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Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission Approves 16 New State Historical Markers

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Harrisburg, PA – African American sprinter, Barney Ewell, who won a gold and two silver medals in the 1948 Olympics; Ham Fisher, creator of the Joe Palooka comic strip; the Philadelphia Flower Show and the Slinky toy are among the subjects of the 16 new state historical markers approved by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC).

The new markers, selected from 51 applications, will be added to the nearly 2,300 familiar blue-with-gold-lettering signs along roads and streets throughout Pennsylvania.
Since 1946 PHMC’s historical markers have chronicled the people, places and events that have affected the lives of Pennsylvanians over the centuries. The signs feature subjects such as Native Americans and settlers, government and politics, athletes, entertainers, artists, struggles for freedom and equality, factories and businesses and a multitude of noteworthy topics.
Nominations for historical markers may be submitted by any individual or organization and are evaluated by a panel of independent experts from throughout the state and approved by the agency’s commissioners.
More information on the Historical Marker Program, including application information, is available online at
The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission is the official history agency of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Media Contact: Howard Pollman, 717-705-8639
The following is a list of the newly approved state historical markers with the name of the marker, location, and a brief description:
Barney Ewell (1918-1996)
Lancaster, Lancaster County
African American sprinter who won a gold and two silver medals at the 1948 Olympics. Although the 1940 and 1944 Olympics were cancelled because of WWII while Ewell was in his prime, he was able to maintain the highest level of performance at an international level to qualify for and medal at the 1948 Olympics. Member of the National Track and Field Hall of Fame.
Benjamin Lay (1682-1759)
Abington, Montgomery County

An early Quaker abolitionist, Lay wrote anti-slavery literature, boycotted products that used slave labor, demonstrated in the streets, and was vocal at Quaker meetings encouraging the

immediate abolition of slavery. Due to his activism, the Quakers became the first religious group to outlaw slaveholding by their members. He also influenced the broader abolitionist movement in the US and Great Britain.
D. T. Watson Home for Crippled Children
Leet Township, Allegheny County
Facility at which patients were first to receive the Salk polio vaccine. By the 1950s it was among the nation’s preeminent facilities that treated children with polio and provided physical rehabilitation. Medical Director Dr. Jessie Wright worked closely with Jonas Salk to develop a safe and effective polio vaccine.
Eddystone Rifle Plant
Eddystone, Delaware County
This 34-acre facility supplied nearly half of all infantry weapons issued to US forces during WWI, as well as over 600,000 rifles for the British army. It was the largest munitions plant in the US during WWI, employing 15,000 workers, 20% of them women.
Ham Fisher
Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County
Creator of the Joe Palooka comic strip that was syndicated nationwide for more than 50 years. Palooka was a prize fighting, clean living hero. The comic strip gained popularity during WWII, as the Palooka character enlisted in the Army. The strip served to encourage recruitment and to boost morale among American troops. It also served as a tool to sell war bonds and encouraged support of the war effort.
Isaac and Dinah Mendenhall (1806-1882), (1807-1889)
Chadds Ford, Chester County
Quaker abolitionists who were active with the Underground Railroad, collaborating with Thomas Garrett and Harriet Tubman. The Mendenhalls were charter members of the Longwood Progressive Meeting, which broke from the more traditional Old Kennett Meeting in 1853 due to their anti-slavery activism. The meeting hosted national abolitionist speakers such as Sojourner Truth and William Lloyd Garrison. Dinah was part of a delegation that met with President Lincoln to advocate for the abolition of slavery just 6 months before the Emancipation Proclamation was issued.
McAllister Family of Opticians
Beginning in 1799, John McAllister began selling spectacles at his shop in Philadelphia. He became a skilled optician and clients included presidents Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and Jackson, as well as other prominent individuals locally and throughout the country. John, Jr. was instrumental in advances in photography. John, Jr., and William McAllister worked and taught at the pioneering Wills Eye Institute. Five generations maintained this distinguished legacy through the mid-20th century.
John Philip Boehm (1683-1749)
Blue Bell, Montgomery County
Founder of the German Reformed Church in America, which developed into the modern day United Church of Christ. One of the most important aspects of his work was establishing governance for churches. He developed a church constitution 60 years prior to the US Constitution. He founded twelve churches and served at another eight as pastor.
Lois Weber (1879-1939)
Pittsburgh, Allegheny County
The first American woman film director and a pioneer in early film making. In the era of silent films, she mastered superimposition, double exposures, and split screens to convey thoughts and ideas rather than words on title cards. She also used the nude female figure in the 1915 film Hypocrites and took on progressive and provocative topics, inciting both censorship and artistic praise.
Oliver Pollock (1737-1823)
Mechanicsburg, Cumberland County
A successful merchant and major financier of the American Revolution, Pollock endured bankruptcy and imprisonment. He became agent of the Continental Congress in the Spanish territory of New Orleans and became a friend of Governor Bernardo Galvez, who sent supplies to the Continental Army. Pollock accompanied Galvez in raids against the British on the eastern border. He is credited with financing the 1778 Illinois expedition of George Rogers Clark as well as that of James Willing against Loyalists on the lower Mississippi.
Philadelphia Flower Show
The largest and longest running horticultural event in the nation, the Philadelphia Flower Show features displays by the world’s premier floral and landscape designers. Throughout its history this event has introduced many little-known species. At the inaugural show in 1829, the poinsettia was introduced to the American public. It has been honored multiple times as best in the world by the International Festivals and Events Association.
Richard Moore (1793-1875)
Quakertown, Bucks County
A Quaker abolitionist, active with the Underground Railroad. Moore’s home was a major station on the network. Moore claimed to have assisted more than 600 fugitive slaves in their escape, including William Parker who was involved in the Christiana Riot. Moore also helped a number of fugitives to find jobs and set up residence in Quakertown.
Ruth Plumly Thompson (1891-1976)
Author of 19 Wizard of Oz books, following the death of creator L. Frank Baum. Having earned a reputation as a talented author of children’s literature, Baum’s publisher solicited her to continue the official Oz series. She wrote one Oz book per year from 1921 through 1939, maintaining the series’ popularity through the release of the classic film.
Slinky Toy
Clifton Heights, Delaware County
Ubiquitous American toy invented by mechanical engineer Richard James in 1943. Following Mr. James’ religious conversion and nearly bankrupting the company in the early 1960s, his wife divorced him. He relocated to Bolivia and Betty James took over the business and turned it into a multi-million-dollar company with international distribution. She was inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Slinky was listed on the Toy Industry Association’s “Century of Toys” for the 20th century.
Sunset Park
Penn Twp., Chester County
Country and Bluegrass music venue that operated for over 50 years. Some of the biggest names in the business played here and it became one of the premier venues outside of Nashville. This venue helped to spread the popularity of this type of music nationwide. By the 1980s the mailing list included individuals in 48 states. Bluegrass icon Ola Belle Reed played here for over 20 years with the Sunset Park house band.
William J. McKnight, M.D.
Brookville, Jefferson County
Doctor, legislator and historian, McKnight introduced an Act in 1883 while senator that legalized human dissection, provided for unclaimed bodies to be distributed to medical schools for anatomical study, and made grave robbery illegal. The act served to advance the field of medicine and by extension, physical anthropology and forensic science. McKnight also authored several county histories and the History of Northwestern PA.

State Museum of Pennsylvania, Partners, Present Program on Lorraine Hansberry, Author of A Raisin in the Sun

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Harrisburg – The State Museum of Pennsylvania, in cooperation with WITF Public Media and The Film Posse, will present a special program on the new documentary film Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart on Tuesday, April 17, 2018, at 6 pm.

Harrisburg native Tracy Heather Strain, producer of the new documentary, will show excerpts from the film. Scott LaMar, host of WITF’s Smart Talk radio program, will interview Strain on stage and discuss the film.
The event is free and open to the public. Reservations are required and can be made online at or by calling Janee Corbin at The State Museum, 717-783-5736. Seating is limited.
Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart, which launched the 2018 season of the PBS series American Masters in January, explores the fascinating life of the first-ever black woman to author a play performed on Broadway, A Raisin in the Sun. Although the play is considered a groundbreaking work of art, the timely story of Hansberry’s life is far less known.
The documentary portrays Hansberry’s lifetime commitment to fighting injustice and how she found her way to the theater as a medium for activism at a crucial time for black civil rights. The film also explores the writer’s concealed identity as a lesbian and the themes of sexual orientation and societal norms in her works. The film title comes from Hansberry’s view that “one cannot live with sighted eyes and feeling heart and not know or react to the miseries which afflict this world.”
Filmmaker and Peabody Award–winner Tracy Heather Strain grew up in Harrisburg and was inspired as a teenager to explore Hansberry’s story when her grandmother took her to a local performance of a play about the writer. Strain has produced several documentaries (Unnatural Causes, I’ll Make Me a World, and American Experience: Building the Alaska Highway, among others) for national public television. She and her husband, filmmaker Randall MacLowry, founded The Film Posse, a documentary production company based in Boston.
Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart is a production of the Lorraine Hansberry Documentary Project, LLC, in coproduction with the Independent Television Service and Black Public Media, in association with The Film Posse, Chiz Schultz Inc., and American Masters Pictures.

The State Museum of Pennsylvania, adjacent to the State Capitol in Harrisburg, is one of 24 historic sites and museums administered by the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission as part of the Pennsylvania Trails of History. The State Museum offers expansive collections interpreting Pennsylvania’s fascinating heritage. With exhibits examining the dawn of geologic time, the Native American experience, the colonial and revolutionary eras, a pivotal Civil War battleground, and the commonwealth’s vast industrial age, The State Museum demonstrates that Pennsylvania’s story is America’s story.

For more information about the museum, visit

Wolf Administration Meets with Leaders at Caron Treatment Centers Amidst Rise in Addiction Among Older Adults

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Wernersville, PA – Pennsylvania Department of Aging Secretary Teresa Osborne visited with leadership at  Caron Treatment Centers today to learn more about its approach to treating addiction and to discuss Governor Tom Wolf’s statewide opioid disaster declaration.

Caron, a not-for-profit provider of addiction and behavioral healthcare treatment with 60 years in the field, provides each patient with a multidisciplinary treatment team of professionals, and incorporates the patient’s family into the treatment process to ensure that a customized treatment plan is well-tailored to their needs. The older adult program provides a full range of psychological, psychiatric, and medical services in a compassionate way that supports each individual’s transformation to a healthy and productive life.

“Substance use disorder and addiction is a growing problem for seniors whose unique circumstances require specialized treatment,” said Secretary Osborne. “The Wolf Administration’s efforts to support lifelong recovery for all Pennsylvanians facing the disease of addiction is reflected in Caron’s approach to provide age-specific treatment options that ensure that older adults can access the care they need with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

Addiction in older adults is one of America’s fastest growing health issues. Today, 2.5 million older adults have an alcohol or drug problem. Widowers over the age of 75 have the highest rate of alcoholism in the U.S., and older adults are hospitalized as often for alcohol-related problems as they are for heart attacks.  Nevertheless, addiction in older adults can be difficult to detect, as warning signs mimic insomnia, forgetfulness and other common age-related health issues.

“Today’s older adults typically have more complex needs that require a fully integrated approach to treatment – which includes addressing co-occurring behavioral and medical problems and issues such as grief and loss,” said Dr. Joseph Garbely, Vice President of Medical Services and Medical Director at Caron. “It’s critical that they receive ethical, quality treatment in a setting that addresses every facet of their lives to ensure the best possible outcomes.”

To learn more about the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, visit To learn more about Caron Treatment Centers, visit


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​Harrisburg, PA – Construction for the North Farmersville Road (State Route 1025) bridge, spanning the Conestoga River in West Earl Township, Lancaster County, is scheduled to begin during the week of April 16 as part of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT) Rapid Bridge Replacement Project. Replacement of this bridge will allow PennDOT to remove it from Lancaster County’s structurally deficient bridge list.

During construction, drivers will be directed to follow a detour along Main Street (Route 23), Route 772 (Glenbrook Road/State Street), Route 272 (Oregon Pike), Old Akron Road (SR 1041), and Tobacco Road/Diamond Station Road (SR 1022). Construction should be complete in late June.

In the event of unfavorable weather or unforeseen activities, this schedule may change.

This bridge is referred to as JV-265 and is one out of the 558 bridges being replaced under the Rapid Bridge Replacement Project. JV references the joint-venture partnership between Walsh/Granite, which is leading construction for the entire project.

The Rapid Bridge Replacement Project is a public-private partnership (P3) between PennDOT and Plenary Walsh Keystone Partners (PWKP), under which PWKP will finance, design, replace, and maintain the bridges for 25 years. The P3 approach will allow PennDOT to replace the bridges more quickly while achieving significant savings and minimizing impact on motorists.

Department of State Invites Bids on New Paper Record Voting Systems

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Harrisburg, PA — The Department of State today will take the next step toward modernizing Pennsylvania’s elections by issuing an Invitation for Bid (IFB) to voting system firms.

“This IFB marks the beginning of the commonwealth’s transition to state-of-the-art voting equipment,” Acting Secretary Robert Torres said. “The new requirements will ensure that our voting systems will provide enhanced standards of resiliency, auditability, and security for Pennsylvania citizens.”
The IFB includes requirements for increased documentation, security and reporting capabilities. It follows a February directive the department sent to counties that all voting systems purchased from Feb. 9 forward must employ a voter-verifiable paper ballot or voter-verifiable paper record of votes cast by the voter. It also reinforces enhanced standards for security, including physical security, confidentiality, data encryption, audit logging, and reporting.
The IFB updates an existing state-negotiated agreement with vendors and can be used by counties to purchase voter-verifiable voting systems that meet the department’s requirements for certification.
Douglas Hill, executive director of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, welcomed the move.
“Today’s announcement gives counties guidance they need as they prepare to replace voting equipment,” Hill said. “The work by the Department of State to accelerate certification of equipment means that counties will have available to them the latest technology that satisfies accessibility and security concerns and better enables participation by our voters.”
The department is notifying vendors that they should not plan to renew contracts in 2019. Instead, they should move to the updated agreement if they are interested in providing voting systems in Pennsylvania. Any voting system purchased from this date forward must meet the requirements of the IFB.
Counties will continue receiving maintenance and training under existing contracts until they procure new voting equipment.

New Medicare Cards Guard Against Identity Theft

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By: Andrea Sears

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Medicare is sending out new identification cards that no longer display enrollees’ Social Security numbers. Pennsylvania residents will be among the first to receive the new cards that assign each person a randomly generated eleven-digit number.

Joanne Grossi, president of AARP Pennsylvania, points out that Social Security numbers are the keys for access to personal financial records, medical information and legal documents. So if a card with a Social Security number on it was ever lost or stolen, the enrollee could easily fall victim to identity theft.

“Every time you’re giving over that personal Social Security number, it’s an opportunity for either an individual or a hacker to use it for opening credit cards or getting a loan,” she warns.

She says once the new card arrives, the old card should be destroyed. But if you’re on a Medicare Advantage or Part D prescription plan, those are separate so be sure to keep those cards.

Pennsylvania Medicare enrollees should receive their new cards by June 30. Grossi adds that it won’t be necessary to memorize the new identification number.

“One of the benefits of this new card is if you leave it at home, you’ve forgotten it, the doctor’s staff is going to be able to look up your new Medicare number on a secure computer site,” she explains.

The new numbers are linked to existing Medicare accounts, so all your current information will still be available to your doctor.

Finally, it’s important to know that the new cards will be mailed out automatically. Grossi cautions everyone to be on guard against scams that may try to get personal information.

“Medicare will never call you,” she adds. “So if anyone phones you claiming to need additional information from you in order to get your new Medicare card, this is a scam and they are attempting to commit fraud.”

Nationally, the transition to the new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier numbers should be complete by April of next year.

Interfaith Protesters Call for Investment in PA Solar Jobs

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By: Andrea Sears

PHILADELPHIA, – Interfaith protests and arrests marked the week before Easter as clergy and congregants demanded investment in a clean-energy grid for Philadelphia’s low-income communities.

Twenty-five people with the Power Local Green Jobs campaign were arrested for acts of peaceful civil disobedience over three days this week as they demanded more investment in local solar energy.

Greg Holt, communications manager for the Earth Quaker Action Team, points out that PECO, the Philadelphia Electric Company, gets almost two-thirds of its power from fossil fuels in a city where dirty air contributes to high rates of asthma and other respiratory diseases.

“Solar is an opportunity that can bring a lot of jobs and other economic benefits, and health and life benefits, to residents,” says Holt, “and PECO needs to lead the way.”

The demonstrators want the company to aim for getting 20 percent of its energy from solar by 2025. PECO says it agrees with the goals of the campaign, but questions the timeline.

PECO did give a grant for solar jobs training in North Philadelphia last year. But Holt notes that the company is still only getting one-half of one percent of its power from solar, the state-mandated minimum.

“When one in four families are experiencing deep poverty in Philadelphia, that’s not a time to wait,” says Holt. “That’s a time when action is needed, when vision is needed, and investment.”

The campaign organized the three demonstrations this week under the title “We Won’t Wait.”

While the protests are over for now, Holt says they will return, putting their bodies on the line for clean energy and economic opportunity.

“The company’s dirty energy business won’t go unchallenged,” says Holt. “And we will stand in the way until it’s changed direction and commits to a future for green jobs and for justice in our communities.”

Environmental Groups Sue to Close EPA Loophole

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By: Andrea Sears

Harrisburg, Pa. – Clean-air advocates want the federal courts to stop a new rule that would allow major polluters to turn their pollution controls off.

Since 1990, the Clean Air Act has required major sources of pollution to reduce their emissions by the maximum amount possible.

But, according to Tomas Carbonell, director of regulatory policy and lead attorney with the Environmental Defense Fund, a new rule issued in January, with no opportunity for public comment, allows those major polluters to reclassify themselves as smaller sources.

“In doing so, they avoid complying with the most protective emission standards that EPA has issued to reduce emissions of pollutants like Mercury, benzene, arsenic and other dangerous compounds,” he says.

The EPA claims the rule is required by its new interpretation of the Clean Air Act. But environmentalists say Congress intended tighter emission controls to be permanent.

Carbonell says under this new interpretation of the Clean Air Act, once polluters achieved required emission reductions, they may be subject to weaker standards or none at all.

“Simply by virtue of complying with these standards, under this new loophole these major sources can avoid those standards entirely and actually increase their emissions up to the point where they would become major sources again,” he explains.

The Environmental Integrity Project estimates the loophole will allow a dozen large industrial facilities they studied to more than quadruple their emissions of toxic pollutants.

Carbonell points out that eleven years ago the EPA proposed a similar interpretation of the Clean Air Act, and EPA’s own staff and regional offices submitted comments raising concerns about the change.

“They raised the same concerns that we’re raising now about the potential for this policy change to lead to significant emission increases at major industrial facilities across the country,” he adds.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in the Federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Effective Signal Coverage Requires Local Underwriters

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Comment Period on Delaware Watershed Fracking Regulations Ending

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The Delaware River watershed provides drinking water to 17 million people. (Perkons/Pixabay)

The Delaware River watershed provides drinking water to 17 million people. (Perkons/Pixabay)


HARRISBURG, Pa. – The period for submitting written comments on the Delaware River Basin Commission’s draft natural-gas drilling regulations ends Friday.

Environmental groups are enthusiastically supporting the commission’s proposal to ban all high-volume hydraulic fracturing in shale within the boundaries of the Delaware River watershed. But according to Maya K. van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, they are adamantly opposed to draft regulations that would let gas and oil companies withdraw millions of gallons of Delaware watershed water for fracking in other locations, and allow the treatment, storage and disposal of fracking wastewater within the watershed.

“Fracking wastewater is so toxic that even the industry barely knows what to do with it. For the most part, they either re-frack or they send it off to places where they try to inject it into the ground to try to hide it away,” she says.

The Commission says the new rule actually would tighten restrictions on bringing fracking waste into the watershed. Help in filing written comments is available through the Delaware Riverkeeper website.

Van Rossum points out that even the Commission’s material supporting the proposals clearly says all aspects of fracking are dangerous, so allowing any waste to come into the watershed, or water for fracking to be removed, makes no sense.

“It would allow our watershed to be used to induce and support drilling and fracking in other watersheds,” she says, “wreaking the horrible havoc on communities and on the environment that’s happening there.”

In 2010, the Delaware River Basin Commissioners voted to delay any decisions on gas drilling in the Basin until new regulations were adopted.

Van Rossum says that constituted a moratorium on all fracking activity in the watershed that has been in effect ever since.

“We want the moratorium that we have in place today to be turned into a complete ban, which means a complete ban on all aspects of the industry,” she says.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service – PA