State College

Russell Frank is a professor of journalism at Penn State, a contributor to StateCollege.com and a former columnist for the “Centre Daily Times.” He has compiled a selection of his columns from the past 20 years into a book, “Among the Woo People,” which comes out on Sunday. WPSU’s Adison Godfrey talked with Russell Frank about his book.

AG: Thanks for joining me.

RF: My pleasure.

Chelsea Clinton visits her mother's campaign headquarters in downtown State College on September 7, 2016.
Erin Cassidy Hendrick / WPSU

Chelsea Clinton spoke to a packed room of volunteers and thanked them for their support of her mother, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. 

She spoke about her grandfather, who graduated from Penn State in 1935, and her grandmother who wished she was able to finish college as he did. 

She also stressed the need to register young people in Pennsylvania to vote in the coming election. 

The State College borough council meeting on August 1, 2016.
Erin Cassidy Hendrick / WPSU

The State College borough council voted to reduce simple marijuana possession from a misdemeanor to a summary offense. 

State College police chief Tom King says this will likely not have a big impact on the borough’s police force. He said, “It will be used very infrequently because we have very few cases that are only small amounts of marijuana.”

In a video released yesterday, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Katie McGinty said she supports the ordinance. 

The State College borough council at their meeting on May 2, 2016.
Erin Cassidy Hendrick / WPSU

At a State College borough council meeting in May, Mill Creek resident Christy Billett made an emotional appeal to the board, telling them how getting charged with marijuana possession derailed her life. 

Event organizer Susan Prill holds a sign to Arts Fest patrons saying "#EndWhiteSilence."
Erin Cassidy Hendrick / WPSU

At Penn State’s Allen Street gates, about a dozen demonstrators held signs directed to the crowds taking in Arts Fest events. The signs had phrases like “White Silence = Violence” and “Black lives matter to me.”

Susan Prill organized the event. She and all the other demonstrators were white. She said, We’re not here to disrupt, we’re just here to get some more eyes on the message and try to get white people to continue the conversation.”

Kelli Hoover gives a presentation at the fundraising event on June 3.
Talia Cowen / WPSU

The Nittany Valley Water Coalition held an event Friday at a private residence to support their lawsuit against the Ferguson Township Council and the real estate company the Toll Brothers. About 60 people were in attendance to hear the group’s plans to stop the new student housing development in State College.

CBICC Connect hosted a luncheon on Friday, May 20 to release the findings from their survey of young professionals.
Erin Cassidy Hendrick / WPSU

Young professionals want to see some changes in Centre county – things like affordable housing and food trucks.

That’s according to a survey released Friday by CBICC Connect, an off-shoot of the chamber for young professionals. Their recent survey of 149 young professionals in the area aimed to get to know that group and what they want.

State College residents heard plans to improve and add bike paths in the region on May 17, 2016.
Erin Cassidy Hendrick

Centre County non-profit Centre Bike held a meeting last night to update residents on their plan to create a more bike-friendly State College.  

Representatives from several townships presented plans to improve existing bike paths and create new ones.

Centre Bike president Anna Nelson believes there are many positives to creating a bike-friendly community.

The State College Borough Council meeting on May 2nd, 2016.
Erin Cassidy Hendrick / WPSU

Last night, the State College Borough Council held a public hearing on a proposal to reduce penalties for marijuana possession within the borough from a misdemeanor to a fine.

The audience was overwhelmingly in favor, with only 2 community members speaking against the ordinance.

Penn State College Democrats President Veronica Weyhrauch spoke in favor. “These are young people trying to start their lives, trying to start their careers and they shouldn’t be burdened with a misdemeanor,” she said.

Early Sunday morning, Ferguson Township Police in State College reported finding a deceased woman on the side of Plainfield Road. There were no obvious signs of trauma and the cause of death is currently unknown.

Police believe it is not connected to the recent murder of Pine Grove Mills resident Jean Tuggy. More information will follow after the autopsy, scheduled for February 15.

Ferguson Township residents hold signs protesting "The Cottages at State College."
Erin Cassidy Hendrick / WPSU

Last night at the Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors meeting, the board voted to approve the proposed student housing complex to be built by the Toll Brothers.

The development will be named “The Cottages at State College” and located on White Hall Road and Blue Course Drive. This plan has been controversial because of worries it could threaten the town’s water supply.

The proposed building site for "The Cottages" on Whitehall Road and Blue Course Drive.
Erin Cassidy Hendrick / WPSU

Both candidates for Ward 1 of the Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors say they believe it’s important to balance economic development and environmental preservation. But they disagree on what to do about a new development planned in the township.

A student housing complex named “The Cottages” is being planned on Whitehall Road and Blue Course Drive. The Toll Brothers developers want to buy the land from Penn State. But they need the go-ahead from the Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors to start building.

The students from the COMM473 class that organized the event.
Erin Cassidy Hendrick / WPSU

Last night, a group of Penn State students stood on the corner of Park and North Atherton in State College. They passed out brightly colored flyers to passing pedestrians that said, “Did you know there have been three fatalities since 2014 on the street YOU are crossing? Help us find out why.”

Student Erica Avallone explained the State College police reached out to her public relations class to help launch a campaign for pedestrian and bicyclist safety. 

“We’re really hoping to change the culture of pedestrian and vehicle safety around campus,” she said.

Meagan Tuttle on Allen street.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

Most State College residents think of their downtown as a long, narrow area bracketed by College and Beaver Avenues. The State College Borough Council hopes to change that. Borough planner Meagan Tuttle talked with WPSU’s Emily Reddy about redevelopment plans aimed at extending that “downtown” feeling into the 200 block of South Allen Street. They talked in front of the State College Municipal building, on the street that the borough is hoping to revitalize.   

The proposed building site for "The Cottages" on Whitehall Road and Blue Course Drive.
Erin Cassidy Hendrick / WPSU

Dave Yoxtheimer, a hydro geologist at the Penn State Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research, walks through a seemingly unremarkable tract of land. It’s near Blue Course Drive and Whitehall Road, in State College’s Ferguson Township. Although it seems barren to the naked eye, the land serves an important purpose for the town’s water.

Demonstrators met in front of the Fraser Street post office where they waved signs demanding 15 dollars an hour as the new minimum wage. Organizers decided that April 15th, Tax Day and “four-fifteen” was the perfect day for the rally.

Greg Overturf works at Mt. Nittany Medical Center and led the demonstration.

“When I was growing up my parents struggled finding jobs that were able to pay," Overturf said. "I’m the oldest of four kids and that really brought me out here today to motivate me. Everyone deserves living wages.”

group shot of 2015 Blueprint Communities graduates
Kate Lao Shaffner

What does it take to turn a community around?  Revitalization work is certainly more than just ribbon-cutting ceremonies. Every new bike path, main street project, or historic rehab likely represents stacks of paperwork and years of planning. 

UBER Comes to State College

Feb 10, 2015
Abhik Gandhi with car.
Chanukah Christie / WPSU

UBER, an app-based rideshare and taxi company from San Francisco, debuted in State College over the weekend.

State College, UBER driver, Abhik Gandhi is a Penn State Junior. He’s been driving for the company since its launch in State College on Friday.

Gandhi says he picked up 110 fares over the weekend.

“The earnings are really good," says Gandhi, "it’s really fun because you get to meet new people.”
Riders use an app on their smartphone to request an UBER pickup and watch in real time as the car arrives.

State College pilots web project to boost civic engagement

Dec 11, 2014
Kate Lao Shaffner/WPSU

    

What stops people from being engaged in your community? Perhaps local government meetings aren't held at convenient times. Or people feel like they don't know enough about local issues. Or maybe they don't think they can make a difference.

Whatever the reason, it can be tough to get residents involved in community matters.

Kate Lao Shaffner/WPSU

State College’s Borough Council met last night for a final review of next year’s budget.

The council is poised to adopt a property tax increase of 3.36 mill, which is almost 30% more than the current 11.04 mill. In addition, the proposed budget indicates a 0.25% increase in real estate transfer tax.

Shoba Wadhia presents "Immigration 101."
Erin Cassidy Hendrick / WPSU

On June 12th of this year, Homeland Security Investigations conducted enforcement raids at several Asian restaurants located in State College. More than a dozen people were detained and six were reportedly deported.WPSU’s Erin Cassidy Hendrick attended a community event last night spurred by this investigation.

It was a sunny and warm Election Day for voters in central Pennsylvania. WPSU’s Erin Cassidy Hendrick visited the polls in State College and found voter turn-out seemed to be higher than expected.

Todd Brown spent the day stumping for Scott Conklin at a polling place in State College. He says there was a steady stream of voters all day, and thinks it was the mild weather that brought them out.

“I’ve been doing this for a few years, and the weather, it’s usually about 30, 35 degrees cold, chilly. Sometimes that drives people away. But today it’s been gorgeous,” he said.

People walking down State College street
Kate Lao Shaffner

State College's Highlands residents are used to sounds of partying on weekend nights. The neighborhood borders Penn State's University Park campus and downtown. It's made up of fraternities and apartment buildings, but also single-family homes ranging from grand stone and brick historic mansions to more modest mid-century houses. The residents are quite the mix—college students, retired professors, and young families all call the Highlands home.

But it's not hard to tell who lives where.

Not in the Municipal Budget? Try Crowdfunding

Jul 17, 2014
Meagan Tuttle on park swings
Kelly Tunney

You've likely heard about crowdfunding on web platforms like Kickstarter. It's where people submit an idea and anyone can sign up to help fund it.

But crowdfunding isn't just a tool for raising money to produce a movie, manufacture a gadget, or make gourmet potato salad. Communities are turning to this funding model for civic projects.

Susan Venegoni and Laird Jones
Kelly Tunney / WPSU

If you’re in a public place in downtown State College, there’s a chance a camera is capturing your every move. The borough has just finished putting in a new public security camera system that brings the number of downtown cameras from three to seventy-one.

New technology

Police Lieutenant Gregory Brauser said the move to seventy-one cameras is just keeping up with technological advances. 

“We’ve been using these for over ten years.  It was just time for the system that we had to be upgraded to a more digital, modern system,” he said.