State College

Photos of three persons of interest released by State College Police
State College Police Department

State College police have released photos of three persons of interest in the defacing of the Martin Luther King Jr. mural in downtown State College. 

An insignia and the words “PATRIOTFRONT.US” were stenciled onto the mural in a red substance. It was reported Friday afternoon, and happened in the overnight hours that day. 

Head shots of State College mayoral candidates Ezra Nanes and Jim Leous
Photos provided

Two Democrats — and no Republicans — are on the ballot in this year’s primary race for State College mayor. Ezra Nanes is director of business development at AccuWeather. He previously ran for state Senate and tried for a seat on the State College Borough Council, and he's a member of the Centre County Democratic Committee. Jim Leous leads the emerging technologies group for Penn State's Information Technology Services. He’s also a member of the State College Area school board and adviser to the Penn State College Democrats.

People walking on the sidewalk in downtown State College
Min Xian / WPSU

 

The Biden Administration is considering changing how many people have to live somewhere for it to count as a metropolitan area. That could have a big impact on Pennsylvania, experts testified during a public hearing hosted by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania Wednesday.

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

 

In a livestream Friday, leaders at Penn State and from the surrounding community voiced concerns about the recent uptick in coronavirus cases and a new, more infectious variant found in State College.

State College Mayor Ron Filippelli said police have been responding to more gatherings recently and he sees a relaxation of precautions across the board.

Jim Welsh / courtesy of Jim Welsh

We asked WPSU listeners to share their experience of this past year for our series, Pandemic, Year One. For today’s story, WPSU’s Kristine Allen spoke with a bicycle mechanic from State College who was lost his job due to COVID-19, then started his own business.

“I’ve always had a way with bicycles and a love for mechanical things. You know, take them apart, figure out how they work, that kind of thing.”

Jim Welsh of State College said he’s been working as a bicycle mechanic since he was about 14 years old.  He enjoys riding, too, around local trials.

courtesy of Katy Stager

In recent weeks, we’ve asked WPSU listeners to share their experience of this past pandemic year. WPSU’s Kristine Allen brings us their stories.  This is the first installment of our series, “Pandemic: Year One.”  Today she talks with a mother of four who has been trying to keep her family safe while dealing with social isolation and trying to stay positive.

“When we were looking back, we kind of referred to that week, our last vacation, as the week the world stopped.”

Patricia Best and Leslie Laing are members of the State College/Centre County Task Force on Mental Health Crisis Services.
Patricia Best photo by Chuck Fong; Leslie Laing photo provided

A task force spent a year looking at mental health crisis services in State College and Centre County. Members of the task force Patricia Best and Leslie Laing talked with WPSU about the current state of those services, the challenges service providers face and the recommended changes for reform. Here's their conversation.

Min Xian: Welcome to Take Note on WPSU. I’m Min Xian.

A a technician sitting above a manhole next to a red cone installs a flow meter into the university's sewage network.
Michael Shreve / Penn State

A team of Penn State researchers is using wastewater testing to track the rise and fall of the COVID-19 virus in the State College area. WPSU's Anne Danahy spoke with Andrew Read, director of the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, about the project. Here's their conversation. 

Anne Danahy 

Andrew Read, thank you for talking with us.

Andrew Read 

Sure.

Anne Danahy 

A vaccinator administered a shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to a patient during a mass vaccination clinic held by Centre Volunteers in Medicine on Saturday, Feb. 6.
Min Xian / WPSU

 

Centre Volunteers in Medicine hosted one of Centre County’s first COVID-19 mass vaccination clinics Saturday, vaccinating about 1,200 people at Mount Nittany Middle School.

Pamela Moeng was one of them. Moeng works at Park Forest Middle School and said she tried to sign up for vaccination appointments with multiple providers before she was finally scheduled by CVIM. 

A protester holds a sign that says, "WHO IS OFFICER ONE?"
Min Xian / WPSU

About 50 people attended a protest in downtown State College Tuesday night to renew calls to remove three borough police officers who were involved in the killing of Osaze Osagie. 

The protest was sparked by new details in the lawsuit by Osagie’s parents against the police. In an amended complaint filed in the federal court Monday, the family of Osaze Osagie alleged that former borough police officer Jordan Pieniazek abused alcohol and had behavioral issues. 

People walking on the sidewalk in downtown State College
Min Xian / WPSU

Prompted by COVID-19, State College is looking into creating a health department, which would give the borough more control when responding to future pandemics and other public health issues.

Borough Manager Tom Fountaine said having a health department would let the borough be more agile when responding to situations like the significant population fluctuations that happened this year during the pandemic. State College saw most Penn State students leave in March then return in the fall.

Two yard signs that read Black Lives Matter and Thank You Police Officers displayed side by side
Emily Reddy / WPSU

The State College Borough Council passed its 2021 budget Monday night. The budget will fund the creation of two community-based groups to address issues stemming from the 2019 police killing of Osaze Osagie. 

In a 5 to 2 vote, the Council approved a budget of more than $69 million in expenses and $59 million in revenue. With a nearly $10 million projected shortfall, the borough will leave six currently vacant positions unfunded in the new year, including two police officers.  

Matt Slocum / Associated Press

A major winter storm is bringing heavy snow and sleet to Pennsylvania. Winter storm warnings continue through Thursday morning for most of the state.

"The worst of the storm is actually going to be Wednesday night into early Thursday morning," said Marisa Ferger, a meteorologist at Penn State. "It’s going to make for some very dangerous travel. So if you do have to drive, I would suggest doing it earlier in the day because it is going to be falling very fast and very hard."

Penn State Old Main building
Min Xian / WPSU

As Penn State wraps up the in-person portion of the fall semester this week, 236 students university-wide have tested positive for COVID-19 from 15,600 departure tests conducted since Nov. 12, according to a release from the university Friday.

More than 5,500 results are still pending at University Park, where the majority of departure tests were administered. Penn State says results can take up to 48 hours or more and tests administered later in the week will be included in next Tuesday’s dashboard update.

Sam Davey / courtesy of Centre Film Festival

The Centre Film Festival is happening this weekend. It was held at the Rowland Theatre in Philipsburg last year. But this year, because of the pandemic, it’s coming to a living room near you.

 

“So we’re in our second year, and obviously we hope to continue in person next year,” says Pearl Gluck, who teaches film in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications at Penn State. She’s co-founder of the Centre Film Festival. 

 

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 photo, 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. 

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