Centre County

Danielle Dormer at the WPSU studios.
Min Xian / WPSU

This episode of Take Note is part of "State of Emergency: Searching for solutions to Pennsylvania’s opioids epidemic." State of Emergency is a combined effort of newsrooms across the state to draw attention to programs, therapies and strategies that are actually showing promise in the fight against this public health crisis.

Crews excavated ground from around a sinkhole that opened up on College Avenue near the Nittany Mall.
Tyler Olson / WPSU

Drivers on part of East College Avenue outside of State College are being forced to take a detour thanks to a sinkhole that opened up over the weekend.

A sinkhole about one and a half feet wide was discovered Saturday afternoon on East College Avenue near the Nittany Mall. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation immediately closed the stretch between Benner Pike and Shiloh Road for repairs. For now, drivers are taking a short detour.

"Eat First, Cry Later" author Mimi Brash Coppersmith.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

In State College in the late 1950s, she was a rarity: a progressive, a business owner, and a woman.

Mimi Barash Coppersmith celebrates her 85th birthday with a newly published memoir, "Eat First, Cry Later: The Life Lessons Of A First-Generation College Graduate, Penn State Alumna and a Female CEO." It recounts 48 life lessons drawn from an exceptional life brimming with triumphs and tragedies. She talked with Patty Satalia for WPSU's Take Note. 

What SCASD Schools Are Doing To Keep Students Safe

Jun 7, 2018
Students outside of State College Area High School on Jan. 8, 2018.
Min Xian / WPSU

As the school year draws to a close in State College, teachers and school officials are thinking about the recent school shootings in other cities, and how to keep students here safe. Cindy Simmons talked to some of them for WPSU.   

State College Area School District will no longer provide straws in cafeterias.
AP Photo

The State College Area School District has decided to phase out plastic straws in an effort to reduce waste. Megan Schaper, the district’s director of food service, was making the menu for Earth Day when she came up with the idea to get rid of plastic straws in the new State High cafeteria.

“It’s just a little that I think we can do –  that everybody can do – to help with the plastic pollution problem,” Schaper said.  “Plastic straws are not recyclable. There’s nothing that happens to them other than they go into the landfill and plastic takes at least 500 years to break down.”

Tomi Adeyemi has been hailed the next J.K. Rowling. She’s the author of the best-selling young adult fantasy “Children of Blood and Bone.” I’m all for the comparison if it encourages people to read the 24-year-old’s gripping debut novel, but I actually think it deserves to stand on its own. I devoured this book.

The Patton Township Board of Supervisors made changes to a proposed zoning code that would encourage affordable housing and allow more density. They heard public input on May 9th during a public hearing.
Min Xian / WPSU

The Patton Township Board of Supervisors made changes to a proposed zoning code that could apply to the Patton Crossing project on North Atherton Street in the State College area. The new version of the code encourages developers to build more affordable housing units while allowing more density.


Trailhead founder Spud Marshall stands in his living room with his dog, Bodi, surrounded by post-it notes from various project planning meetings.
Sarah Paez / WPSU

A new group in State College called "Trailhead" is working to make Centre County a more vibrant, interesting place to live.

Spud Marshall, a local entrepreneur who wears many different hats, was hiking with his dog, Bodi, at Rothrock State Forest when he got the idea for Trailhead. He realized there was no place in Centre County that acted as a guide for community engagement and change, like a trailhead sign guides a hiker to a trail.

Through his work with the community, he said people often tell him they don’t feel connected.

Tuesday is primary election day in Pennsylvania, which the state postponed from April because of the coronavirus. This year’s primary will feel different with potentially longer lines at polling places even though fewer voter are expected.
Min Xian / WPSU


Although low turnout is generally expected for midterm primary elections, more voters were motivated to go to the polls during Tuesday’s primary in Pennsylvania because of how competitive some races are. 

By 11 a.m. on Tuesday, 120 ballots were cast at Mount Nittany United Methodist Church in Lemont. Judge of Elections Laurel Zydney said she expected low turnout for this midterm primary, because people may not want to have a party affiliation and there’s a lack of contested races. 

Developers of the Patton Crossing project, (from left) Ara Kervandjian, Bob Poole and Heidi Nicholas, attended the public hearing on Wednesday. The board voted against the rezoning so they could reconsider some details of the zoning guidelines.
Min Xian / WPSU

Split opinions on whether to pass a new zoning code for a Patton township development project have left the future of the potential development uncertain. 

After nearly three hours of hearing public input and discussing among themselves, the Patton Township Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 against passing the new zoning code on Wednesday. 

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.

The Outing Club is one of three student-run clubs that have been disbanded by Penn State. The president of the club meets with the university Wednesday to negotiate.

Outing Club president Richard Waltz found the club his first year at Penn State. He says it was a pivotal moment for him.

“Freshman year that first trip to Shenandoah just absolutely changed the course of my college career,” Waltz said. “It was a defining moment for me.”

Author Sunil Yapa.
Franco Vogt

Sunil Yapa’s book “Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist” was the Centre County Reads book for 2018 and a finalist for the 2017 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. Yapa is a State College native who graduated from Penn State in 2002 with a degree in economic geography. He got his MFA at Hunter College. WPSU's Emily Reddy talked with him in front of an audience on the Penn State University Park campus.

Jerry Sandusky entering courthouse with paperwork
AP Photo / Gene J. Puskar

A grinning Jerry Sandusky, dressed in an orange jumpsuit, entered a Centre County courtroom Friday morning, waving to a small handful of supporters. The former Penn State assistant football coach is almost four years into a 30 to 60-year sentence for child sexual abuse, most of which has been spent in solitary confinement for his own protection.

A group of panelist discussed Centre County's growing heroin epidemic in Mount Nittany Medical Center on July 26, 2016.
Erin Cassidy Hendrick / WPSU

Over 200 people attended a town hall meeting to discuss the growing epidemic of heroin and opioid drug addiction in Centre County. A group of panelists ranging from law enforcement, medical professionals and public health officials focused on raising awareness and the need to treat drug addiction as a disease.

Low Turnout Expected at Primary Municipal Elections

May 14, 2015
Matt Rourke / AP Photo

Municipal and judicial primary elections are coming up Tuesday, May 19. Voter turn out for these elections is generally low. Around 15 to 20 percent of registered voters are expected to show up to choose candidates for positions like sheriff or school board director.

Centre County Elections Director Joyce McKinley says there are two particularly interesting contests in Centre County this year.

“It’s on the Republican ballot, the Register of Wills and the Sheriff,” McKinley said.

There are two Republican candidates for each of those positions.

Centre County Issues Gay Marriage Licenses

May 21, 2014

After a flood of complaints, the Register of Wills' office in Centre County is issuing gay marriage licenses.

WPSU is traveling to towns across central and northern Pennsylvania to collect oral history recordings. In October, we stopped at the Old Gregg School in the Penns Valley town of Spring Mills. Penns Valley Conservation Association president Jim Zubler and the new executive director, Andrea Ferich, talk to Tom Doman, one of the early leaders of PVCA, about its importance to the Penns Valley community.  


WPSU is traveling to towns across central and northern Pennsylvania to collect oral history recordings. In October, we stopped at the Old Gregg School in the Penns Valley town of Spring Mills. Robin Bastress talks with Penns Valley Elementary School teacher and cross-country and basketball coach Terry Glunt about coaching and teaching in Penns Valley for 25 years.  

WPSU is traveling to towns across central and northern Pennsylvania to collect oral history recordings. In October, we stopped at the Old Gregg School in the Penns Valley town of Spring Mills. Jim Zubler and Andrea Ferich talk to Nicholas Brink about his time in central Pennsylvania starting with when he moved here in 1970 to take a job at Penn State. Brink had already been active in the civil rights movement while he was working on a PhD at UCLA.  

Yesterday, WPSU's Kate Lao Shaffner reported on Centre County's Out of the Cold and Hearts for the Homeless programs. Today, we'll hear about the year-round reality of homelessness in State College, a town where many might assume homelessness isn't a concern.

Hearts for the Homeless, a drop-in day center located in downtown State College, opened its doors for the first time yesterday. WPSU's Kate Lao Shaffner reports.  

Paul Sweeney

WPSU's Kate Lao Shaffner shadows Penn State School of International Affairs students as they participate in a simulation of a UN peace conference centered on a complicated international issue.  

In a time when potential employers are increasingly interested in more than just a grade point average, students are turning to internships, even in disciplines that don't require it.  

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.