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|Today: 911 hike, Biden visits, PA-10 forum, Cutler's challenge, cannabis classification, UPMC merger watch, and a Poconos prediction.
An increase to the monthly phone fee users pay to support emergency services will help fill staff vacancies and upgrade infrastructure.
Approved in December as part of the state budget, the increase to $1.95 takes effect in March, helping fund staffing and infrastructure upgrades at 911 call centers statewide.
Despite the increase, elected county officials who wanted a boost to $2.30 are disappointed, saying the rate — which landline and cellphone users pay as part of their monthly bill — still isn’t enough.
Without more funding from the 911 phone fee, the remaining cost of maintaining emergency services will likely fall on property owners.
Read Spotlight PA's full report: Officials say lawmakers’ increase to the 911 phone fee isn’t enough to alleviate taxpayer burden.
|NOTABLE / QUOTABLE
"Even before the primary I was like, ‘I’m not a progressive.’ It’s just strange why people want to ignore that. It’s not new news."
—U.S. Sen. John Fetterman (D., Pa.) addressing critics who say he's abandoned progressive ideals on Gaza, immigration, and more
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|GRADING SHAPIRO: Join us at 6 p.m. Thursday to grade Gov. Josh Shapiro’s first year in office with our expert reporters and one of the state’s top pollsters. This is an exclusive event for Spotlight PA members, but you can join by making a tax-deductible gift of any amount now. We’ll send you a special RSVP link once we receive your gift.
RICHEST LITTLE CITY: Join us Thursday, Jan. 25 from 6-7:15 p.m. on Zoom for a free panel on the corruption case rocking this small Pennsylvania city and how local government can protect against wrongdoing. Register for the event here and submit your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A divided sky over Pittsburgh after last week's heavy rains, via Theresa C. Have a Pennsylvania photo to share? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
|MOST WANTED: New clues in the D.B. Cooper skyjacking case — one of America's most enduring mysteries — point toward Pennsylvania, Popular Mechanics reports. One private eye is looking at Pittsburgh.
THIRD BIRD: Pennsylvania’s Third Bird Atlas needs you. The five-year project is looking for a few good volunteers to document breeding and wintering species statewide, Erie Times-News reports, via Yahoo.
DRONE ON: State Sen. Jarrett Coleman (R., Lehigh) says a Lancaster County sting operation convinced him it's time to change a policy that bars hunters here from using drones to track wounded deer, via PennLive.
SMALL TOWNS: A state legislative agency says the population of the Poconos could drop 24% by 2050, as deaths outpace births, The Inquirer (paywall) reports. Some local officials are skeptical.
LAKE EFFECT: Erie's fragmented football fanbase faced a bit of a dilemma during this past weekend's NFL playoff games, per the Buffalo News: Bills or Steelers? Or Browns? In Erie, Pa., it's complicated.
Are you a Berks County resident? We're seeking community input! Join one of our upcoming Spotlight PA - Berks County listening sessions:
Jan. 23: 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Fleetwood Public Library | Register Here
A listening session is an informal, small-group discussion in which we are seeking your thoughts, opinions, and concerns on local news coverage, information access, community information needs, and news consumption habits. Visit spotlightpa.org/berks for more information.
Unscramble and send your answer to email@example.com
. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag. Answers submitted by 5:30 p.m. on issue date will be counted
R M N C N D U U O
Friday's answer: Retrograde
Congrats to our weekly winner: Gail D.
Congrats to our daily winners: Stacy S., Vicki U., Eric F., Jody A., Don H., Tracy S., Bob C., Lynne E., Mike B., Judith D., Barbara F., Julie K., Richard A., Jon W., Carol S., Elaine C., Susan N.-Z., Mark C., Ted W., Rick W., Kim C., Marty M., Cosette J., Starr B., Daniel S., Daniel M., Alan B., Marie B., Kevin M., William Z., Adara C., Steve H., Kimberly D., Craig E., Tom M., Sharon B., Wendy A., Dan A., Stanley J., Tish M., David T., David W., Kim B., and John P.