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PA broadband agency reverses course on telecom law

Plus, PA outdoor office wants more trails, diversity.

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Monday, January 22, 2024
Broadband plan, police presence, derailment anniversary, sick days, boxed away, climate trial, pro-humanities, and endangered taters. It’s Monday.
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A state agency reversed its position on whether a Pennsylvania law could cause problems for a huge infusion of federal money aimed at expanding access to high-speed internet. 

The Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority's first draft for its plan to administer $1 billion in federal funding said it would waive a state law that restricts when local governments can build their own internet networks. But the latest draft, sent last year to the federal government, declared there was no conflict between that law and a federal one.

The reversal stems from public comments the agency received from state lawmakers, local governments, and groups from the telecom industry.

Read Spotlight PA's full report: Pa.’s broadband authority reverses position on key state law before new federal funding arrives


“We, as minorities, get promised so many things. But once they get elected, they forget about us. I just want some change.”

Kensington resident Mayli Gaita on the Parker administration assigning new police resources to her neighborhood, which has an open-air drug market. 
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RICHEST LITTLE CITY: Join us Thursday 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 events@spotlightpa.org

Middle Creek, Snyder County, via Sally B. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

bare trees surrounding a creek with snow on the ground
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.OUTDOORS OUTLOOK: Pennsylvania’s new recreation office unveiled its strategic goals for this year in a report released Friday. There is no set timeline for the agency’s various initiatives, Spotlight PA reports, but the office’s director said building an alliance of businesses in the outdoor industry is a main focus. Other goals include creating more trails and improving accessibility. 

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.DROPPED BOX: GOP officials, citing voter integrity, have eliminated a heavily used Lebanon County mail-ballot drop box ahead of this year's elections, Lebanon Daily News reports. The county will also be purchasing 125 electronic poll books for $231,500.
Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.MENTAL HEALTH DAYS: Pennsylvania students would be allowed to take up to three excused mental health days off each year without a doctor’s note under a bill moving in the Democratic-led state House, PennLive reports. A similar bill stalled last session. 
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.ONE YEAR LATER: Next month will mark one year since a fiery, toxic train crash near the Pennsylvania-Ohio border. WESA followed up on the cleanup efforts as well as Norfolk Southern's promises made, promises kept, and what the company is doing next.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.TREE OF LIFE: The man sentenced to death for killing 11 people at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life synagogue wants a new trial, claiming improper jury instructions and misapplied hate crimes charges, TribLIVE reports. Demolition work at the synagogue started last week.
🏆 FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONS: Test your knowledge of the news with the latest Great PA News Quiz: Great PA News Quiz: Fetterman memoir, seriously cold, Bidenomics, and underfunded schools.
ON TRIAL: Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann is suing two right-wing writers, arguing attacks on his work amount to defamation, per The Guardian. The trial started last week and is set to last into February.

LEANING IN: Lycoming College in Williamsport is leaning into humanities programs as other colleges back away. Inside Higher Ed reports the school wants to set "itself apart in a tough enrollment environment."

TURKEY TALK: Everyone dreams of becoming a "turkey reporter" one day. WHTM says now's your chance. Get started on your new beat here.

POTATO PROBLEM: New potato-threatening pathogens have been reported for the first time in Pennsylvania, Penn State researchers found.

SNL SUCCESSION: Saturday Night Live's Lorne Michaels confirms Upper Darby native Tina Fey could succeed him as executive producer
Are you a Berks County resident? We're seeking community input! Join one of our upcoming Spotlight PA - Berks County listening sessions:

Tomorrow: 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Fleetwood Public Library | Register Here

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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 scrambler@spotlightpa.org. 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.

Friday's answer: Debatable

Congrats to our weekly winner: Karyl S.

Congrats to our daily winners: Nia S., Don H., Jodi R., Daniel M., Dan A., Jody A., James B., Lynne E., Doris M., Georgeann J., Stanley J., Carol S., Pam M., Margaret K., Jon W., Connie K., Kim C., Kevin M., Tracy S., Bruce B., Alice S., Judith D., David W., Keith L., Elaine C., Leslie B., Mark C., Steve H., Alan B., Wendy A., Starr B., Tish M., Amelia M., Mike B., Kimberly B., Anthony W., Eddy Z., Jeffrey F., Rena Z., Chuck M., Tom M., Kimberly D., David T., Ada M., Robert D., William Z., David W., Carol S., and John P. 
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