America Amplified

America Amplified creates local, regional and national journalism using community engagement to inform and strengthen reporting. This public media initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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Photo of Margie Brown in front of a tractor
Photo provided

In a presidential election year, voting may be the most visible way to try to create change.

But it's not the only way. In a three-part series from America Amplified, residents of McKean County share how they are making a difference, where they live, and beyond the ballot box.

Margie Brown is a Democrat in Elk County running in this year’s election for Pennsylvania’s 25th Senatorial District, which includes McKean County, where she grew up. 

Jake Mott is a native of Bradford, Pennsylvania.
Photo provided

In a presidential election year, voting may be the most visible way to try to create change.

But it's not the only way. In a three-part series from America Amplified, residents of McKean County share how they are making a difference, where they live, and beyond the ballot box.

Jake Mott, 23, has always felt like he’s not a part of his hometown, Bradford, Pennsylvania. 

Photo of Kate Kennedy
Courtesy of Kate Kennedy

In a presidential election year, voting may be the most visible way to try to create change.

But it's not the only way. In a three-part series from America Amplified, residents of McKean County share how they are making a difference, where they live, and beyond the ballot box.

When Kate Kennedy left Kane, Pennsylvania, in 2010, she felt there wasn’t much tying her to the town. Kennedy spent most of the following decade living in Pittsburgh, working in public relations. The thought of returning to Kane didn’t come up at all.

From Philly To Erie, 12 Pa. Voters Talk About Their Crucial Swing State Vote

Oct 28, 2020

Ask us: What do you want to know about voting and the 2020 election?

With a week to go until Election Day, Pennsylvania has lived up to its hype as a key battleground state that could decide the presidency. 

A video surfaced of Police Chief Hiel Bartlett and another officer, Patrolman Matthew Gustin, making an arrest in which some Bradford, Pa. residents say they used excessive force.
Screenshot

Bradford, Pennsylvania is a town of 8,000 near the New York border in rural McKean County.

It’s a place where people typically hold police officers in high regard.

“Most people know all the police officers at least personally in some way,” said Bradford native Jake Mott, 23, who studies psychology at University of Pittsburgh at Bradford. Mott said the downside of that close relationship with officers is “that really makes people afraid to be critical of them.”

Chambersburg, Pa. which has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, is in a county where state lawmakers are pushing for a faster reopening of the economy.
Jeffrey Stockbridge for Keystone Crossroads

Rodrigo Ortiz has been trying to sound the alarm about COVID-19. At the end of April, he stood outside of a coronavirus testing site in downtown Chambersburg wearing a white face mask and turned on Facebook Live.

“There’s a lot of people who think nothing will happen to them, and keep getting together, keep having parties,” he said in Spanish into the camera, before imploring residents of the borough to stay home to avoid spreading the coronavirus.

“Sixty percent of people here are testing positive, and the majority are Hispanics,” he continued, with emotion.

In a video on April 11, 2020, Andrew Cousins shows a view of Presque Isle Bay.
Andrew Cousins

In a parking lot in Erie, Andrew Cousins sat in his car and waited for one of his rideshare apps to ping him, letting him know a customer was nearby.

He’d been out for a couple hours with only a few customers.