Keystone Crossroads

Historic PA Law To Automatically Seal Millions Of Criminal Charges Starting Friday

Jun 27, 2019
Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

Forty million.

That’s the number of criminal charges in Pennsylvania that will be eligible for automatic sealing when the second phase of the state’s Clean Slate law kicks in Friday. 

1 In 3 Pennsylvania Households Struggle To Make Ends Meet, According To New Report

Jun 18, 2019
Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

Roughly one in three Pennsylvania households struggle to afford life’s basic necessities, according to a report released Tuesday by the United Way.

Matt Smith / for Keystone Crossroads

Even today, nearly 20 years after Bethlehem Steel declared bankruptcy, and decades after it began its slow decline, there’s no consensus why exactly the iconic company tanked.

Eastern Pennsylvania's Population Growth Bypasses Western PA

Apr 23, 2019
Carolyn Kaster / AP

The latest population estimates for the Keystone State, unveiled by the Census Bureau this week, show that Pennsylvania is growing — but not much, and not everywhere.

While the commonwealth added about 16,200 residents, it’s a slim increase for a state that now holds some 12.8 million residents and the growth was highly uneven.

Welcome To Turkeyfoot, PA — Home Of The State's Lowest Paid Teachers

Apr 22, 2019
Dani Fresh / Keystone Crossroads

Visit Somerset County in mid-March and you’ll hear it everywhere — you’ve got to see it in the summer.

A new bill in the state House would require every school district in Pennsylvania to test for radon and inform parents of the results.

Still Reeling From 2018 Rainfall, PA Farmers Offered Emergency USDA Loan

Apr 15, 2019
Min Xian / Keystone Crossroads

Pennsylvania had one of the wettest summers on record last year. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, July 2018 was the rainiest July in the past 124 years. 

'Invisible' Victims: Survivors Of Sexual Abuse By Nuns Demand To Be Counted

Apr 12, 2019
(Courtesy of Patricia Cahill)

When Patricia Cahill was 15, a nun who taught at a nearby Catholic high school invited her to perform at a hootenanny mass.

Rick Bowmer / AP

As a nationwide ban took effect this week, gun owners must immediately destroy or turn over their bump stocks after President Trump pushed the Justice Department to classify the controversial gun add-on as a type of illegal machine gun.

Min Xian / Keystone Crossroads

Kathy Wells started her career early. She didn’t get a chance to go to college after graduating from high school in rural, Northwestern Pennsylvania.

In her words, she grew up in a “large family, small area.”  

“Basically, you work,” Wells laughed. “You don’t go to school.”

'Hyperloop' Cargo From Philly To Pittsburgh? Officials Say It's Not That Far-Fetched

Mar 18, 2019
Kristoffer Tripplaar/Sipa USA via AP Images

Commercial goods packed in giant capsules and moving in vacuum-sealed steel tubes at nearly supersonic speeds from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh?

Cash For The Poor? General Assistance Welfare Again Under Threat In PA

Mar 8, 2019
Kimberly Paynter / AP

For the first time in decades, John Boyd feels hopeful about the future.

The Death Of Cyber Charter Schools In Pennsylvania?

Feb 15, 2019
Pat Wellenbach / AP

A proposal with potentially dire consequences for Pennsylvania’s cyber charter schools re-emerged in Harrisburg this session.

Elaine Thompson / AP

A group representing rural Pennsylvanians says expanding high speed broadband internet access in the state needs to be a priority this year, but acknowledges funding for infrastructure upgrades continues to be a challenge.

Marc Levy / AP

Nearly a decade after being tasked with the assignment, a state commission is still grappling with a mandate to create a risk assessment algorithm for Pennsylvania judges to use during criminal sentencing procedures.

More Than Half Of PA Public Schools Do Not Have A Teacher Of Color

Nov 1, 2018
Emma Lee / WHYY

More than 60 years after the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling, an analysis of state data shows persistently stark disparities between the racial composition of teachers and students in Pennsylvania’s schools — among the widest gaps in the country.

Abby Drew/Centre Daily Times via AP and Loubarletta.com

Around Luzerne County, a former hotbed of coal mining, most signs don’t say “Barletta for U.S. Senate.”

They say “Lou for Senate” or “Lou Digs Coal.”

Philly Program Teaches Defendants How To Help Themselves

Oct 5, 2018
Bastiaan Slabbers / Keystone Crossroads

 It was an early autumn afternoon in 1975 -- a moment that Steve Austin wishes he could take back.

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

How much does your county spend on public defense?

Min Xian / Keystone Crossroads

Growing up, Michael Fiore didn’t worry about drugs or the violence in Blair County. Back then, he says the area, home to Altoona and Hollidaysburg, was safe.

An-Li Herring / Keystone Crossroads

On a humid summer day, Shawnray Byrd works a new job renovating a home just outside Pittsburgh. During a break, he says he’s grateful to be employed and free.

Emma Lee / WHYY

If you hunt hard enough around Harrisburg, it is possible to find lawmakers who are on board with allocating state money for the public defense of the poor.

Wrongful Murder Conviction Points To Problems With Public Defense In PA

Oct 3, 2018
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

Crystal Weimer’s nightmare began in 2004, when she was arrested for a crime she didn’t commit.

“When you go to jail, your whole family goes to jail,” Weimer said. “It’s just like a ripple effect — it’s just not you.”

She was charged with the murder of Curtis Haith, a 21-year-old who dreamed of becoming a chef.  Haith was shot in the face and beaten to death in front of his home in Fayette County, about 50 miles south of Pittsburgh.

Min Xian / Keystone Crossroads

Following the grand jury report on the alleged widespread clergy abuse in Pennsylvania’s Catholic Church, state lawmakers are pushing for reforms. 

Emma Lee / WHYY

Andrew Brooking’s future at Philadelphia’s Blaine Elementary seemed uncertain.

After four years teaching there, he was vying to become an assistant principal at the end of last school year, and figured that would mean an assignment elsewhere in the city.

But a conversation with a parent from the school’s Strawberry Mansion neighborhood — one home to deep poverty and violent crime — helped him understand why he needed to stay.

Greg Roth / Penn State University

Last month, Pennsylvania saw the most recorded rainfall in a July. For many farmers in the state, the intense precipitation is part of a pattern of weather changes they are trying to adapt to.

A new report out of Penn State University says corn production in the Southeastern part of the state could be especially vulnerable in the coming decades.

Housing Boom In State College Spurs Debate Over Changing Character Of The Town

Aug 2, 2018
Keystone Crossroads

Ron Madrid stood in his front yard a few blocks from downtown State College, motioning to the houses and apartments in the neighborhood, comparing the homeowners and the renters.

“When people take care of their property because they own it, that’s much different than if you’re just renting,” Madrid said. “Walk down the street, and you can say: rental, rental, somebody lives there, owner-occupied, rental.”

Keith Srakocic / AP

Mike McGrenehan thought he was headed for a life in the suburbs.

Growing up in Northeast Philadelphia, not far from the city limits, McGrenehan always figured he’d marry, have kids, and ship off to the open spaces of suburbia. The “McMansion push,” he called it.

He moved to Montgomery County when he and his wife first married, but it never quite felt like home.

“When we left, we were out on an island,” he said.

After a few years, they moved back to Northeast Philly, had three kids, but reached another turning point when their oldest turned five.

Gov. Wolf Calls For Drastic School Funding Shake-Up In Surprise Announcement

Jul 2, 2018
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Governor Tom Wolf called for a major change to the way Pennsylvania funds schools Friday, advocating for the state to distribute its largest pot of school money in a way that would benefit the majority of students in the state, but would likely cause deep cuts in many districts.

During questions at a press conference in Philadelphia, Wolf said the state should push all basic education money through the formula it adopted two years ago.

PA’s Population Increase In 2017 Was The Most Dramatic In 5 Years

Jun 1, 2018
Pennsylvania State Data Center

Pennsylvania’s population is on the rise again, after declining in 2016 — but growth remains concentrated in certain spots, and most communities keep losing residents.

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