Centre County

Two men testing out voting machine
Anne Danahy / WPSU

Zane Swanger tapped on the screen of a voting machine to make his elections choices, including a write-in candidate, before printing out his ballot.

“OK, so it won’t even let me vote for overvotes, so good.”

Swanger was testing out one of the new voting systems that Pennsylvanians could be using in elections starting next year. He's the director of elections in Mifflin County, and that was third time he’s seen the equipment.

Wideline Seraphin and Ana Díaz.
Jim Carlson / Penn State College of Education



Since 2014, Wideline Seraphin and Ana Díaz have been collecting narratives from members of marginalized communities about their experiences living in State College and Centre County. A few of these stories will be featured in the mini-documentary “Schooling Narratives,” which focuses on the experiences of three families in the State College Area School District.

Seraphin said the student narratives have been used at the State College Area High School to rethink inclusion in a classroom space.

This I Believe: I Believe In Music

Dec 6, 2018
Essayist Audrey Shu.
Audrey Shu


I believe in music. Sweet melodies make me feel radiant and free.

I play the piano. As I’ve learned to play, my mom has been with me every step of the way. I remember her sitting next to 6-year-old me, sharing the same bench, the same music, as I progressed from playing single notes to mini-recitals.

My mom is a passionate classical music lover. Music takes both of us to another world.

In Mozart’s “Horn Sonata,” Mom and I are attending an extravagant royal ball.

Kristine Allen / WPSU

The great, great, great granddaughter of Charles Dickens, Lucinda Dickens Hawksley, is an author, lecturer and award-winning travel writer. She also has a masters degree in art history. She is on Penn State’s University Park Campus Thursday, December 6th to give a talk on “Dickens and Christmas,” at 4:00 in Paterno Library. She spoke with WPSU’s Kristine Allen about the publication of “A Christmas Carol.”

Two people discussing voting machine
Anne Danahy / WPSU

Patrick McDaniel  said elections in the United States have historically been fair and secure, but there are challenges.

McDaniel is the Weiss Professor of Information and Communications Technology at Penn State and one of the organizers of the Symposium on Election Security, held Monday at the Penn Stater Conference Center. At a time when the integrity of elections is in the headlines, the conference drew experts and national leaders in election security.

BookMark: A 'Baker's Dozen' Of Children's Books

Nov 29, 2018


Since 2004, the Pennsylvania Center for the Book has named a Baker’s Dozen of books each year that support family literacy.

The books chosen for the Baker’s Dozen list aim to turn preschool children into lifelong readers and lovers of books. Among the thirteen books chosen this year are “Bulldozer Helps Out” by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann, “I Want That Nut!” by Madeline Valentine and “Who Am I? An Animal Guessing Game” by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page.

PennDOT recently released a report reviewing car crashes in Pennsylvania for 2017.

According to the report, 128,188 total reportable traffic crashes occurred last year, which resulted in the deaths of 1,137 people and injuries of 80,612 more.

Penn State's Beaver Stadium
Emily Reddy / WPSU

Penn State’s plan to renovate the president’s suite in Beaver Stadium and install an exclusive elevator has been shelved. The project had been slated to be completed in time for the fall 2019 football season.

A Penn State physical plant spokeswoman said in an email that the project is on hold as the university evaluates options. She did not provide details about why the project has been shelved.

This essay originally aired on Feb. 15, 2018.

When I was little, my mom warned me time and again that if I became nearsighted, I’d only have my bad habit of reading under my comforter with a tiny flashlight to blame. I didn’t listen because in “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea,” there was no worrying about eye care. There was just traveling across the ocean through the eyes of an explorer and feeling page-long names of sea creatures swim past my fingertips. A whole bunch of things in that book were made up, but I loved it.

Penn State's THON Cancels Out-Of-Town Fundraising Trips

Nov 16, 2018
Dancers at THON.

The dance marathon’s public relations director, Maddy Hughes, cites safety concerns for students and volunteers for the fundraising changes.

“After just some recent events and renewed concerns around the safety of all the students and volunteers that were traveling, we decided to make the decision to cancel all fundraising that requires out-of-town travel for the rest of THON 2019,” Hughes said. 

Mimi Barash Coppersmith has left an undeniable imprint on State College, Pennsylvania. Whether from her publications like “Town and Gown,” her philanthropies like the Pink Zone, or her civic activities like serving as Penn State’s Board of Trustees chair, Mimi has been a fixture since her arrival as an undergraduate in 1950. 

The Rowland Theatre in Philipsburg.
Adison Godfrey / WPSU


The first Veritas Film Festival continues through Thursday at the Rowland Theatre in Philipsburg and the Ritz Theater in Clearfield.

Hollywood filmmaker Spencer Folmar grew up in the Philipsburg area. He returned to his hometown this week to bring the Veritas Film Festival to the community. Over the course of the past week, Veritas has screened a variety of films that Folmar said all share a common thread.

Kate Staley, from Penn State's Counseling and Psychological Services, holds one of the Red Folders.
Maddie Biertempfel / WPSU

In efforts to mitigate mental health concerns, Penn State’s student government and Counseling and Psychological Services, or CAPS, collaborated to create the Red Folder Initiative.

It is what it sounds like: a bright red folder outlining three steps for faculty and staff concerned about a student’s mental health. First, recognizing indicators of distress; second, responding appropriately; and finally, referring the student to the appropriate campus resource.

The Penn State Concert Choir in rehearsal.
Kristine Allen / WPSU

On the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, France, Great Britain and Germany signed the Armistice.  It was an agreement that ended the fighting of WWI as a prelude to peace negotiations. 

On Sunday, the day of that centennial, the Penn State Concert Choir will perform “MEMORIA: A Cantata for the Centenary of the Armistice.”  It was written by composer Scott Eggert, who lives in Annville, Pennsylvania.

Eggert was commissioned to create this music especially for the Armistice anniversary.  He says he was free not just to write the music, but to choose his own texts.

This I Believe: I Believe In Waking Up

Nov 8, 2018

There are many things that define my life: my love of swimming and theatre, my desire to be with my friends at all times, my inclination to stay up late to finish a good book. My late nights, paired with early-morning workout sessions, mean I drink a lot of coffee, because I believe in waking up.

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.


Prison inmates pruning oak tree
Anne Danahy / WPSU

On a recent day at the forestry camp at Rockview state prison, the focus was on tree pruning. Devin Ashe and other students took turns working on an oak tree.

“I didn’t know trees were as complex as they were, what they do for the environment, wildlife as well as humans,” Ashe said.

McCarthy and Epstein pose for a picture at an event for the National Institute for Civil Discourse
Reagan McCarthy / Penn State College Republicans

As the midterm elections draw closer, Americans seem more divided than ever. But Penn State seniors, roommates and best friends Reagan McCarthy and Katierose Epstein share a bond that crosses the aisle even in today’s polarized climate.

McCarthy is the president of the Penn State College Republicans and Epstein is the president of the College Democrats.

The women met in the spring of their freshman year on opposing sides of a debate between their clubs. The topic was federal funding of Planned Parenthood, and the encounter wasn’t exactly friendly.

Maddie Biertempfel / WPSU

While younger generations make up the majority of the electorate, they don’t always make it to the ballot box.

In the 2014 midterms, Gen Xers and Millennials cast 21 million fewer votes than older generations, according to Pew Research Center.

But for some Penn State students, like Matt Fisher, the choice to vote this November is easy.

“I’m planning on voting because I want to be represented in our government, and it’s how you make change in this country.”

Ann Tickamyer, professor of sociology at Penn State, was one of the presenters at the 26th National Symposium on Family Issues. She says there's a lack of good policy for rural families and communities.
Min Xian / WPSU

Nearly three and a half million Pennsylvanians live in rural parts of the state. In many ways, rural areas face challenges different than those in urban areas. Researchers gathered on Monday for the 26th National Symposium on Family Issues at Penn State’s Nittany Lion Inn, with a focus this year on rural families and communities.


On Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 in Harrisburg, Pa., Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf shakes hands with Jim Piazza after signing anti-hazing legislation inspired by the death of Piazza's son, Penn State student Tim Piazza.
AP Photo/Marc Levy

A bill designed to toughen penalties for hazing in Pennsylvania was signed into law on Friday by Governor Tom Wolf. The new law will make hazing resulting in serious bodily injury or death a third-degree felony.

Wolf said the commonwealth will now have one of the strongest anti-hazing laws in the country.

“It will ensure that our schools have safeguards in place to stop hazing and its students will have information they need to help make decisions about which organizations to join,” Wolf said.

BookMark: "Looking For Alaska" By John Green

Oct 18, 2018

When I was a senior in high school, a girl I dated introduced me to the work of John Green. But it wasn’t a book that she gave me. I was studying for AP European History, and she sent me a link to a Youtube video where John talked about the French Revolution. John Green and his brother, Hank, each post a video every week to a Youtube channel called vlogbrothers. I don’t know how much I realized it when I first started watching the channel, but I really needed something like vlogbrothers.


In a meeting room at the Unity Church in State College, a group of women gathered to rehearse the songs they’ll perform live on Friday night. These five women will use jazz, soul, R&B and hip-hop music to share their experiences as black women, sing through trauma, heal and have fun.

The idea behind Soul Space is to create a safe space for black women, by black women to tell their stories. Wideline Seraphin, one of the event organizers and performers, said in State College few of these spaces exist.

In this file photo from March, Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman released the details of the "Timothy J. Piazza Antihazing Law" with the Piazza family and Penn State president Eric Barron.
Min Xian / WPSU

An anti-hazing law passed its final vote in the Pennsylvania state senate on Monday. The bill was approved unanimously and is now heading to the governor’s desk.

The Timothy J. Piazza Antihazing Law is named after Penn State student Tim Piazza, who died in 2017 from alcohol hazing. 

The new law will create tiers for hazing charges, which means hazing resulting in serious bodily injury or death would be a third-degree felony, with a prison sentence of up to seven years.

Fair Trade Store In State College Holds Grand Opening

Oct 15, 2018
Ten Thousand Villages on South Atherton Street holds its grand opening week starting Oct. 19.
Maddie Biertempfel / WPSU

Joel Weidner, the Board Chairman of the State College Ten Thousand Villages store, showed off a bronze singing bowl made in Nepal.  

“They’re really cool. They can be used for meditation or just as beautiful pieces of art,” Weidner said.

The bowl is one of many fair-trade international goods sold at the nonprofit store that opened on South Atherton Street last month. On Friday, the store will kick off a welcome week to celebrate its opening.

Weidner says events will include a ribbon cutting, meditation sessions, a drum circle and musical performances.

Happy Valley Vineyard and Winery Owner Barbara Christ points out grapes that could be affected by the spotted lanternfly.
Maddie Biertempfel / WPSU

Happy Valley Vineyard and Winery owner Barbara Christ stands among ten acres of grapevines on neat rows of trellises.

She points to a post at the end of one row of vines as a perfect location for an unwelcome visitor.

“They would definitely lay egg masses on something like this," she said. 

Christ is a retired Penn State plant pathology professor whose research focused on plant diseases. As a vineyard owner, she’s keeping an eye out for the spotted lanternfly.

“It could be extremely devastating to an operation like ours,” Christ said. 

Participants rappel down the 12-story Fraser Center.
Maddie Biertempfel / WPSU

Rappelling down a 12-story building isn’t a typical way to spend a Thursday afternoon—unless it’s for a good cause.

“Oh my gosh, that was crazy. Yeah, I guess I’m not as afraid of heights as I thought I was,” Wendy Vinhage said.

Vinhage—now at ground level—is director of the nonprofit organization, Interfaith Human Services.

Her group, along with the FaithCentre, hosted “Over the Edge.” The event raised money for each group's mission to provide resources for Centre County residents in need.

NextGen America, progressive advocacy group, says State College is one of the highest performing areas in terms of numbers of registered young voters. The group has been working to get young people to register and vote.
Photo courtesy of NextGen America


Since the Parkland shooting in February, there have been movements nationwide to energize young people to vote in this November’s midterm elections.


Jessica Maggio is a part of that movement. Recently, she stood outside of the HUB Robeson Center on Penn State’s University Park campus, attempting to strike up conversations with students streaming into and out of the building.

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.