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, Oct. 13, 2018:
EXCHANGE-FINDING COMMON GROUND
GETTYSBURG — They sat in a circle, Republicans next to Democrats, Trump supporters alongside Trump critics. No one pointed fingers. No one yelled at anyone. When it was over, everyone shook hands. On a recent rainy evening, 10 people gathered inside a Gettysburg church — not far from the rolling hills where Union and Confederate soldiers fought a climactic battle that turned the tide of the Civil War — and tried to find ways to heal the deep political divisions that have engulfed America in another sort of civil war. First, however, the group, which calls itself Politics, Facts and Civility, had to agree on a few rules. “We’re here to be nice to each other,” said Currie Kerr Thompson, a retired Gettysburg College professor and the group’s leader. Mike Kelly, North Jersey Record
EXCHANGE-HOMELESS IN THE WOODS
CROYDON — A quiver of anger crept into James Fonde’s voice as he surveyed the bleak, littered patch of woods where his mother’s life ended, an overlooked corner of Croydon between Route 13 and a residential neighborhood. “She wasn’t supposed to die back here,” he said. “I hate it when people say this is God’s plan. His plan was for her to die here, in the mud by a tree? Don’t tell me that.” A few feet away, his brother, Brian Winder, sat on a stump, lit a cigarette, and hung his head in silence. Their mother, Beverly Winder, died on that spot last month when a storm-damaged tree Winder was cutting down struck another as it fell, changing direction and landing on her. Her death - which authorities have ruled an accident - cast a public spotlight on the clandestine homeless camps spread throughout lower Bucks County. Vinny Vella, The Philadelphia Inquirer.
EXCHANGE-TRUMP THREAT-CAPTURED FUGITIVE
MCADOO — Shawn Christy is not an anti-government nor an anti-law enforcement radical, his parents said in a recent wide-ranging interview. And is he not politically motivated, they insist. So, who is Shawn Christy? And why did the 26-year-old McAdoo man threaten President Donald Trump and lead authorities on a multi-state, 95-day manhunt? Karen and Craig Christy say Shawn asked the government for assistance after a 2017 incident, and when he didn’t get a response, he acted out. “His back was to the wall,” Craig said. But before he was a fugitive, Shawn Christy was a “simple man,” something his parents say got lost in the barrage of news stories and public opinions that flooded social media accounts as the story of his flight unfolded. Amanda Christman, The (Hazleton) Standard-Speaker.
EXCHANGE-1918 FLU PANDEMIC REMEMBERED
PITTSBURGH — Two sisters from Greece remained close after emigrating to Western Pennsylvania early in the 20th century. Susana Mazarakis Pavlakis and Mary Protos both settled in Vandergrift and began raising families when an unseen visitor — a quickly spreading, deadly influenza virus — splintered their households. Its dark legacy would affect generations to come, including Pavlakis’ great-granddaughter, Loretta Sword of North Huntingdon. “A lot of the traditions were lost because she was separated from her father,” Sword said. “Grandmother suffered from losing her mother at a very young age. She had a very difficult life.” Spurred by a longtime interest in such diseases, Thomas Soltis, an assistant professor of sociology at Westmoreland County Community College, is among those shining a light on the pandemic during its 100th anniversary. Jeff Himler, Tribune-Review.
EXCHANGE-ABANDONED STEEL TOWN
NORTH BRADDOCK — The pile of rubble next door didn’t deter Nathan and Christina Van Patter from closing on the $85,000 purchase of a North Braddock house four months ago. They figured the mess would be gone before the leaves fell. But the heap of brick, wood, metal and trash was still there last week, a reminder of the difficulties facing the region’s little municipalities — and an example, to some, of the reasons why some of them might cease to exist. Van Patter, a 30-year-old social worker and sometime artist whose wife is expecting their first child, came to North Braddock in search of “a model of community that’s different — people see each other, and know each other, and have a different kind of social fabric.” He’s found that. He didn’t know, though, that he was hitching his growing family’s wagon to a community that is drowning in abandoned homes, to the extent that some officials are talking about throwing themselves on the mercy of the county. Rich Lord, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.