recycled materia
Tyler Olson / WPSU

Centre County’s Recycling and Refuse Authority’s Miscellaneous Plastics Drop Off Program is making some changes in the type of plastics it can accept.

“We can’t take black plastic anymore, no cups, no solo cups anymore,” said Amy Schirf, education coordinator for the Recycling and Refuse Authority. “The other thing that was big was packaging. If you would open up a toothbrush and there was like that plastic packaging that goes around it – we used to take that, but we can’t take that anymore either.”

It takes at least 100 years for one inch of topsoil to form. In Pennsylvania, farmers are becoming increasingly interested in managing soil to produce healthier, more sustainable crops.

Take Note: New Book Explores "Evan Pugh's Penn State"

Aug 7, 2018

Dr. Roger Williams is the author of “Evan Pugh’s Penn State:  America’s Model Agricultural College.” It is the first book-length treatment of this mid-nineteenth century scientist-president who forged the nation’s first successful higher education institution dedicated to scientific agriculture -- what is now Penn State.

Williams served as Associate Vice President and Executive Director of the Penn State Alumni Association, the world’s largest, from 2003 to 2015 and as Affiliate Associate Professor in Penn State’s Higher Education Program.

A construction vehicle moves earth for the construction of the new Rogers Stadium for Bellefonte Area High School.
Bellefonte Area School District

Bellefonte Area School District is searching for alternate venues for its football team to play as it becomes clearer their home field won't be available for most of this fall's football season. 

In a July 17 meeting broadcast on C-NET, the school board learned that an issue ordering the bleachers for the new stadium would hold up its completion from the previous target date in September to about October 12.

This will likely prevent the Bellefonte Red Raiders from playing any home football games until at least their October 26 matchup with Bald Eagle Area High School.

State College borough planning director Ed LeClear in front of one of the houses sold through the Neighborhood Sustainability Program.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

It’s just a short walk from the municipal building in downtown State College where Ed LeClear works as borough planning director to a two-story brick house on Foster Avenue with a “For Sale” sign out front. The blocks surrounding it are full of apartment buildings and fraternities, but this block is mostly single-family homes.

The State College Borough’s Redevelopment Authority bought this house, removed the permit that allowed owners to rent it to students and is reselling it as a part of the Neighborhood Sustainability Program.

building construction
Min Xian / WPSU

The development going on in State College right now is expected to increase the number of housing units in the borough by about 20 percent. And largely they’ll be downtown student rentals.

While many Pennsylvania municipalities struggle to sustain their downtowns and shrinking populations, the State College area faces a different set of challenges. The place that’s home to Penn State is seeing growth. But not everyone thinks it’s the right kind.

In State College, some residents worry about the upticks in urbanization, while others welcome the growth. Keystone Crossroads talked to residents about how they feel about their rapidly evolving community.
Min Xian / Keystone Crossroads

Home to Penn State University’s main campus, State College and the larger Centre County area have been steadily growing in terms of population and economy. In recent years, the town has experienced an uptick in urbanization, with new high rises offering luxurious student housing. At the same time, a handful of local establishments have closed as more chain stores have arrived.

Some residents worry about those changes, while some others welcome the growth.

The waiting room at Nature's Medicines in State College
Tyler Olson / WPSU

As medical marijuana dispensaries continue to open up across Pennsylvania, many first-time patients still don’t know what to expect from the process, and are anxious as they go through it.

“I was a little nervous because I just don’t know how it’ll work,” said Stephanie Darpino after purchasing medical marijuana for the first time at Nature’s Medicines in State College. “But everyone was so nice and it wasn’t … I don’t know like it’s a 'drug' kind of thing. Which I wasn’t sure if that’s how it would feel, but it didn’t feel like that at all.”

Bob Poole (right), one of the developers of the Patton Crossing project, spoke to the Township Supervisors at a public hearing in May.
Min Xian / WPSU

The Patton Township Board of Supervisors has approved the rezoning of the proposed Patton Crossing development project. Developers will now move forward to create a master plan.

Unanimously approved by the board, the 28-acre project was rezoned with a new mixed-use development zoning code. The code would allow a grocery store, a hotel and both commercial and residential buildings in Patton Crossing’s concept plan.

One of the developers, Bob Poole, said the next step is to create a more detailed master plan.

Centre County District Attorney Bernie Cantorna (middle) hosted a town hall in Philipsburg Tuesday night to address opioid addiction in the area. Cathy Arbogast (left) and Karlene Shugars (right) gave presentations as well.
Min Xian / WPSU

Centre County District Attorney Bernie Cantorna hosted a town hall in Philipsburg Tuesday night to address opioid addiction in the area. Cantorna and other presenters want to remove the stigma surrounding addiction and provide resources for help.

“Someone has asked, ‘How as a family member do I help someone to get help?’’ Cantorna read and answered questions on index cards near the end of the town hall.

He said it’s important to engage the community when it comes to combating the opioid crisis, because the issue often has ripple effects.

Pam and Toby Short with the letter they brought to State Sen. Jake Corman asking him to help pass redistricting reform.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

Redistricting advocates in Centre County are making a last-ditch effort to change how Pennsylvania’s Congressional districts are drawn.

It’s a week past an unofficial deadline to keep redistricting reform on track for 2021. That’s when maps will be redrawn.

But a group from “Fair Districts PA—Centre County” went to Senator Jake Corman’s office in Bellefonte on Thursday to urge him to keep working. The state constitution says the bill must be passed and advertised in newspapers by August 6.

Lance Shaner speaks out against the change in zoning code at the Patton Township council meeting.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

The Patton Township Board of Supervisors has approved a new mixed-use development zoning code. The change likely opens the way for the controversial Patton Crossing development to move forward.

For nearly three hours Wednesday night, residents voiced mostly concerns about the new Mixed-Use Overlay District, or MXD2. Patton Township resident Rick Maher objected that it seemed the zoning was created specifically for one development.

“This MXD2 ordinance is being tailored with the Patton Crossing property in mind," Maher said. "It’s not right and it stinks!”

Danielle Dormer at the WPSU studios.
Min Xian / WPSU

This episode of Take Note is part of "State of Emergency: Searching for solutions to Pennsylvania’s opioids epidemic." State of Emergency is a combined effort of newsrooms across the state to draw attention to programs, therapies and strategies that are actually showing promise in the fight against this public health crisis.

Crews excavated ground from around a sinkhole that opened up on College Avenue near the Nittany Mall.
Tyler Olson / WPSU

Drivers on part of East College Avenue outside of State College are being forced to take a detour thanks to a sinkhole that opened up over the weekend.

A sinkhole about one and a half feet wide was discovered Saturday afternoon on East College Avenue near the Nittany Mall. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation immediately closed the stretch between Benner Pike and Shiloh Road for repairs. For now, drivers are taking a short detour.

"Eat First, Cry Later" author Mimi Brash Coppersmith.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

In State College in the late 1950s, she was a rarity: a progressive, a business owner, and a woman.

Mimi Barash Coppersmith celebrates her 85th birthday with a newly published memoir, "Eat First, Cry Later: The Life Lessons Of A First-Generation College Graduate, Penn State Alumna and a Female CEO." It recounts 48 life lessons drawn from an exceptional life brimming with triumphs and tragedies. She talked with Patty Satalia for WPSU's Take Note. 

What SCASD Schools Are Doing To Keep Students Safe

Jun 7, 2018
More than 2,000 students walked into State College Area High School's new south building for the first time on January 8, 2018.
Min Xian / WPSU

As the school year draws to a close in State College, teachers and school officials are thinking about the recent school shootings in other cities, and how to keep students here safe. Cindy Simmons talked to some of them for WPSU.   

State College Area School District will no longer provide straws in cafeterias.
AP Photo

The State College Area School District has decided to phase out plastic straws in an effort to reduce waste. Megan Schaper, the district’s director of food service, was making the menu for Earth Day when she came up with the idea to get rid of plastic straws in the new State High cafeteria.

“It’s just a little that I think we can do –  that everybody can do – to help with the plastic pollution problem,” Schaper said.  “Plastic straws are not recyclable. There’s nothing that happens to them other than they go into the landfill and plastic takes at least 500 years to break down.”

Tomi Adeyemi has been hailed the next J.K. Rowling. She’s the author of the best-selling young adult fantasy “Children of Blood and Bone.” I’m all for the comparison if it encourages people to read the 24-year-old’s gripping debut novel, but I actually think it deserves to stand on its own. I devoured this book.

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