Centre County

Several hundred people showed up for the funeral of Osaze Osagie at State College Alliance Church.
Min Xian / WPSU

Speakers at the funeral of Osaze Osagie talked about his smile, his hugs and his deep faith in God. Several hundred people attended the funeral on Saturday of the 29-year-old black man shot by State College police on March 20. 

Attendees were given a white rose as they entered State College Alliance Church. 

The crowd filled the 500-seat worship space and more than 100 people watched the service through a video feed in the lobby of the church. A band sang worship hymns. 

This I Believe: I Believe In A Good Cup Of Coffee

Mar 29, 2019

This essay originally aired on Oct. 25, 2018.

I believe in a good cup of coffee.

I was about five years old when I brewed my first pot of coffee. I remember reaching for the red plastic container labeled Folgers, lifting the lid and appreciating its rich aroma.

I carefully counted the spoonfuls of Folgers, while my brother, who’s just a year older, measured the water. The counter the coffee pot sat on was barely reachable, but we made it work.

John Zesiger, superintendent at the Moshannon Vally School District, says he makes drills more realistic by getting rid of the orderly lines and having some students not where they're supposed to be.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

Moshannon Vally School District Superintendent John Zesiger said to make intruder drills more realistic they’ve added some complications. 

“We block exits,” Zesiger said. “We have some students who are not where they're supposed to be. So that the staff and the students have to kind of think on their feet and say, ‘Geez, here’s where I'm supposed to go out, but I can't get out that way.’ And they look for the next best option.”

Osaze Osagie, a 29-year-old State College man, was fatally shot by police on March 20, 2019.
Osagie Family

Attorney Andrew Shubin says the parents of Osaze Osagie feel enormous grief, as any parent would if they lost their son.

“But, in this situation, it’s far more complicated and really devastating, because you have a parent who reached out for help, who set the wheels in motion for what eventually wound up as a police shooting of their son," Shubin said.

Tiffany Myers reads a children's book out loud to a class of about 20 fifth graders. She said the idea is to teach the basics of mental wellbeing just like other school subjects.
Min Xian / WPSU


On a recent school day at Mount Nittany Elementary School in State College, Tiffany Myers read a children's book out loud to a class of about 20 fifth graders.

“The story we’re going to read today is called, ‘Red: A Crayon’s Story.’ Just right off the bat, what are you noticing about this crayon that make it different than what you might expect?” Myers, a school counselor, asked.

Several hundred people gathered at the Allen Street Gates in State College Thursday for a vigil for Osaze Osagie, who was fatally shot by police officers on Wednesday, March 20, 2019.
Min Xian / WPSU

When the State College group Community and Campus in Unity met Monday night, the focus was on the fatal shooting of Osaze Osagie and rebuilding community trust.

“Thank you for everyone’s comments so far and questions. I’m warmed by the fact that so many people are here, because Osaze has been heavy on my heart," said State College resident Eric Ian Farmer. "One hundred and three years of a police department without killing any resident. What about this particular event or incident, was so unique?”

John Lovett, a retired police officer and the Saint Marys School District's school safety and security coordinator, reviews the school security cameras. They're one of the measures the school district has in place.
Anne Danahy / WPSU

John Lovett is a retired police officer and the school safety and security coordinator at the Saint Marys Area School District.

It's a typical day at the high school in Elk County, Pennsylvania, and students stream down the halls during a break.

Lovett's job is helping keep the students safe. As part of that, he carries a taser and a gun. And he helps train the schools on what to do in an emergency, including a possible intruder.

Corl Street Elementary, in State College, is receiving extensive renovations, all done with safety in mind.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

Martha Sherman has two kids at Mount Nittany Elementary School in State College. On a recent morning when she was dropping them off, office staff wouldn’t let her go beyond the front office. She wanted to walk her son Zane to his kindergarten class, but his school, like many others, has a safety policy that says parents can’t do that.

Gathererers at vigil hold picture of man shot by police
Min Xian / WPSU

Several hundred people gathered for a vigil at the Allen Street Gates in State College Thursday evening for the man who was fatally shot by police Wednesday. 

“We are gathered here tonight to honor the life of a 29-year-old African-American male, Osaze Osagie,” said Danieltta Pantoe, a Penn State junior and president of the Student Black Caucus, as she led the vigil to remember Osagie.

Osagie was fatally shot by State College police Wednesday. Police went to his apartment for a mental health check, and he reportedly confronted them with a knife.

Genaro C. Armas / Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Penn State will collect hundreds of thousands of dollars left over from the defunct charity for youth founded by convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky, settling claims from a threatened civil lawsuit.
The university and the state attorney general's office both confirmed this week that an agreement was reached recently.
The university said it also will receive additional payments from entities that insured The Second Mile, although the terms are confidential.

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale hosted a public hearing on how the state is responding to climate change on Penn State's University Park campus on Thursday. It's the first of three hearings DePasquale plans.
Min Xian / WPSU

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale hosted a public hearing on Penn State’s University Park campus on Thursday, to gather input for a special report looking into the state’s response to climate change.


DePasquale said climate change is both an environmental challenge and an economic challenge for the state and the country.


Attendants watch the showcase of a live video conference during an open house event at the Northern Pennsylvania Regional College in Warren, Pa.
Min Xian / Keystone Crossroads

Kathy Wells started her career early. She didn’t get a chance to go to college after graduating high school in rural, Northwestern Pennsylvania.

In her words, she grew up in a “large family, small area.

“Basically, you work,” Wells laughed. “You don’t go to school.”

Now 48, Wells is an administrative assistant for the Forest Area School District in Forest County — one of the most remote and scarcely populated areas in the state.

State High building
Min Xian / WPSU

A State College Area High School student brought a bullet to school on Wednesday and showed it to classmates. Although the high school’s resource officer found that no firearm was involved, a rumor of a gun in the school prompted a parent of another student to call 911, resulting in a 10-minute lockdown at the high school, according to the State College Area School District.

Bruce Zinger / Tafelmusik

Thursday night at Penn State, University Park, the Baroque orchestra, Tafelmusik, teams up with Trio Arabica for a concert called "Tales of Two Cities: The Leipzig-Damascus Coffee House." WPSU's Kristine Allen reports on the show's blend of European and Arabic music, images, and narration.

A firefighter's hat sits inside the Miles Township Fire Company. Chief Eric Miller says chasing grants to support the volunteer fire company is a big part of the job.
Min Xian / WPSU

Eric Miller, chief of the Miles Township Fire Company, has just submitted an application for a volunteer fire assistance grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for 2019.

Miller said chasing grants is part of the reality of running a fire company.

“Everybody wants to go be a hero and save people’s houses, which obviously is what we’re here for. But if we don’t have money coming in, we can’t help the community,” said Miller, who has been with the fire company for 19 years and its chief for four years.

Commissioner Michael Pipe at his desk
Anne Danahy / WPSU

UPDATE: Centre County Commissioners approved the policy change on Tuesday allowing employees to get paid time off when having, adopting or fostering children. The policy takes effect immediately.

Centre County is slated to become the fourth in Pennsylvania to offer paid time off to employees having or adopting children. Commissioners are scheduled to vote on the policy change Tuesday. 

Chairman of the Centre County Commissioners Michael Pipe said the research shows paid time off for new parents makes sense.

Elaine Meder Wilgus served as emcee for Nerd Nite (wearing a dress she made from a book).
Bill Arden / Bill Arden

“Nerd Nite” has come to Central Pennsylvania! The first event in a monthly series took place last week State College.

Semih Eser, a professor of Energy and Geo-Environmental Engineering, started off the evening with Turkish music on guitar. He played to a capacity crowd, gathered for the inaugural Nerd Nite at Webster’s Bookstore Café.

“I’m at Nerd Nite because I want to be surrounded by my fellow nerds,” said Bill Arden of State College, a retired college astronomy teacher. He sat at a table in the back.

What does Arden think of when he hears the word “nerd?” 

Penn State THON Raises $10.6 Million For Pediatric Cancer

Feb 18, 2019
Penn State's THON raised more than $10 million for pediatric cancer.
Maddie Biertempfel / WPSU


Penn State’s student-run dance marathon, or THON, revealed this weekend it raised $10.6 million dollars for pediatric cancer this year.

Thousands of students and spectators gathered in the Bryce Jordan Center for 46 hours to celebrate the fundraising efforts for families and children battling cancer.


One of those families was the Damesheks, who lost their 12-year-old daughter Emilia in 2016. Her mother Natalie gave an emotional speech during the final hours of the event.


Penn State Greek Life Two Years After Piazza's Death

Feb 18, 2019
The Beta Theta Pi fraternity house where Penn State student Timothy Piazza was fatally injured in Feb. 2017.
Min Xian / WPSU

Just over two years ago, Penn State sophomore Timothy Piazza died from injuries sustained at an alcohol-fueled bid acceptance party at the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house.

Penn State took swift action. It permanently banned Beta Theta Pi, halted all fraternity parties and implemented other sanctions meant to make Greek life safer.

Now two years have passed, two new classes of students have arrived, and two years’ worth of new regulations have been instituted. So, what’s changed?

Fraternity member Brannon DeWolf said there’s less partying.

Two Centre County commissioners talk with Gov. Tom Wolf
Anne Danahy / WPSU

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced Wednesday the state is going to build the stretch of U.S. Route 322 in Centre County known as the missing link. The project will cost $670 million dollars and will, Wolf said, make “the long-awaited route connection a reality.”

“As they say, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step and that’s what we’re doing here,” Wolf said while making the announcement in a hotel outside of State College where the current two-lane highway runs.

Developers for the Patton Crossing project in the State College area submitted a sketch plan for public comment on Wednesday.
Image Provided

Developers for the Patton Crossing project in the State College area submitted a sketch plan for public comment on Wednesday.

In the proposed plan, the Patton Crossing project will have a main entrance on North Atherton street. Three one-story commercial buildings will face the busy road.

The hotel, which was originally placed on the south side of the project, has been brought to the center of the 28-arce lot, farther from the Park Forest neighborhood.

Kyle Hynes of State College won first place in the central region's youth division.
Arthur Goldschmidt

State High sophomore Kyle Hynes is taking home $5,000 for his first-place finish in the Draw the Lines PA’s youth division.

The 15-year-old said he’ll be practical with the winnings.

“Probably put it away for college and just further in life," Hynes said. "I don’t have as much of a need for it right now.”

The competition asked participants to submit maps outlining congressional districts. Contest organizers announced the statewide winners Wednesday during a ceremony at the Capitol in Harrisburg.

BookMark: "The Female Persuasion" By Meg Wolitzer

Jan 24, 2019

Meg Wolitzer’s new novel, “The Female Persuasion,” is ambitious. It follows the feminist movement from its naïve, optimistic swell in the sixties ­to its present incarnation: a much more complicated, uneasy movement. The novel opens as Greer Kadetsky, a college freshman, hears second-wave feminist Faith Frank speak on her college campus. Greer is captivated by Faith, who is as charismatic as she is persuasive. Greer’s life course is fundamentally altered by meeting Faith after her speech, which sets the stage for the development of their complicated mentor-mentee relationship.

voting machine
Anne Danahy / WPSU

As Pennsylvania pushes ahead with plans for new voting machines that produce a paper trail, some counties are concerned about the costs.

The board of the SEDA-Council of Governments, a development agency that serves 11 counties in central Pennsylvania, recently came out against the state’s mandate that all counties get new paper-trail voting machines by 2020.

"The counties just felt that to have this mandated in the timeframe the governor was asking was unrealistic,” said Jeff Snyder, a Clinton County commissioner and the incoming SEDA-COG board president.

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

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

William Denton, from Raleigh, NC, died of a multi-drug overdose in his campus dorm room in January. The 19-year-old Penn State sophomore had bought what he thought was heroin—but which an autopsy showed was a combination of drugs including methylfentanyl—from Mark Grover, of Verona, PA. Grover pleaded guilty to a first-degree felony of drug delivery resulting in death in October.

Seria Chatters is the director of diversity and inclusivity for the State College Area School District.
Cheraine Stanford / WPSU

Seria Chatters is the first-ever director of diversity and inclusivity for the State College Area School District. She draws from both her personal and professional experiences to inform her work.

Before taking her current position, she was an assistant professor in Penn State's Department of Educational Psychology, Counseling and Special Education. 

Chatters talked with WPSU about her first semester on the job and what she hopes to accomplish in the position. 


Narcan nasal spray
Anne Danahy / WPSU

By the time Jeanne Nearhoof, of Lycoming County, and her mother went to a naloxone distribution site Thursday, there wasn’t any left.

That site in Williamsport had run out of the drug used to reverse opioid overdoses. But, Nearhoof did leave with information about how to get it.

“It affects everyone," she said of opioid addiction. "It’s not just poor people or bad people. It’s everybody and anybody.”

That includes her family.

“It’s hell. It truly is hell," Nearhoof said. "It is definitely the devil’s drug.”

It's almost too obvious to be worth pointing out, but healthcare impacts everyone. And it seems like there's one thing everyone can agree on. Healthcare is expensive, whether we're talking about drug prices or insurance premiums. It wasn't always like this. The story of how healthcare got this way is the subject of Elisabeth Rosenthal's book “An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take it Back.” I'm always interested in current events, and with the battles over healthcare on the national stage, this book seemed particularly timely.

Chabad of Penn State hosted the university's 18th annual menorah lighting on the University Park campus on Wednesday.
Min Xian / WPSU

Chabad of Penn State hosted the university’s 18th annual menorah lighting on the University Park campus on Wednesday.

Runners on Musser Greenway path
Penn State

Penn State has announced that it is “investigating ways to conserve” a 365-acre property between Rothrock State Park and the future Whitehall Road Regional Park. 

That farmland could be home to passive uses like walking trails, under plans Penn State is developing with ClearWater Conservancy.

The university announced Tuesday it has committed to a passive-use, conservation-based approach for the property. A spokesman said the university plans to “return the land to a more natural state that helps to promote biodiversity and protect the water.”