More Human Cases of West Nile Virus Confirmed in Pennsylvania

The state’s West Nile Virus count stands at five with three more confirmed cases added this week.   The new cases involve two men in Delaware County and a woman in Centre County.  The earlier cases were in Franklin and Lancaster Counties.  Both were women.

Amanda Witman, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, says more than 18 hundred mosquitoes have tested positive for the virus, which is a very high infection rate.  She says Pennsylvania is on track to exceed the highest year ever.

DEP is asking people to eliminate standing water around their homes to reduce mosquito breeding grounds. Witman says it only takes a teaspoon of water for a mosquito to begin breeding and some areas that collect water are not as easy to detect. Those include flower pots, cracks in sidewalks, recycle bins, dips in the driveway and partially clogged gutters.

Witman says if you have an area of poor drainage where eliminating standing water is difficult, BTI tablets can be placed in the water to eliminate mosquito larvae. She says BTI is safe for home use and has a low toxicity profile for humans and animals.  She says it’s actually made from a soil bacterium.

Witman adds that the web site,, is a good resource for information on the virus, from the latest statistics for tips on reducing mosquito bite risk.

For point of comparison, Texas has already had 381 confirmed human cases of West Nile Virus this year and Mississippi and Louisiana have reported at least 60 cases each.

“Keystone Works” to Launch This Fall

Guidelines are being drafted for a new program called Keystone Works, which could help unemployed Pennsylvanians find a job more quickly.  “Keystone Works will provide an opportunity for the unemployed worker to receive training with a business while continuing to receive their UC benefits, at the same time incentivizing the employers to hopefully hire these unemployed individuals,” says Michelle Staton, deputy secretary for workforce development with the state Department of Labor & Industry.

The worker benefits by staying connected to the workforce, obtaining new skills and receiving job-specific training in a high-priority occupation.  Even if they are not hired at the end of the eight-week program, Staton tells us the new skills will make it easier to find work elsewhere.

The employer benefits because the program helps off-set the cost of training, and offers incentives of up to $1,500 for every trainee they hire.

The new state budget includes $2.5-million dollars to cover the cost of those incentives.  Staton says their goal is to train 2,000 workers in the first year of “Keystone Works.”  The Department of Labor and Industry will be developing a website specifically for individuals and companies interested in Keystone Works.

The statewide jobless rate currently stands at 7.5%.  July’s numbers are expected to be released later this week.

Hiking, River, Trees, Overlook, Nature

Appalachian Trail Turns 75 on Tuesday

There was no precedent for the Appalachian Trail in 1921, when Benton MacKaye dreamed it up as a wilderness refuge for people in the big cities of the eastern United States.  The first section was constructed in 1922, and the entire trail was completed on August 14th, 1937.

Spanning 2,200 miles from Georgia to Maine, the halfway point of the Appalachian Trail is in Cumberland County, PA.  That’s where you’ll find the Appalachian Trail Museum tucked away inside the Pine Grove Furnace State Park.  The museum is dedicated to preserving the trail’s history and sharing its stories.

A tribute to the trail’s founders is currently on display, including the typewriter Benton MacKaye used to write the initial article about the trail, and the bicycle wheel that Myron Avery used to measure the distance between the trail’s landmarks.

Back in 1937 it was hard to imagine somebody hiking the entire trail.  “It was seen as being practically endless,” says Appalachian Trail Museum president Larry Luxenberg.  “But you build it and they’ll come.”

It was more than a decade later that Pennsylvanian Earl Shaffer became the trail’s first thru-hiker.  “In 1948 he took to the trail and in four months completed the whole trail, and blazed a path for thousands of people to follow ever since,” explains Luxenberg.  Shaffer lived his entire life in York and Adams counties.

About 1,800 to 2,000 people attempt a “thru-hike” every year, according to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.  About one in four completes the journey, which takes an average of six months.

Luxenberg was among the special guest speakers at the Appalachian Trail 75th Anniversary Weekend Celebration, which took place in Harper’s Ferry, WV.

RadioPA Roundtable

Radio PA Roundtable 08.10.12

On this week’s Radio PA Roundtable, Brad Christman and Matt Paul bring you what may be Governor Tom Corbett’s most extensive comments to date on his role in the Jerry Sandusky investigation. You’ll also hear what Pennsylvania district attorneys would like to do with some of the $60 million in fines Penn State will be paying; and what happens to all those new stadiums and arenas after the Olympic Games are over?

Radio PA Roundtable is a 30-minute program featuring in-depth reporting on the top news stories of the week.

Click the audio player below to hear the full broadcast:


Christman Blog: Controversial T-Shirts at the Student Book Store

Okay, so it’s no secret that some people are upset with the NCAA for the sanctions handed down to Penn State University for its handling (or lack thereof) of the the Jerry Sandusky child sex scandal. Some think the NCAA overreached in fining the school $60 million, taking away scholarships, banning the Nittany Lions from bowl games for 4 years and vacating all the team’s wins from 1998 through 2011, among other penalties.

Now, those angry at the NCAA can take part in a time-honored facet of free speech: the snarky t-shirt.

Thursday was Media Day at Penn State, and after getting my interviews with new Coach Bill O’Brien and this year’s players, I headed downtown to visit the Student Book Store on East College Avenue. There, hanging amongst the other PSU apparel and various tchotchkes, was a blue t-shirt with bright white lettering. NCAA, it reads…except the “C” is a Soviet-era hammer and sickle.



Yeah, some people are really mad.

The shirt itself is not licensed by Penn State, and since it doesn’t mention the words “Penn State” or “Nittany Lions,” there’s not much the university can do about it. Additionally, the Student Book Store is an independent entity. They can display and sell whatever they wish. That being said, I do wonder what will happen the first time Penn State President Rodney Erickson sees a student walking around campus in this shirt, which sells for 15.99-17.99. The shirt was still available for sale on the Student Book Store’s website as of Friday morning.

The back of the shirt elaborates on the anti-NCAA sentiment: “OVERSTEPPING THEIR BOUNDS AND PUNISHING THE INNOCENT SINCE 1906.”

To be clear, I don’t think anyone who wears this t-shirt believes that any of the principle players named in the Freeh Report are necessarily “innocent.” Rather, I conclude that the reference is to the fans and the players remaining on the Nittany Lions roster, who will have to fight major uphill battles to enjoy even a modicum of success on the field in the coming years, given the harsh sanctions the school will endure.

Still, one critical question needs to be asked: is this the message PSU fans want to put out there right now…or ever?

The graphic on the shirt includes the website, which takes you to a business known as Smack Apparel. Their website features various other sports-related shirts with similar cutting or biting sarcasm (some are more clever than others). It strikes me as a company that knows how to make a quick buck when a controversy surfaces.

If I may, one piece of free advice for anyone who buys this shirt: DON’T wear it to Penn State games this fall. This is exactly the kind of thing ESPN’s cameras will be looking for in and around the stadium. Don’t make it easy for them. Take the high road and realize that humility is more appropriate now than defiant anger. Coach Bill O’Brien and every player I spoke to on Thursday showed me that the team is moving forward with grace and humility. All of Penn State country should follow their example.


(Brad Christman is the News Director for Radio Pennsylvania, a statewide service providing news and sports programming to radio stations across the Commonwealth)

A New Era of Penn State Football

The Penn State football team understands the position it’s in, and coach Bill O’Brien says the players know this season is about more than just football.  “This is about helping a community, this is about bringing much more awareness to child abuse, this is about making sure that we help lead this university… just to be a part of leading this university through the next three or four years that will be a challenge.”

O’Brien believes it’s time to move the university forward, and Governor Tom Corbett agrees.  “He has my 159% support,” Corbett said of O’Brien on Radio PA’s “Ask the Governor” program.  Corbett went on to say that he’ll be there to assist O’Brien in any way he can – whether as governor, a trustee or a fan.

Media Day on Thursday also gave coach O’Brien the chance to publicly address Penn State’s uniform changes for the upcoming season.  For the first time in the history of Penn State football, the players’ names will appear on the backs of their jerseys.

While stressing that he’s respectful of Penn State’s traditions, O’Brien said he wanted to give the players the recognition they deserve for going through tough times and sticking with the university.  But O’Brien said the most important patch on the Penn State uniforms this fall will be the blue ribbon that will show support for the victims of child abuse.

The new uniforms will make their debut on September 1st when the Nittany Lions open their season against the Ohio University Bobcats at Beaver Stadium.

District Attorneys: PSU Fine Should Fund Children’s Advocacy Centers

Now that the NCAA has slapped Penn State with a $60-million dollar fine to fund programs that prevent child sex abuse and assist its victims, the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association is weighing in on how that money should be used.  Association president Shawn Wager has written the presidents of both PSU and the NCAA to say those funds would be best used supporting the Children’s Advocacy Centers across the state.

“The DA’s Association has chosen to weigh in on this discussion regarding the use of the NCAA endowment funds because we as district attorneys believe Children’s Advocacy Centers best fulfill the obligations laid out in the consent decree by the NCAA,” Wagner says, “to provide direct services to child abuse victims and to focus on public education & child abuse prevention.  I can assure you Children’s Advocacy Centers do both of those things.”

Adams Co. District Attorney Shawn Wagner is president of the PDAA.

Wagner was joined by fellow prosecutors and victim advocates from across the state at news conferences in State College, Harrisburg and Philadelphia on Wednesday.

Victim advocate Jennifer Storm has been involved in the Jerry Sandusky case, and supports the district attorneys efforts:STORM

In a statement, Penn State lauded the work of both the DAs and the CACs.  It continues: “The University is working to formulate a plan to create and administer the fund. It is our hope the fund will produce countless opportunities to help children in need. We appreciate this valuable input and will provide additional details when they become available.”

Pennsylvania is home to 20-Childrens Advocacy Centers, which do not have a consistent or dedicated funding stream.  Advocates add that for every child served, there are hundreds of additional child victims in PA that do not have access to CACs.