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The Latest Edition of Voices of Central Pa

Struggle over West End vision continues

The State College West End

                 By Suzan Erem

When Holmes-Foster residents turned out this August for a State College Borough Council meeting to say their piece at the late-night work session that followed, the script was straight out of any local development debate: Increased and misdirected traffic will cause problems; higher density means higher crime and higher cost of public services; if only the borough would invest in good sidewalks and decent street lamps, responsible development would follow.

What was unusual was the sheer endurance of those residents and others who spoke that night. They have been attending meetings, contributing to reports, talking with their neighbors and advocating their vision of this area just west of Atherton Street for almost 20 years.

This latest upsurge in community involvement was caused by the suspicion among homeowners that they’d been the victims of yet another bait-and-switch, the latest chapter of which began three years ago when the borough hired Delta Development and its subcontractor EDSA. After paying more than $308,000 in public funds for a report the community appeared to agree upon in 2007, why was council now considering a plan that had changed so radically? Where did some notion of high-rise student housing come from, for example, and why was it landing in their back yards? Read more »

Sad news - State College Mayor Bill Welch passed away

Voices has learned that State College Mayor Bill Welch died today, September 4th, at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, as a result of complications from leg surgery, at the age of 68. Bill Welch was a low key but progressive mayor, who was recently famed for presiding at same-sex civil unions at PSU. "Mayor Bill Welch said he was asked to perform the ceremony by a Penn State group supporting gay, bisexual and transgender students. "It's not illegal or immoral," Welch said. "I'm pro-commitment. I favor love and I didn't see any reason not to do it."

Health care reform debate videos

"I got to witness something really special. About a dozen tea party activists had staked out Sen. Al Franken's booth, and confronted him loudly when he arrived. But within minutes, he'd turned an unruly crowd into a productive conversation on health care. The discussion went from insurance reform, to the public option, to veterans benefits, to cap and trade. He made a few laugh and even told a touching story that moved a few to tears. A whole lot of common ground was found." "Women In Wheelchair Booed At New Jersey Health Care Town Hall - 09/03/09"

For The Next 7 Generations

By Sara Blackwell Thirteen women’s journey to promote spiritual unity, compassion, healing and world peace came full circle in a documentary five years in the making and recently premiered at The State Theatre in State College. “For The Next 7 Generations,” directed by New York-based Carole Hart, is dedicated to her husband Bruce, who died in 2006. The film’s production, which was launched in October 2004 culminated in its screening in August in front of an estimated 200 people. “It’s been deeply informative, deeply transformative and I am grateful to the grandmothers,” said Hart, who came from New York City to attend the premier. “I hope that people around the country and the world will feel the transformation I felt.” The grandmothers profiled in the film came together because of a vision they shared to help promote peace throughout the world. A spiritual leader name Jyoti also had a vision of 13 indigenous women. The grandmothers met for the first time in New York in October 2004. The thirteen women shared their own experiences of being grandmothers and realized they also share a strong belief in the power of prayer and in the idea that Mother Nature has blessed humanity with water, earth, fire and air. The grandmothers are from around the world, from different backgrounds and nations. Their colorful dress sets each apart but also helps identify them as a group and they overcome language barriers through interpreters and a fair amount of body language and laughter.

Influx of returning vets may set record

By Art Goldschmidt Penn State administrators must scramble to prepare for the influx of Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans who qualify for federal benefits under the Post 9-11 GI Bill passed by Congress in July. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports that 112,000 veterans applied for educational benefits from May through July 2009. Nearly all will qualify for the new benefits, which include tuition charges, a living allowance comparable to what military families receive, and even a $1,000 annual allowance for textbooks. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the projected cost will be $62 billion over the next decade. “This fall you’re going to see the largest influence of vets on campus since Vietnam. We’ll be changing the landscape of American classrooms,” Brian Hawthorne, 24, regional director of Student Veterans of America, recently told U.S. News and World Report. What is this likely to mean for Penn State? Statewide student enrollment, as of November 2008, was 92,613, an increase of 2,000 from the previous academic year, with the largest increase in the World Campus. University Park and the Commonwealth Campuses will be challenged by an influx of returning veterans in 2009 and more so in the years to come. In an August 3 press release, Penn State’s Office of Public Information predicted that as many as 340 degree-seeking veterans--twice the number enrolled during spring 2009—can be enrolled at University Park through the Yellow Ribbon Program, under which Penn State has agreed to share tuition costs with the Veterans Administration if costs exceed those of the state’s most expensive public institution. More than 1,000 U.S. colleges and universities, especially the expensive private ones, have signed up for the Yellow Ribbon Program. For Penn State, the program’s main cost will be forgoing part of the additional charges customarily levied on out-of-state students.

Woman Yells Heil Hitler at Jewish Man at Las Vegas Town Hall

Israeli man is praising the national health care system that Israel provides all it's citizens, and is attacked for his trouble. The end of the video is especially revealing - waaah waaah, she tauts, when he is amazed that two hours in an american emergency room cost him $8000. Notice she's wearing an Israeli Defense Forces t-shirt?

Bill Cahir, '08 Dem candidate for congress, killed in Afghanistan

We are saddened to report that Bill Cahir, a local democrat who ran in the primary for the 5th district congressional seat last year, has been killed in Afghanistan. http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/breaking-news/index.ssf/2009/08/marine_sgt_bill_cahir_former_e.html "Cahir, a Penn State graduate who joined the Marine Corps Reserves in 2003, died in the Helmand River valley, the friend said. He was 40. ... In January 2008, Cahir, a Bellefonte, Pa., native, left the Newhouse News Service, where he'd worked since 1999, to run for the 5th Congressional District's Democratic nomination. He lost the hotly contested primary to Mark McCracken, a Clearfield County commissioner." Ex-congressional candidate Cahir dies in Afghanistan Bill left this video, from his primary race, on youtube.

Local farmers trying to grow hops for breweries

Local Hops
Hops vines reach for the sky at Mike Byers’ Potters Mills farm, Demeter’s Garden. Photo by Andrew Beam

by Andy Gabriel

Imagine taking a seat at a local pub and enjoying a frosty beer brewed with hops grown right here in Centre County. Thanks to two area farmers, that dream may soon become a reality.

Mike Byers, of Potters Mills, and Scott Case, of Aaronsburg, began growing hops last year just to see if it could be done. Both farmers are expecting their first harvest in August, and plan to sell their hops to Elk Creek Café and Aleworks in Millheim.

Tim Yarrington, head brewer at the café, confirmed that the company is interested in buying hops from both Byers and Case. Hops provide bitterness, flavor and aroma to a beer and are essential to the brewing process.

The two farmers could be the first to grow hops commercially in the area.

Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture membership director Michelle Gauger said there are no hops farms that belong to PASA and she is not aware of any that exist in Centre County.

Yarrington did not know of any local hops farms until Byers and Case began planting last year.

The two hops farms are the newest addition to a growing movement that emphasizes locally grown foods.

Elk Creek Café already supports the “buy local” trend in other ways. It boasts that most of the food it serves is raised or grown locally, and that its beers are brewed on-site.

Yarrington said there are many advantages to buying local ingredients, and hops would be no exception. He said having a relationship with farmers is an advantage, since it allows him to know exactly what he is buying – what goes into the hops and, more importantly, what stays out.

Both farmers said they are growing their hops organically.

State parks to stay open—at least for now

Whipples Dam
Whipple Dam had been one of the targeted parks in the initial information about park closures. Photo by Jill Gomez

by Jill Gomez 

The fate of Whipple Dam State Park was hanging in the balance in early June, and environmentalists across central Pennsylvania were up in arms about it.

Pennsylvania’s House Appropriations Committee was debating Senate Bill 850, sponsored by Senate Republicans in response to Gov. Ed Rendell’s proposed budget and passed by the Senate on May 6.

If passed by the House as well, some 50 of Pennsylvania’s 117 parks would have faced the threat of a shutdown, nine of which rim the Mid State Trail in the state’s central region forests. Read more »

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