Centre County

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.

Liz Linder / courtesy of The Silkroad Ensemble

The Silkroad Ensemble, a diverse group of musicians from around the world, will give a concert Tuesday night on Penn State’s University Park campus. The group was founded by cellist Yo-Yo Ma in 1999.

“There were 60 musicians,” says Silkroad’s co-artistic director, Nicholas Cord.  “We premiered 15 new pieces. A beautiful cacophony is the best way I could describe it.“

“Silkroad was Yo-Yo’s brainchild in a lot of ways. And I think Yo-Yo had always had an idea in his life to do something of this magnitude.”

Officer Adam Salyards.
Brittany Krugel / WPSU


As young trick or treaters geared up to collect their candy, a local tornado watch that was in effect until Thursday at midnight had other plans. 

Adam Salyards is community relations and crime prevention specialist for the State College Police Department.

"Children’s safety comes first and foremost in our minds and we just want to make sure everyone is able to go out when the weather is decent and everyone can remain safe,” Salyards said.

Penn State's Gender Equity Center is located in 204 Boucke Building.
Brittany Krugel / WPSU

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Penn State’s Gender Equity Center is one resource that may help students who are survivors.

Programming coordinator Jennifer Pencek is one of many staff members who work with survivors of domestic violence. Pencek provides classes and counseling for students who have survived domestic abuse. 

She said it can be difficult to tell whether a close friend or loved one is a victim of domestic violence. 

Grandmother pushing grandson on swing
Anne Danahy / WPSU


Anne Danahy (Narrator) – Much of the discussion on the opioid epidemic focuses on the people most affected: the ones who are abusing opioids. That makes sense because their lives have been swept up by addiction. But, their families shoulder the impact of the opioid epidemic too.

I’m Anne Danahy. This is “Overcoming an Epidemic: Opioids in Pennsylvania,” a WPSU podcast looking at what researchers, communities and government agencies are doing to try to treat and prevent opioid addiction.

[Doorway knocking]

Construction workers stand at the intersection of Park Avenue and North Atherton Street.
Brittany Krugel / WPSU

Thousands drive down North Atherton Street every day in hopes that they will no longer have to deal with the construction that started in 2015. 

According to Marla Fannin, PennDOT Press Officer for District 2, the end could be in sight in June 2020.

Fannin said the construction will be on pause during the colder months. 

The Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau revealed its new name at its annual meeting on Tuesday, October 15.
Min Xian / WPSU

The Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau is changing its name to the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau. The organization said it hopes the name recognition that comes with “Happy Valley” will attract more visitors and boost the local economy.

Fritz Smith, president and CEO of the bureau, said that while Happy Valley is closely associated with the State College area and Penn State, the bureau will work on expanding its reach across the region.

State High School Resource Officer John Aston has confiscated a variety of vapes from students.
Brittany Krugel / WPSU


State College Area High School is considering installing vape detectors in bathrooms to stop students from vaping during school hours. 

John Aston, State High’s school resource officer, worries that students are ignoring the side effects of vaping.

“All the reports out there with the safety issues, all of the heavy metals and the chemicals that are in the vapes, kids aren’t hearing it. They’re not paying attention to it. They’re not believing it,” Aston said.

New Mosque Opening In State College On Saturday

Oct 10, 2019
Rami Alhellu, president of the ISCP, stands in front of the new mosque.
Brittany Krugel / WPSU

Last June, the board of the Islamic Society of Central Pennsylvania purchased a building in State College four times the size of their old mosque on Ridge Avenue. 

ISCP president Rami Alhellu says the additional space will allow them to welcome more worshipers into their facility. 

But beyond the physical size of the new building, Alhellu is excited for the new relationships that he hopes the mosque will bring. 

People participate in Central Pennsylvania 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb.
Brittany Krugel / WPSU



About 130 people took part in the first ever Central Pennsylvania 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb on Saturday while bagpipers played. Some firefighters wore full gear as they ran up and down the Medlar Field stands for about an hour and a half. 

Scott Fleck, one of the event’s lead organizers and an Elk County firefighter, got the idea to bring a stair climb to the Centre County region after participating in two of them in New York City. He explained what the climb symbolizes. 

Outside of the newly renovated Spring Creek Elementary School.
Brittany Krugel / WPSU

State College Area School District held their first of four open houses Wednesday night. Spring Creek Elementary School is one of five in the district to be renovated and recently reopened. Last night, the open house allowed community members—like Robert Watts, who has a six-year-old son at the school — to tour the school. 


Kristine Allen / WPSU

Student activists around the globe skipped school on Friday, September 20 to call for action on the issue of climate change.

In State College, a couple hundred activists of all ages participated, including many students.  They gathered at the Allen Street gates and marched to the steps of Penn State's Old Main.  Many of them held homemade signs with slogans like "Save the Earth," "Unite behind science," and "There is no planet B."

Ken Baxter

Ken Baxter is a Central Pennsylvania singer/songwriter, originally from Boston. He lost his son, Alex, to suicide years ago. On Saturday, September 21 at 7:00 p.m, he’ll play a concert called "The Philosophy of Hope," at the State Theatre in State College to raise funds for the Jana Marie Foundation, a local group that works on suicide prevention.  Joining him on stage for the concert will be his other son, Nick Baxter, who’s a music producer in Hollywood. Ken Baxter talks about suicide, life lessons, and moving forward.

Penn State Celebrates National Constitution Day

Sep 19, 2019
"Constitution Day" welcome sign placed outside of Heritage Hall in the HUB student union.
Brittany Krugel / WPSU

Penn State held a celebration Tuesday to celebrate National Constitution Day. Students shared their interpretations of several different amendments to the U.S. Constitution at Heritage Hall in the HUB student union. 

Isabella Scotti, a sophomore and a music education major, presented about the 14th Amendment, which addresses citizenship and equal rights for all citizens. Scotti says the Constitution can be used to interpret some of the political debates that are happening today.

Attorney Kathleen Yurcak stands next to Iyunolu and Sylvester Osagie Sept. 12, 2019, during a press conference
Anne Danahy / WPSU

Attorneys for the family of the 29-year-old State College man who was fatally shot by police in March have filed a notice of plans to sue the State College police. At a press conference Thursday, attorneys said they believe the death was avoidable and want access to all information in the case.

With Osaze Osagie’s parents standing behind them, lawyers for the family — including Andrew Celli — said the legal filing is the first step in holding the system responsible.

Members of the panel at a "Community Conversation On Suicide."
Brittany Krugel / WPSU


About 20 people attended a "Community Conversation on Suicide" at the State College Municipal Building sponsored by March for Our Lives and CeaseFire PA.

Panel members included activists from both organizations and Tom King, the former State College police chief.

Alex Wind, one of the co-founders of the March for our Lives movement, described the effects that gun violence and mass shootings have on current suicide rates. 

Penn State professors Esther Obonyo and Erica Smithwick will be speakers at the Project Drawdown conference Sept. 16-18.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

Penn State will host the Project Drawdown conference Sept. 16-18. It’s based on a book that outlines the 100 top actions to reverse climate change.

We talked with two conference presenters about “Drawdown” and the research they’re doing into fighting global warming.

The crosswalk at the corner of Park Avenue and North Atherton Street will be closed for construction until the end of September.
Brittany Krugel / WPSU

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation recently alerted State College pedestrians they will not be allowed to cross at a heavily trafficked intersection. 

Through the month of September, pedestrians are prohibited from crossing the intersection at Park Avenue and North Atherton Street.

Marc Maney, PennDOT’s Transportation Construction Inspector Supervisor, said their main priority is the safety of pedestrians. 

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. 

This I Believe: I Believe In Connection

Aug 29, 2019
Essayist Micaela Amateau
Emily Reddy / WPSU

I cry every day. My tears are tears of anguish but also tears of the most intense joy.

As the director of the Pennsylvania Center for the Book, one of my favorite tasks is choosing a children’s or young adult title to represent Pennsylvania at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. It’s a responsibility I take very seriously. I consult with colleagues and search for information about children’s and young adult books by Pennsylvania authors or illustrators. I look for titles with topics that have some connection to the Commonwealth. 

One of the rooms at the recently opened Rampage Room in the Nittany Mall includes a toaster, a printer and a washing machine for people to smash.
Steph Krane / WPSU

If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by work, school, or just life in general, a new storefront in the Nittany Mall has just the solution for you.

The sound of a washing machine being hit with a baseball bat fills a room that is sectioned off by spray-painted drywall and filled with objects ranging from old appliances to empty bottles of wine. For a fee that ranges from $20 for a 10-minute session to $65 for what the company calls an “All Out Rager,” participants don what looks like hazmat gear, grab a baseball bat or crowbar, and start smashing.

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. 

This I Believe: I Believe In Thank You Notes

Aug 15, 2019
Essayist Stacie Chandler.
Curt Chandler

I believe in thank you notes. I believe in sending them and in receiving them. Absolutely for gifts – every gift REQUIRES written acknowledgement – but also for random acts of kindness or thoughtful behavior and for hospitality.

Ask anyone, “Hey, how are you doing?” and they will most likely respond, “Busy. I am SOOO busy. There is just too much going on.”

People are busy. Everyone is busy. 

Work. Play. Shopping. Recreation. Family. Cooking. Errands. Laundry. School. Housework. 

Social commitments. Yard work. Commuting. Volunteering.

Russell Schaufler analyzing slides at the Weaver Building.
Evan Beebe / WPSU


Russell Schaufler never had a job he enjoyed, that was until he found the ACRES project. At ACRES Schaufler was paired with a job at the Penn State Egyptology Department digitizing 50-year-old research slides for professors. Schaufler says he’s excited to go to work now.

“It’s very friendly for an autistic person because I don’t have to work with a lot of people, so it kind of helped ease me back into the work environment, which for most of my life has been pretty toxic. So this is kind of helping me bring back a little confidence,” Schaufler said.

A new bill allows Pennsylvania youth in the foster care system to attend any college or university in the state tuition free.
Steph Krane / WPSU

Starting with the fall 2020 semester, Pennsylvania youth who have been in foster care will be able to attend any college or university in Pennsylvania tuition free thanks to a waiver program signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf this June.

Director of the Child Maltreatment Solutions Network at Penn State Jennie Noll says the waivers will benefit a population that often has bad outcomes.

History makes a great story when it’s told well. And who can resist a good story? I certainly can’t. Having been a history major in undergrad, I may be particularly susceptible. So when I came across Matthew Kneale’s new book, “Rome: A History In Seven Sackings” in the leisure reading collection at Pattee Library, I had to check it out.

Flavia Barger serving food at the Golden Basket opening round.
Evan Beebe / WPSU

A local cooking competition is underway across Centre County. The Golden Basket’s first qualifying round was on Saturday at the North Atherton Farmers Market, and the competition hopes to bring attention to locally grown food in Central Pennsylvania. 

Nancy VanLandingham

Saturday, July 20th is the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 moon landing, when astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the lunar surface.

Nancy VanLandingham of Warrior’s Mark was 14 years old in 1969.

“To me, it felt like it was pretty much the most important thing that had happened in my lifetime,” VanLandingham said.

As she remembers it, everyone back then was focused on space travel.

Kristine Allen / WPSU

On Tuesday, July 16, the Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium at Penn State invited the public to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch. They held a rocket launch event at the Ag Progress Days sight in Pennsylvania Furnace.

With a drone buzzing overhead to film the event, they launched 24 model rockets at 9:32am – the exact time of the Apollo launch 50 years ago.