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, Nov. 10, 2018:
ALLENTOWN — The sight of humane officers carrying dozens of tropical birds, a 14-foot boa constrictor, rabbits and rats from a Macungie home last month seemed shocking, if not bizarre. And when officers removed more snakes, as well as skunks, ferrets, alligators and giant tortoises from a Montgomery County home a few days later, the scene bordered on the surreal. The news was less shocking to those familiar with the $300 billion wildlife market, where exotic mammals and reptiles can fetch big money — much of it in illegal sales. The industry is regulated by federal, state and county agencies that register and license dealers but whose staffs are plagued by vacancies, giving hoarders and sellers room to amass potentially illegal menageries. “Unfortunately, it’s a very poorly regulated industry,” said Debra Leahy, manager of Captive Wildlife Protection for the Humane Society of the United States. Tim Darragh and Michelle Merlin, The (Allentown) Morning Call.
EXCHANGE-FENTANYL’S DEADLY RISE
PHILADELPHIA — The first time Nicki Saccomanno used fentanyl, she overdosed. It was 2016, and the 38-year-old from Kensington hadn’t known that the drugs she’d bought had been cut with the deadly synthetic opioid. She just remembers injecting herself with a bag, and then waking up surrounded by paramedics frantically trying to revive her. Saccomanno, who has been addicted to heroin for 10 years, was shaken. But, before long, there was barely anything else to take but fentanyl to stave off the intense pain of withdrawal. Every corner, it seemed, was selling it. Saccomanno and other longtime heroin users found themselves forced to adapt. For younger users, fentanyl is all they’ve ever known. Like others before them, many graduated from using legal painkillers to illicit opioids in the last few years — except when they turned to the streets to feed their addictions, they were buying a drug much more powerful than their older counterparts had started on. Young and old are paying for it with their lives. Aubrey Whelan, The Philadelphia Inquirer.
LANCASTER — Two weeks before the start of school, Joseph Torres, dean of students at George Washington Elementary School, spent a muggy afternoon visiting the homes of incoming kindergartners. A big, amiable man in a loud orange T-shirt and Madras shorts, Torres strolled through the complex of the 124 units of public housing at Franklin Terrace, waving when youngsters shouted greetings. Two faculty members accompanied Torres. Meanwhile, three other teams were stopping by homes elsewhere in Washington’s attendance zone in Lancaster’s Southeast, where over 40 percent of households live in poverty. Almost two years ago, a commission set a 15-year goal to halve Lancaster’s 29-percent poverty rate, identifying so-called community schools — which enlist outside partners to meet needs of the disadvantaged — as one of many initiatives to pursue. While the term “community school” may bring to mind a place, it’s better understood as an equity strategy, one that helps children in high-poverty schools keep up with peers in middle-class schools. Jeff Hawkes, LNP newspaper.
EXCHANGE-RADIO PREMIUM COLLECTION
HAZLETON — Anthony “Tony” Evangelista remembered sending for a souvenir from one of the radio programs he listened to in the 1940s. The ring from the “Tom Mix Ralston Straight Shooters” program set him back 10 cents and a label from Ralston instant farina. And within a few days — a wait that seemed like forever for the then 10-year-old — he received it. It was a ring, but not just any old ring. This was an official Tom Mix siren ring, and by blowing its whistle, listeners save the hero’s life. “Radio really incorporated the kids. It made you a part of what was going on so you couldn’t wait to get those packages at home,” said the Hazleton native. He eventually amassed hundreds of radio premiums that would be featured in the Smithsonian Institution, written about in The New York Times and shown on “Good Morning America.” Jill Whalen, The (Wilkes-Barre) Citizens’ Voice.
LOWER BURRELL — Barista Jacob Dunseath arrived at work Friday, took out his time card, clocked in and began getting ready for the day. He put on a blue apron with his name tag attached and started stocking a rolling coffee cart with coffee creamer. Friday was the maiden voyage of the HMS Treat Trolley at Charles A. Huston Middle School in Lower Burrell. That’s right, a middle school. Jacob, 12, is in Ashley Shields’ intensive learning support class, and the HMS Treat Trolley is a way to help Dunseath and his seven classmates expand their vocational skills. Madasyn Czebiniak, Tribune-Review.