Centre County

A teacher reads to kids at Step by Step School for Early Learning in State College, Pa.
Min Xian / Keystone Crossroads

In some ways, Rachel Johnson is grateful for Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s mid-March business shutdown order: it took the agonizing decision over whether to close the child care center she runs with her husband out of their hands.

“It was sad and scary, but in a way, easy, because the choice was made for us,” said Johnson, 36, who runs Step by Step School for Early Learning in Centre County. “It was like, ‘Ok, we have to close.’ There was nothing to think about.”

Some businesses are taking a cautious approach to reopening on Friday.
AP Photo / Mark Scolforo

Tommy Songer, an owner of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate in the State College area, said he and about 20 agents he employs are getting back to work Friday to meet what he called a “pent up demand.”

“Most of them have clients that either want to see a home because they're working with buyers or they have listings that have been waiting for buyers to be able to see the homes,” Songer said. 

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced Friday that 24 counties in northwest and north-central parts of the state will be the first to reopen in a limited capacity starting May 8.
Office of the Governor

Updated 3:40 p.m. Friday

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced Friday that 24 counties in northwest and northcentral parts of the state will be the first to reopen in a limited capacity starting May 8.

Those counties are Bradford, Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Jefferson, Lawrence, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Union, Venango, and Warren.

Centre County United Way

Centre County United Way is hosting a virtual concert Friday from 6 to 10 p.m. to raise money for local residents in need.


The Live United Live online concert will kick off on Centre County United Way’s Facebook page. Anybody that tunes in can see performances from 25 Central Pennsylvania bands and artists like Pure Cane Sugar, Biscuit Jam, and Richard Biever and Family.


The Rivet Manufactures PPE For State College Community

Apr 22, 2020
Camille Sogin, manager of The Rivet, shows off one of the face shields that the makerspace is manufacturing.
Camille Sogin / The Rivet

State College’s The Rivet is a makerspace dedicated to sharing knowledge and manufacturing equipment like laser cutters and 3D printers. But it has found a new purpose since COVID-19 started its spread. 

Staff are now producing protective gear including face masks, face shields and even some respirator and ventilator parts for healthcare and other essential workers in the local community. This personal protective gear, or PPE, has been in short supply since the pandemic began. 

Rivet manager Camille Sogin is leading the effort. 

The Pennsylvania Department of Health is now providing a map of positive cases based on zip codes.
Pa. Dept. of Health

Updated at 5:10 p.m. Tuesday

Several counties including Centre, Cambria and Warren added new fatalities from COVID-19 Tuesday, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. 

A map from the state Department of Health shows how many COVID-19 cases have been counted in each county.
PA Department of Health

An inmate at the Centre County Correctional Facility has tested positive for COVID-19, and a small number of staff and inmates who may have had contact with the inmate are in quarantine, according to a news release from the county Sunday.

The inmate is a Centre County resident who has been in the jail since January. He or she is being housed in a negative airflow room in the facility, and additional testing and contact tracing are being conducted, according to the release.

This is the first case of someone incarcerated at the county facility testing positive for COVID-19.

Emily Reddy / WPSU

For the first time in its 54-year history, the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts in State College won’t take place this year.

“This is the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make in my years in the workforce,” said Rick Bryant, executive director of the festival, which was slated to take place July 7-11. “We are trying to keep the health and safety of our artists, performers and audience members foremost in mind. We don’t want State College and the Centre region to become known as the petri dish.”

Centre County voted on Tuesday to cut staff because of financial uncertainty caused by COVID-19.
Min Xian / WPSU

With projected revenue losses in taxes and the responsibility to continue providing services, many Pennsylvania counties are finding themselves under tremendous financial stress. On Tuesday, Centre County Commissioners voted to cut staff, a decision that affects about 100 positions across dozens of departments.

Hotel State College laid off its entire staff as it shut down all of its bars, restaurants and a small hotel due to the coronavirus.
Min Xian / WPSU

On the Friday morning after Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf ordered all businesses that are not considered “life-sustaining” to close their physical locations, Todd Colocino received the news that he was laid off. 

The certified welding inspector for a civil engineering firm in State College has been laid off before during the Great Recession. But this time he feels less certain.

Patricia Best, the new chair of the Task Force on Mental Health Crisis Services in State College and Centre County, talks about the group's goals.
Min Xian / WPSU

The police shooting of Osaze Osagie in State College a year ago began a community-wide discussion about mental health services, race relations and police policies. 

The Borough of State College and Centre County teamed up to create a Task Force on Mental Health Crisis Services, with a goal to assess the current system and recommend changes.

WPSU’s Min Xian talked with Patricia Best, chair of the task force, about that plan.


Min Xian: Patricia Best, thanks for joining us.

The YMCA of Centre County is assembling bags of food to hand out as a part of its Anti-Hunger Program. They're putting together the bags at the Moshannon Valley YMCA gym and distributing them at 14 drive-through locations around the county.
Mel Curtis / YMCA of Centre County

In response to coronavirus concerns, organizations in central Pennsylvania are finding new ways to make sure vulnerable members of the community get fed. In Centre County, both State College Area Meals on Wheels and the YMCA of Centre County are making changes to their normal processes.  

Updated 2:49 p.m. EST


The Pennsylvania Department of Health said Friday the first case of COVID-19 has been reported in Centre County. Mount Nittany Medical Center reported two individuals within its system have tested positive for coronavirus. 


Mount Nittany Medical Center isn’t limited to serving people in Centre County, and the Department of Health lists confirmed cases based on where an individual lives, not where the test takes place. 


Centre County emergency dispatcher's computer monitors
Anne Danahy / WPSU

While there are no known cases of the coronavirus in central or northcentral Pennsylvania, COVID-19 is moving across the state, and emergency care providers say they are taking steps to be ready.

“911. What’s the address of your emergency?”

That’s Paige Redman, a Centre County 911 dispatcher, taking a call. The woman says her husband is having trouble breathing. After getting the woman’s address and her husband’s age, Redman asks her something else: “OK, has he been out of the country or been around anybody that’s been sick that’s traveled out of the country lately?”

Old Main, an administrative building and landmark of Penn State's University Park campus.
Lindsay Lazarski / Keystone Crossroads

In the wake of the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and in Pennsylvania, Penn State is switching to remote learning and discouraging students from returning to campus for three weeks.

U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham visited State College to meet with local government and university officials.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham visited State College Wednesday to talk about efforts to get people to take part in the count. He is visiting dozens of universities and met with Penn State president Eric Barron before visiting nearby census headquarters to talk with local government officials. 

Dillingham said they are still hiring census takers and that the coronavirus won’t stop canvassing. 

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.

Shaheen Pasha is launching a prison journalism program in central Pennsylvania.
Min Xian / WPSU

Penn State assistant teaching professor Shaheen Pasha is an advocate for more journalism courses to be taught in prison.

She talked with WPSU about a reporting class she taught to both prisoners and journalism students in Massachusetts, the benefits of learning about our mass incarceration system from the people who are living it and her plan to create a program here in central Pennsylvania. TRANSCRIPT:  

Min Xian: Welcome to Take Note on WPSU. I'm Min Xian.

State College To Hold First Pride Parade This Summer

Feb 5, 2020
Altoona held its first Pride parade on Oct. 11, 2019. Members of the Pride Alliance at Penn State Altoona carried a balloon display that said "PRIDE."
Min Xian / WPSU

State College will have its first Pride parade this summer. The Centre LGBTQA Support Network is hosting the upcoming parade and festival from June 12-14. While the festivities will run all weekend, the parade itself is set to start on Saturday, June 13 at 11 or 11:30 a.m.

The Network’s co-chair, Susan Marshall, says the festival should be an opportunity for the whole community to learn something new.

Tree outside Old Main
Emily Reddy / WPSU

Penn State announced Thursday that the university will offer eligible staff four weeks of paid parental leave starting in July.

The university announced the new benefit policy Thursday and said it will apply to staff members who have worked 12 consecutive months prior to July 1 this year. 

The four week period has to start within 90 days following a birth or an adoption that takes place after July 1. 

Students Anjelica Rubin (center right) and Anja Lee showcased their social justice course project at the Delta Program Monday evening.
Min Xian / WPSU


An inaugural social justice course at the State College Area High School and the Delta Program taught students how to approach complex social issues and find fixes. 

About 40 students took the course, which was named “Bridging Divides,” and spent a semester learning about their own identities as well as historically marginalized communities. Students presented their projects Monday evening.

Shih-In Ma
Cheraine Stanford / WPSU

Shih-In Ma is a social justice advocate who works to promote diversity and inclusion in Centre County. 

The State College native and Penn State alum, left a corporate career at IBM to begin a journey of spirituality, self-reflection and meditation. Her journey has taken her around the world and included spending four years in India with Amma, who's known as the hugging saint.

Shih-In Ma teaches meditation and shares opportunities for others to gain better insight and understanding of those around them.


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. 

The storage room at Penn State's Lion's Pantry.
Brittany Krugel / WPSU

About five years ago a group of Penn State students at University Park recognized a problem surrounding students who stuggle to afford groceries.

So they started a food bank for students. And over the past two years, the Lion’s Pantry has worked to keep the shelves stocked for students in need.

Sayre Bradley, the president, feels passionately about the mission of making sure students have enough to eat. 

Associated Press

This Saturday night, December 7, some local vocalists and the Zeropoint Big Band will pay tribute to a legendary jazz and pop artist from the mid 20th century. They’ll cover songs made famous by Nat King Cole at The State Theatre in State College.


“Nat King Cole is one of the most beloved entertainers of the last century,” says Rick Hirsch.  He plays saxphone with the Zeropoint Big Band, and he’s organizing a concert in tribute to Cole.  

The Centre County Crisis Center is located at 2100 E. College Ave.
Brittany Krugel / WPSU

The Centre County Crisis Assessment Center aims to help Centre County residents in times of need. But Beth Gillan, the regional executive director, said that a crisis may not always be what you would typically think of.

“It can be someone that has food needs and we can help them get that. It can be someone that just needs some support and needs someone to listen to them. It might be someone that needs to get away from a situation from a time and that can be a safe place for them,” Gillan said.

Funding for the center came through the Centre County government. 

The Human Rights Campaign released its annual Municipal Equality Index in State College Tuesday. State College is among the 88 cities nationwide that achieved a full score.
Min Xian / WPSU

More cities are becoming increasingly inclusive when it comes to LGBTQ rights, according to the Human Rights Campaign, which released its eighth annual Municipal Equality Index in State College Tuesday.

The Human Rights Campaign said the index is meant to encourage the creation of non-discrimination laws nationwide. The organization said 88 cities or municipalities in the country scored the maximum of 100 points on its index this year, up from 78 the year before.

Transgender Activist Visits Penn State

Nov 19, 2019
Mara Keisling is the founder and executive director of the National Transgender Center for Transgender Equality.
Brittany Krugel / WPSU

November is transgender awareness month. On Thursday, Penn State’s Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity hosted alumna Mara Keisling at University Park.

Almost 40 years ago, Keisling graduated from Penn State. Today, she is the founder and executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality in Washington, D.C.

In the late 1970s, when Keisling knew she wanted to transition from male to female, there were no resources for her.

Poster for Pennsylvania Game Commission event on chronic wasting disease
Anne Danahy / WPSU

The Pennyslvania Game Commission hopes to get feedback on its proposed plan to respond to chronic wasting disease, a disease that's fatal to deer and other cervids. The commission held a seminar on the disease Wednesday at the Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology in Centre County. 

Lisa Marie Mazzucco / courtesy of Mr. Perlman

World famous violinist, Itzhak Perlman will pay a visit to Penn State, University Park on Thursday evening, November 14. He'll talk about his life, share some photos and video, and play music with pianist Rohan da Silva in a progarm called "An Evening with Itzhak Perlman." WPSU’s Kristine Allen spoke with him by phone about his career and his upcoming performance.

You'll find more information on Perlman's performance here.