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, Sept. 15, 2018:
EXCHANGE-COAL COUNTRY SCHOOLS
CARMICHAELS — The fire hall whistle blew in town a few miles away, marking the big moment of the night: the crowning of the 2018 Bituminous Coal Queen at Carmichaels High School. Craig Baily, retired school superintendent and master of pageant ceremonies, wore a black tuxedo and tails. Teenage girls packing the school auditorium shrieked. Albert Gallatin High School senior Holly Lesko (“Go Colonials!”) crouched slightly in her heels and gown and smiled wide as the crown was placed on her head by Gary Wilson, superintendent of the Cumberland Mine, a coal operation 20 miles from the high school. The crowning of the queen is a Greene County tradition that started in 1954, a time when bituminous coal fueled an economy — feeding, clothing and schooling generations. But King Coal’s grip is slipping. Bituminous represents 90 percent of all coal burned in the United States, but most of the mines around Carmichaels played out years ago. Two big Greene County mines closed in the past year. Production at a third has been falling. Nowhere has the sting been felt more acutely than at the county’s five school districts, where 27 percent of the tax base — $414 million in value — is tied to coal. And that erodes with each chunk torn from the ground. Kris Mamula, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
EXCHANGE--TOT’S TEAM LESSONS
MANHEIM — Manheim Central football coach Dave Hahn stood on the grass practice field on a late August weeknight, watching from afar as the starting defense got its reps in preparation for a game later that week. Hahn wasn’t focusing on X’s and O’s, though. He was talking about a boy who’s been helping the team at every practice, and about why he decided to make that boy, 9-year-old Jaxon Brubaker, a manager this season. Jaxon, a third-grader at Manheim Central’s Doe Run Elementary School, can be seen at most Barons football practices and every Friday night on the Manheim Central sidelines, either handing out water bottles to players or retrieving the kicking tee after every Barons kickoff. Jaxon’s story and personality have given his Baron teammates a new perspective. John Walk, LNP newspaper.
PENNSYLVANIA’S BIG CATS
PHILADELPHIA — An instinct coiled way down in the human brain knows the difference between a bobcat and a mountain lion. A bobcat gives you a warm, that-kind-of-looks-like-my-cat-but-slightly-bigger feeling. Then there is Rocky. It’s 90-something degrees, but the 290-pound mountain lion’s stare feels like ice down your pants. “He doesn’t like men too much,” said Suzanne Murray, owner of East Coast Exotic Animal Rescue in this south-central Pennsylvania town. A placard affixed to the fence outside Rocky’s pen states that “cougars are solitary creatures and rarely seen by humans.” But more and more people in Pennsylvania, from the Alleghenies to the Poconos to rolling farmlands in York County, claim they are seeing the big cats here, even though the state’s “last” native lion was shot and killed in Berks County in 1871. None of these sightings has been authenticated, and many turned out to be bobcats. Still, people say they know what they saw out there. Jason Nark, The Philadelphia Inquirer.
FIGHTING TO WALK AGAIN
PITTSBURGH — Almost immediately, everything went in slow motion. Seconds after diving into the Allegheny River, Sydney Angelo’s head hit bottom. Slam. She couldn’t feel anything. Angelo floated to the top. Around her, above her, the world crawled to a terrifying, stagnant pace. “I was like a dead body floating in the water,” she recalled. Angelo, 22, had dislocated her spine. At that moment, her life would take a detour she had never expected. It was like time had stopped. And her life, once filled with hiking, swimming and the busy clip of a millennial lifestyle, seemed to be deflating. Her body stopped moving. Her brain did not. From the hospital, a friend delivered the news to Angelo’s mother, Barb: Sydney dove into shallow water and can’t move her body, he told her. “You can’t believe the words you’re hearing,” Barb Angelo, 59, of Robinson would say later. “That’s something that a parent never wants to hear.” Luis Fábregas, Tribune-Revew.
EXCHANGE-RAISING MONARCH BUTTERFLIES
CHAMBERSBURG -- Vonnie Black follows erratic first flight of a monarch butterfly. She smiles. She’s seen it hundreds of times. “They are just so amazing,” Black said. The great grandmother has been raising the orange and black butterflies for more than 20 years from her home in Hamilton Township. “I’ve let 200 go for the year,” she said. “Things were different this year. I’ve had more monarchs and worms than I’ve ever had. The butterflies came in July. They usually come in August. They never come in July. I think I’ve already had two generations.” The generation currently hatching will make a 2,000-mile flight to overwinter near Mexico City. After a winter in Mexico this longest-lived generation of monarchs will migrate north in March to Texas. Their descendants, each living for just two to six weeks, will move north for three or four more generations before another “supergeneration” returns to the same forest in Mexico. Jim Hook, (Chambersburg) Public Opinion.