What I’ve been up to

October 28, 2016 Leave a comment

So it has been several years since I updated this website. Since then, I:

Categories: Uncategorized

2012 in review

December 31, 2012 Leave a comment

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,100 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 4 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Categories: Uncategorized

Todd Platts, 10 candidates, and the Legend of Zelda: How to Create A “How to Pick a Congressman” Interactive Feature

April 28, 2012 Leave a comment

I love when news organizations go interactive.

When USA Today launched its first “Candidate Match Game” for the 2008 election, I was hooked. I hadn’t been that impressed by a game since I was 15 years old and watching the sunset on Hyrule Field in the “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.”

I was similarly addicted to the New York Times’ “You Fix the Budget” interactive feature. (It’s informative across the board, but the health care section is really helpful.)

So I was really excited to help launch an interactive quiz at the York Daily Record/Sunday News, to help voters keep track of the seven Republicans, two Democrats, and one Libertarian hoping to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Todd Platts, R-York County.

Shortly after we finished the quiz, Sunday editor Scott Blanchard and Brad Jennings, who is the assistant managing editor for visuals, described what it took to get it done.

Steve Buttry, director of community engagement and social media for Digital First Media, wrote about the quiz on his blog Friday.

“This was especially helpful in such a crowded race, but I think candidate quizzes will be helpful in the fall races as well. Some candidates will decide those races based on party loyalty, but the independent voters will decide those races, and some of them won’t be paying attention to your daily coverage.”

Buttry shares a few ideas for using candidate quizzes in the fall, and I’ve got a few of my own.

But what do you think? (Some people who took the quiz, commented that they would have liked questions on abortion and LGBT issues.)

How do you think we should use quizzes for the fall election?

Or for our general government and politics coverage?

And, on a personal note, how would you feel about a quiz, where people answered questions to determine which piece of the Triforce –power, courage or wisdom –would be embedded into their hand if said Triforce ever split into three pieces?

Ok, well, maybe that last one would’ve been cooler when I was 15. (And I’m using “cooler” in the broadest sense of the word.)

New job at York Daily Record/Sunday News.

April 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Hello, readers:

I’m going to be trying to post more often on the blog.

But the big news since my last update: I’m now working at the York Daily Record/Sunday News. I cover politics and government and just wrapped up covering the crowded and occasionally contentious 4th Congressional primary.

I’ll keep you posted.

Legislators spar over vouchers, spending for charter schools

December 21, 2011 Leave a comment





A proposal to create taxpayer-funded school vouchers in Pennsylvania may have suffered a fatal blow for this legislative year.

But Republican lawmakers hope they can revive another one of Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed education initiatives in the coming months.

“The issue is not dead. We have to still do a reform package on charter and cyber charters,” said state Rep. Paul Clymer, R-Bucks, chairman of the House Education Committee. “The whole idea is to have a fair and balanced package sometime this year that we can present to the committee and then to the General Assembly.”

But some Republicans disagree on what that final charter school package should look like.

State Rep. Mike Fleck, R-Huntingdon, voted against the charter school legislation Wednesday. He’s pushing legislation that would likely decrease funding for cyber charter schools, limit how much they can spend on advertising, and require the state to enforce minimum online and offline hours for students.

“They’re public schools. They’re here to stay,” said Fleck, a former Southern Huntingdon County school board member and current member of the House Education Committee. “But they need to be held to the same requirements as our regular public school system.”

State Rep. Dan Truitt, RChester, has two children enrolled at Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School in a program that blends online classes with brick-and- mortar classes. Also a member of the House Education Committee, Truitt is opposed to the idea of changing the funding formula for cyber charter schools

.“I’m very concerned about the Fleck legislation — that he’s going to accidentally break a good thing,” said Truitt.

The charter and voucher-school legislation failed with a 105-90 vote. Truitt plans to seek out the 20 Republicans who broke ranks with their party to help shoot down the plan.

“What I figure I’m going to have to do is hunt down each one of these people one at a time and find what held them back, what were their reservations,” said Truitt. “I’m looking at this list, trying to understand what the pattern is, and I don’t see anything that I can firmly grasp and say, ‘Aha, that’s where things went wrong.’ ”

The issue is especially relevant in Centre County.

State College Area School District spends more on charter schools than 95 percent of other Pennsylvania school districts. The county has four brick-and-mortar charter schools. The nearby Sugar Valley Rural Charter School typically draws 20 to 30 students fromthe Penns Valley Area. And Centre County students also attend cyber charter schools, including Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School, which opened a satellite office in Bellefonte this summer.

Read more: Legislators spar over vouchers, spending for charter schools.

Emotions run high at Ram Community Centre meeting

December 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Caption: A crowd listens as Allan Darr talks about the proposed Ram Community Centre on Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at the Penns Valley High School auditorium. Christopher Weddle




PENN TOWNSHIP — About 300 Penns Valley Area residents turned out for an informational meeting Wednesday night about the proposed $4.5 million Ram Community Centre.

The issue’s become controversial in recent weeks, and the moderator ended the meeting after some audience members started shouting questions and objections to the project and after two men in the crowd got into an argument.

“I don’t think anybody in this room says we don’t want a YMCA. We just don’t want it on the school property,” Johnathan Gillan shouted to the moderator, so he could be heard in the almost packed auditorium at Penns Valley Area High School.

One person greeted his comment with an “Amen” and some applauded. But a few sitting next to him objected.

“Why not?” shouted another man in the crowd. When Gillan responded that he had safety concerns, the other man — who later declined to give his name a reporter — mocked that argument.

“Do you actually think there’s going to be boogeymen hiding behind every bush, reaching out to grab a kid? Do you actually believe that?” the man shouted. “Come on. Jerry Sandusky is over there. He’s not here. He’s one guy. You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Then Russ Brooks, the moderator and supporter of the proposed projected, tapped on the microphone and told the audience he was wrapping things up.

“As I said at the outset, every question would be treated with respect even if we could not answer it tonight. Pardon me,” Brooks, who’s both a former Penns Valley Area school board member and a former Centre Hall mayor, said as one person yelled another comment. “The second point I made was we needed to be civil. And clearly there are levels of frustration among individuals that don’t permit that. And I’m genuinely sorry about that. But please stay and talk with any person here after we close the meeting, and look for other opportunities to learn more, and get more facts, and express yourself.”

The ending came shortly after 9 p.m., a little more than two hours into the meeting which had been highly anticipated in the region with about 9,000 residents. For the past several weeks, dueling road signs have been set up on Penns Valley Area lawns and farms.

At issue is whether the school district should lease land to a nonprofit organization that will build a community center. That all-volunteer nonprofit, known as the Ram Community Centre, has agreements to lease space inside the facility for a YMCA branch, medical offices and a senior center.

Leaders of the Ram Community Centre have listed answers to more than 60 questions at their website, http://www.pvramcentre.org, and they said Wednesday evening they planned to answer every question that audience members wrote down. Susan Dawson criticized the format of the meeting.

“There was an hour and a half given to their views, and no time giving to the opposing views,” she said. “The question and answer session was very controlled. And that was disappointing.”

From 7 to about 8:30 p.m., about 10 speakers and supporters of the project presented information. Then they fielded questions, but the questions had to be written down on index cards.

Brooks said he understood Dawson’s frustration. But he said the large meeting was a good setup for providing information, not debating an issue.

“The intention is to have small group meetings, with seven, eight, 10 people, have some coffee and talk,” Brooks said, “and really, really, deeply dive into some of those questions.” Ed Mahon can be reached at 231-4619.

Read more here: Emotions run high at Ram Community Centre discussion.

Trial turnout disappoints Bellefonte business owners

December 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Caption: West High Street in front of the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte is blocked off for the preliminary hearing of Jerry Sandusky on Tuesday, December 13, 2011. Nabil K. Mark CENTRE DAILY TIMES 





From the story:

Arlene Milton stayed at her restaurant, The Diamond Deli, until 11:30 p.m. Monday night and arrived at 3:45 a.m. Tuesday to finish preparing a breakfast buffett.

She opened at 5 a.m. offering a spread that included eggs, home fries, fruit salad, sausage, and sausage gravy with homemade muffins.But by 7 a.m., the shop — which she has owned for nine years and is adorned with old photographs and other Bellefonte memorabilia — only had about five customers.

“I’m disappointed. Where are these people?” she said. “You know, they come into town here, now they ought to be in here to eat.”

But she figured things would pick up.When Sandusky waived his preliminary hearing an hour-and-a-half later, those hopes faded.“All this food! As if it grows on your back,” she said. “Forget it. If it goes to trial, I’m closing the doors.”

Read more here: Trial turnout disappoints Bellefonte business owners.

Categories: Bellefonte, December 2011