BC-PA--Exchange, Advisory, PA
Here are the stories for this week’s Pennsylvania Member Exchange package. If you have any questions, contact the Philadelphia bureau at 215-561-1133.
For use anytime:
Editorials from around Pennsylvania.
For Saturday, April 13, 2019:
LEVITTOWN _ Claire and Norah Saloky didn’t know many siblings like them who share a birthday — until their middle school organized a special yearbook photo in March. The Saloky sisters, who are fraternal twins, learned they are one of 16 sets of twins (plus two sets of triplets) among the 892 students at Poquessing Middle School in Lower Southampton. As startling as that number sounds, get ready for another double take. Nearby Maple Point Middle School has 33 sets of twins. Pearl Buck Elementary School, also in Middletown, has 21 sets of twins and a set of triplets. Neshaminy High School has 40 sets of twins. Altogether, the Neshaminy School District has 175 sets of twins, five sets of triplets and one set of sextuplets among its 8,300 students. The situation is not unusual, either. Once a rarity, multiple births have become so common that school district officials were stunned to learn as much as 7 percent of students in some schools are a twin or triplet. The drastic increase in twins created a need to understand what experiences and challenges these students may have as they enter the school system . The trend also resurrected debate among educators over whether keeping multiples separate or together is best for academic and social development. Jo Ciavaglia, Bucks County Courier Times.
EXCHANGE-AMISH COUNTRY CASINO
PHILADELPHIA _ Few people grasped the monumental implications of Pennsylvania’s expanded gaming law until Penn National Gaming Inc. announced plans recently to build a so-called “mini-casino” in a Berks County community on the edge of Amish Country. Penn National Gaming saw an opening to place a new gaming hall at a Pennsylvania Turnpike exit just outside Chester County to attract gamblers from Philadelphia’s growing western suburbs. Caernarvon Township, which includes Morgantown, saw an opportunity to capture host-community tax benefits for its 4,000 residents that otherwise might go to a neighboring municipality. But many residents in this politically conservative area, where it’s not unusual to see Amish families driving horse-drawn carriages to shop at Walmart, regard the casino project as a deal with the devil. They see the proposed casino as a threat, an insult to a deeply religious community that could lead to an increase in drinking, personal bankruptcy, broken families and general moral decay. Andrew Maykuth, The Philadelphia Inquirer.
EXCHANGE-HELPING DISTRESSED COMMUNITIES
DUQUESNE _ Every weekday after school, dozens of children pour into a repurposed former Serbian Club on North Third Street in Duquesne. The walls of the Duquesne-West Mifflin Boys & Girls Club are decorated with cheerful slogans: “The Positive Place for Kids!” “The Club That Beats the Streets!” “Great Futures Start Here.” They are a small counterweight to the reality that the city has one of the highest child poverty rates in the region and services are few. And the one thing the state offers to turn things around — Act 47, for “financially distressed” municipalities — hasn’t done the trick for the city of 5,500, despite decades of oversight. A new plan, expected to be approved next month, calls for continued spending limits and a more coordinated approach to development. Kate Giammarise, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
LANCASTER _ Eleven years after a judge sentenced him to 12 months on probation for leaving the scene of a traffic accident, Robert Steele III, 31, was back in court because he owed over $4,800 in court costs. Steele and 11 other delinquent payers listened from the back of the courtroom as Lancaster County Judge Howard Knisely took the bench and launched into a scolding. “This is fines and costs court,” Knisely said. “This is not excuse hour. This is not your mother died last month ... You’re here,” the judge continued with bite in his tone, “because you haven’t paid.” Few fault judges for going after those who aren’t paying restitution that makes victims whole. But advocates for the poor and criminal justice reform see court costs as a different matter. Jailing someone for unpaid costs, they say, evokes the debtors prisons of long ago. They also question the cost-effectiveness of collections and the lack of transparency. Jeff Hawkes, LNP newspaper
EXCHANGE-FATHER-DAUGHTER POLICE OFFICERS
SCRANTON _ City police Sgt. David Dunn keeps a prophetic photo on his phone: his daughter dressed as a police officer for Halloween when she was about 5 years old. Now, Taylor Dunn wears the same uniform he does. “That’s when I knew,” he said as he showed off the picture. Taylor Dunn, 22, joined her father as a sworn officer of the Scranton Police Department on March 4. The pair are the first father and daughter to serve together on the force in the department’s history, city Police Chief Carl Graziano said, though there have been father-son duos in the department before, and officials said they are likely the first such duo in the county. But for as long as Taylor Dunn can remember, she wanted to be a police officer. Clayton Over, The (Scranton) Times-Tribune.