Matt Rourke / Associated Press

A 2017 Pennsylvania law that lets residents buy consumer-grade fireworks has some local communities worried about their safety, including Bellefonte in Centre County, which plans to step up enforcement.

The state passed the law, which lets Pennsylvanians buy fireworks. It also brings in money for the state, with a total 18% tax on firework sales.

Bellefonte Mayor Tom Wilson said fireworks complaints are at a high this summer.

Rev. Dr. Donna King standing inside the St. Paul AME Church in Bellefonte
Cheraine Stanford / WPSU


Pastor of Bellefonte’s St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church, Rev. Dr. Donna King, died on Jan. 7. King was known for her work in preserving local black history. 

In this file photo from July 2018, Centre County District Attorney Bernie Cantorna spoke at a town hall in Philipsburg on opioids.
Min Xian / WPSU


Centre County District Attorney Bernie Cantorna, the Centre County sheriff, and police chiefs from State College and Bellefonte, Spring, Patton, and Ferguson Townships and Penn State released statements Thursday on racial inequities in the United States and a police officer’s oath to protect and serve. 

In this file photo, a Philadelphia Police officer demonstrates a body-worn camera. Bellefonte Borough Council approved the purchase of 11 body cameras for its police department on Monday.
Matt Rourke / AP Photo

The Bellefonte Police Department will have body cameras as soon as the end of this month. They were approved by Bellefonte Borough Council at a Monday night meeting, with help from Centre County.

The Bellefonte PD will purchase 11 cameras for its officers and sign a five-year contract for cloud storage of the footage for a total of $25,000. The Centre County District Attorney’s office has offered $15,000 from drug forfeiture proceeds to fund the purchase.

Thom Brewster is remembered as a leader in the work to rehabilitate inmates in Centre County.
Patty Satalia / WPSU

The long time executive director of CentrePeace in Bellefonte has died. Thom Brewster is remembered as a leader in the organization’s work to rehabilitate inmates in Centre County.

Brewster started volunteering at CentrePeace in 1998. He taught non-violent conflict resolution skills to inmates at the State Correctional Institutions at Rockview and Benner Township and at the Centre County Correctional Facility. 

Centre County Holds Citizens' Police Academy

Nov 7, 2019
Officer Adam Salyards shows participants examples of tactical gear.
Brittany Krugel / WPSU

This year marks the second time that police departments within Centre County have offered the Centre County Citizens’ Police Academy

This week, the 20 or so participants are learning about the Centre County Tactical Team.

In late August when applications first went public, State College residents like Laura Zimmerman applied to participate.

April Helsel holds a photo of her daughter, Katharine, who died of an opioid overdose three years ago, at the candlelight remembrance at the Centre County Courthouse on August 29, 2019.
Min Xian / WPSU

Centre County hosted a candlelight remembrance Thursday night to honor those who died of a drug overdose. The event is ahead of this Saturday’s International Overdose Awareness Day. 

April Helsel, a member of the county’s Heroin & Opioid Prevention & Education Initiative, lost her daughter, Katharine, three years ago to an opioid overdose. Helsel said it’s important to pay tribute to the lives that have been lost. 

Karen Muir, front, and Braxton Becker walked out of the Centre County Courthouse Annex in Bellefonte after the sentencing on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019.
Min Xian / WPSU

The former house manager of Penn State’s now-banned Beta Theta Pi fraternity was sentenced to two years of probation on Wednesday for a misdemeanor charge. A Centre County jury found Braxton Becker guilty of “hindering apprehension” in May. 

Becker was found guilty of intentionally concealing evidence from a police investigation into the death of Penn State student Tim Piazza from alcohol hazing while pledging the fraternity. 

Karen Muir, front, Becker's attorney, walked out of the Centre County Courthouse on Thursday, after the jury rendered a verdict for Becker.
Min Xian / WPSU

A Centre County jury found Braxton Becker, the house manager of Penn State’s now-banned Beta Theta Pi fraternity, guilty on one of the three misdemeanor charges he faced on Thursday.

After five hours of deliberation, the jury rendered a verdict that Becker, a former Beta Theta Pi brother, was guilty of hindering apprehension and not guilty of tampering with evidence or obstructing justice.

Jurors will listen to closing arguments before beginning deliberation on Thursday, the third day of the trial for Braxton Becker in the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte.
Min Xian / WPSU

After hearing the cross-examination of State College Police Detective David Scicchitano and three additional witnesses on Wednesday, jurors will listen to closing arguments before beginning deliberation on Thursday, the third day of the trial for Braxton Becker.

Braxton Becker, left, left the Centre County Courthouse during the first day of the jury trial on his alleged deletion of security footage in relation to the case of the hazing death of Tim Piazza in 2017.
Min Xian / WPSU

The jury trial for Braxton Becker, a former member and the house manager of Penn State’s now defunct Beta Theta Pi fraternity, began Tuesday. It’s the first jury trial in the case related to the hazing death of Penn State student Timothy Piazza in 2017. Becker allegedly deleted security camera footage of the fraternity house basement.

In this file photo, Luke Visser, arrives for his preliminary hearing on charges related to the hazing death of Tim Piazza at Penn State's Beta Theta Pi fraternity, at the Centre County Courthouse on June 12, 2017.
Chris Knight / AP Photo

A judge has sentenced three former Penn State fraternity members to jail in the 2017 death of a pledge, the first defendants ordered to serve time behind bars in a case that rewrote Pennsylvania's anti-hazing law.

Centre County Judge Brian Marshall sentenced former Beta Theta Pi members Tuesday for hazing surrounding the death of sophomore engineering major Tim Piazza, 19, of Lebanon, New Jersey.

BookMark: "Refugee" By Alan Gratz

Feb 7, 2019


The mission of the Bellefonte READS Committee is to foster a love of literacy in the community. Each year, the committee chooses a title for “One Book, One Bellefonte” that will engage all community members, but will also challenge perspectives, spark discussion and inspire action. Given the current state of discord in the United States regarding immigration, we believe this year’s choice, “Refugee,” will do just that.

Erin McCracken standing
Anne Danahy / WPSU

An Amish buggy passes by as Erin McCracken gives a tour of the Breman Town Ballroom in Millheim. She and her husband, Joshua, host events in the space they converted from a bar.

“We’ve had some of the best concerts in here," McCracken said. "We’ve had hip-hop. We’ve had Texas country, where we taught everybody how to two-step and everybody was doing it. We’ve had polka parties. We just basically try anything.”

Republican incumbent of the 34th State Senate district, Jake Corman, left, is facing a Democratic challenger, Ezra Nanes, in this year's midterm elections.
Min Xian / WPSU


It was a Wednesday afternoon in the Toftrees neighborhood in State College. Ezra Nanes was canvassing and ran into a college student outside his house.


“Are you at Penn State?” Nanes asked. The young man told him, yes, and it’s expensive to go to school there.


Shaun Dougherty, left, urged Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman to pass SB261, which would open a two-year retroactive civil lawsuit window.
Min Xian / WPSU

The state House passed a bill last week to help protect victims of child sex abuse, which victims and advocates are urging the state Senate to support.

Shaun Dougherty, a survivor of child sex abuse, said the current laws in Pennsylvania did not protect him after he was abused.

On Friday, Dougherty delivered a request to Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman at his office in Bellefonte, along with the Senator’s Democratic opponent in the midterm election, Ezra Nanes.

In this file photo from July 2018, Centre County District Attorney Bernie Cantorna spoke at a town hall in Philipsburg on opioids.
Min Xian / WPSU


Drug-related overdose deaths continue to climb nationwide. Pennsylvania declared the opioid epidemic a state of emergency at the beginning of this year.


In Elk County, in March 2017, Kaitlyn Buerk, 24, bought five bags of drugs from her sister Allison Miller and her cousin Theresa Sample, who had just gone to Pittsburgh and bought 20 bags of what they thought was heroin.


Bellefonte Area High School history teacher Matthew Maris points to one of the Bellefonte Governor's papers now accessible online at
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.  

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.

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.

Rendering of new nursing home
Centre Care

A ground breaking for the new Centre Care nursing home is slated for this fall, with a goal of opening the $39 million facility in Benner Township in November 2020.

The new nursing home will be about 137,000 square feet.

“Our architect keeps telling us this is a large building. It takes up about 15 acres of the plot of land,” said Andrew Naugle, administrator of Centre Crest, the current home in Bellefonte.

The new Bellefonte Waterfront Development is located along Spring Creek between Lamb Street and High Street. It will include a six- or seven-story hotel, restaurants, stores and apartments.
Min Xian / WPSU

The Borough of Bellefonte has entered a sales agreement with developers on the waterfront project.

The new Bellefonte Waterfront Development is located along Spring Creek between Lamb Street and High Street. The lot has been vacant since the historic Bush House Hotel burned down in 2006.

Details of the sales agreement are still under negotiation, but the 4-acre project will include a six- or seven-story hotel, restaurants, stores and apartments. The hotel would be about 17,800 square feet, including about 80 guest rooms.

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.

A Penn State student died of an overdose earlier this year. Last Friday, the man who sold him those drugs received his sentence.
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.

crowded room
Anne Danahy / WPSU

Nestle is pulling out of the water bottling plant it was looking at building in Spring or Benner township.

A company spokeswoman said Monday that Nestle Waters looks at several factors in deciding where to put a plant. Those include the quality and taste of the water, the sustainability of the site and the logistics of getting the product to market.

The spokeswoman also said that Centre County “remains a leading candidate in our search for a third Pennsylvania bottling factory location, with an initial investment of $50 million.”

A house in the Holmes-Foster Historic District, which will be under the proposed HARB.
Sarah Paez / WPSU


A Historical and Architectural Review Board, or HARB, could be coming to State College soon.

At a series of HARB community workshops and public meetings hosted by the borough of State College, homeowners and residents voiced their opinions about having a board come to the borough.

The State College HARB would be an advisory board to protect the architectural heritage of the historic districts of College Heights, Holmes-Foster and Highlands. The HARB would recommend to the borough council whether to approve or deny property alterations.

Undeveloped land
Erin Cassidy Hendrick / WPSU

A key hearing took place in Bellefonte in the fight over a planned student housing complex named “The Cottages at State College.”

Jordan Yeager, the lawyer representing a group of Ferguson township residents who live near the proposed development, argued the plans for the complex encroach on an adjacent area zoned as agricultural. He said, “What they want to do is put the storm water management facilities that are a part of this massive development in a zoning district where that development isn’t allowed.”

The Bellefonte Borough Council held a special meeting yesterday to vote on the fate of the historic Garman Theatre. WPSU's Kate Lao Shaffner reports the council approved demolition of the Garman in a 5-4 vote.