State College

A COVID-19 nasal swab test is administered to a person in a car
Min Xian / WPSU

  

Free COVID-19 testing at the Nittany Mall in State College began Friday, drawing a long line of residents, as part of the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s effort to contain the rising case numbers in Centre County.

Naomi Niyah, a graduate student at Penn State, went to the site on Friday morning. She said she hasn’t been contacted by the university for its surveillance testing program.

“I don’t like the current situation for testing so might as well do it myself here,” Niyah said. 

Carrie Jackson and Dawn Maguire, with the Holmes Foster Neighborhood Association, standing in front of a house.
Anne Danahy / WPSU

 

Penn State classes start this week, and as the campus with the largest student body in Pennsylvania kicks off the fall semester, many in State College are concerned that the arrival of tens of thousands of students could mean outbreaks of COVID-19.

 

"Keep Your Distance" sign with lion's paw print
Min Xian / WPSU

Penn State had to break up a large gathering of unmasked students apparently partying outside of dorms on the University Park campus Wednesday night, raising concerns in the community about the potential for COVID-19 outbreaks.

The get-togethers, documented on social media, defy the university’s rules requiring everyone to wear masks while in public spaces on campus and not to gather in groups. And, they came before classes start on Monday.

Signage for a COVID-19 collection site in State College, Pa.
Min Xian / WPSU

The State College Area School District is scheduled to return to school next week, and that’s also when Penn State classes start, raising concerns about the potential spread of COVID-19.

As questions are raised about how much cases will go up and how quickly test results are coming back, the State College Area school board will vote Monday night on whether to change its plans for in-school classes, moving entirely to remote learning after two weeks of in-person classes, at least while data about the rate of COVID-19 in the community is collected.

courtesy of Kyle Haust

People from many walks of life have lost employment due to COVID-19. This is particularly true of performers and artists who piece together a living from events that have now been cancelled due to the pandemic. WPSU’s Kristine Allen recently spoke with a central Pennsylvania musician who has seen most of his income dry up.

 TRANSCRIPT:

KYLE HAUST: My name is Kyle Haust, I’m from State College, and I’m 33 years old. And for a living, I play percussion. 

 

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

School districts across Pennsylvania are finalizing plans for reopening classrooms and teaching students remotely as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. WPSU's Anne Danahy spoke with State College Area School District Superintendent Bob O’Donnell and school board President Amber Concepcion about how that district is preparing for the fall.

TRANSCRIPT

The Office of Unemployment Compensation website
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

 

 

Since March 15, Pennsylvania has paid out more than $24 billion in unemployment benefits, according to the state's Department of Labor and Industry. But some central Pennsylvania residents, many of whom were laid off because of coronavirus shutdowns, are eligible for unemployment compensation aren't getting it. 

A line outside Doggie's Pub on Pugh Street in State College July 11, 2020.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

Young people, many not wearing masks, lined up outside several bars in downtown State College Saturday.

 

Those scenes — Penn State students socializing, but not social distancing — have many local residents worried about what the fall semester could bring. In response, the borough is looking into its options for enforcing mask-wearing in public places.

 

Emily Reddy / WPSU

 

 

In some parts of central and northern Pennsylvania, arts festivals are a summer tradition. But 2020 has been a tough year for festivals. As the COVID-19 pandemic took shape, many such events were canceled.

 

Rick Bryant, director of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts in State College, estimates that 99% of arts festivals around the country are canceled this summer.  

 

A "now hiring" banner from before the coronavirus hit still hangs outside The Corner Room in downtown State College.
Min Xian / WPSU

 

In keeping with federal Centers for Disease Control guidelines, college students in Pennsylvania will be counted where they’re actually living and plan to live for most of the year — not their permanent home addresses.

 

That will help towns like Lock Haven, Bradford and State College — where Penn State’s main campus is — see if COVID-19 cases are climbing.

 

In this file, marchers participate in a May 31, 2020, protest in State College against police brutality and racism.
Min Xian / WPSU

In a special meeting Tuesday night, State College Borough Council approved a resolution calling for racial justice and the creation of a community oversight board to address bias and racism.

Council voted unanimously to create an oversight board to address discrimination, bias and racism by local government and police. The resolution calls for it to be formed by Aug. 1. Councilman Evan Myers said it was time to take action. 

“Black men and women are dying at the hands of vigilantes and police, and we need to do all we can to stop that," Myers said.

The Juneteenth event will be held at State College's Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza.
Min Xian / WPSU

On Friday, State College’s new chapter of the NAACP will host its first-ever Juneteenth celebration. The event, which honors the emancipation of the last remaining African American slaves in 1865, will be held at State College’s Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza. 

 

State College's First 'Pride Parade' Goes Virtual

Jun 11, 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

 

On Saturday, State College will host its first-ever Pride parade. The parade, which originally would have gone through downtown, will be entirely virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In-person turnout for the primary election Tuesday was low in Centre County.
Min Xian / WPSU

In-person turnout for the primary election Tuesday was low in Centre County. Many voters opted to vote by mail, an option significantly expanded last year and especially encouraged because of COVID-19.

Jordan Emely is a judge of elections in State College. About ten percent of the voters registered in his precinct had sent in their mail-in ballots before the primary. 

More than a thousand people took to the streets in downtown State College Sunday to protest the death of George Floyd.
Min Xian / WPSU

More than a thousand people took to the streets in downtown State College Sunday to protest the death of George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis who died after a white police officer kneeled on his neck. 

Chanting “No justice, no peace!” and “say his name,” protestors started at the Allen Street Gate, then marched on College Avenue and Beaver Avenue. The march ended in front of the State College Municipal Building, where the police department is located. 

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. 

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. 

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.”

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.

TRANSCRIPT:

Min Xian: Patricia Best, thanks for joining us.

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. 

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.

Old Main
WPSU

Penn State has suspended a fraternity after a report of sexual assault that allegedly occurred there on Jan. 15. 

The university said in a statement Wednesday that the Office of Student Conduct has placed the Phi Sigma Delta Sigma chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity on "interim suspension" while the Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response and State College Police investigate.

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.

TRANSCRIPT:

About a hundred people attended a pro-impeachment rally in State College on Tuesday.
Min Xian / WPSU

Hundreds of “Impeach and remove” rallies took place across the country Tuesday, the night before the U.S. House of Representatives was scheduled to vote on the articles of impeachment against President Trump. In State College, about a hundred people attended a local rally.

Demonstrators chanted, “Impeach Trump!” and held signs including one that says, “No one is above the law.” 

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.

(SOUNDBITE OF “THE CHRISTMAS SONG”)

“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. 

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