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Contaminated drinking water spurs anger, questions

Plus: Festival ice cream, 'woodhick' skills, and Bellefonte's role in the Underground Railroad

June 30, 2022
Inside this edition: Contaminated drinking water near the University Park Airport, scream for free ice cream, "woodhick" skills, and how to see a human cannonball. Plus, our weekly word puzzle and your shot at some cool swag.
Chemical Concerns
Jelani Splawn / For Spotlight PA
Real quick: State officials waited more than two years to test wells after finding nearby contamination. Now, homeowners in Benner Township want answers, Spotlight PA State College contributor Adam Smeltz reports.

A bit more: A class of synthetic chemicals identified in 2019 near Penn State University’s airport has fouled tap water in an adjacent neighborhood, and families there are now demanding to know why it took environmental officials so long to test their wells, which they use for bathing, cooking, and drinking.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection began providing bottled water this year to at least nine households where well water registered above a longstanding federal health advisory threshold for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, known as “forever chemicals” for their inability to break down naturally.

But as the DEP investigation in Benner Township approaches its third anniversary, Walnut Grove Estates residents want to know why the state didn’t start checking their wells until December — and they worry what the contamination means for their health.

The full story: Read more here.
📝 More From Spotlight PA
» Statewide Pennsylvania police hiring database hindered by loopholes, lack of enforcement

PLUS: Join us Thursday, July 7 at 6 p.m. ET via Zoom for a free Q&A on the limitations of the state's police misconduct database and a discussion on other police accountability efforts. Register for the event here.

» How Pennsylvania keeps its voter rolls clean and updated

» Conflicting reports, gaps in data obscure true number of Pa. law enforcement agencies

» Decision to overturn Roe v. Wade won’t have an immediate impact in Pennsylvania but underscores the stakes of the governor's race

» INVESTIGATION: An obscure state law has snarled efforts to bring faster internet speeds to rural communities. Now it might complicate a historic infusion of federal funding. Also, how a fight over public records could threaten novel approach to broadband in rural Pennsylvania.
📷 Local Gem
A stunning woodland view from Sarah R.'s camping trip near Woodward, Centre County. Want to be featured here? Send your best local pics to
📰 In Other News
» 'We can't get tired': After abortion ruling, Centre County residents look to the future (Centre Daily Times )

» Take Note: Brad Groznik on a State College marketing campaign to bring Penn State graduates back (WPSU)

» 'We're still here.' Centre County continues to provide rental, utility assistance to households (Centre Daily Times)

» Penn State plans to sell campus hotels, retain ownership of land (

» Centre officials talk casino project (Lock Haven Express)

» Officials plan crackdown on fireworks (Altoona Mirror)
🍨 Fudge Fete
The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts returns to downtown State College and Penn State's University Park campus next week after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19.

In celebration, Penn State Berkey Creamery has created a commemorative ice cream flavor called Festival Fudge — a vanilla ice cream with chunks of fudge and a raspberry swirl.

On Friday, July 1, Arts Fest is hosting an ice cream social outside of Schlow Centre Region Library as part of Downtown State College's First Friday, and visitors can taste the new flavor for free. It starts at 5 p.m. and ends at 7 p.m.

"Since it's been two years since we've had a real live festival, we thought our audience might need a little practice enjoying Creamery ice cream," Arts Fest Executive Director Rick Bryant said in a news release.

Arts Fest is scheduled for July 13-17. In previous years, the dayslong event has drawn more than 100,000 visitors to central Pennsylvania.
📅 Events
Want us to list your event? Send it to us.

» June 30-July 3: Remington Ryde Bluegrass Festival returns to Grange Park in Centre Hall.

» July 1: Kick off the holiday weekend by checking out antiques, off-road vehicles, muscle cars, and more at the Weekend in the Wilds Car Show in Emporium.

» July 2: Learn about the life of the marsh on a trail walk at Canoe Creek State Park.

» July 2-3: Celebrate "woodhick" skills — like blacksmithing, chainsaw carving, and log rolling — at the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum's annual Bark Peelers' Festival.

» July 2-9: Weeklong Punxsutawney Festival in the Park features activities for the whole family, concerts, food vendors, a car show and more.

» July 3-9: Columbia Volunteer Fire Company hosts the 100th annual Fireman's Fair in Osceola Mills. The multiday event includes a car show, parade, and carnival.

» July 4: Live music, a human cannonball, and, of course, fireworks are the highlights of Central PA 4th Fest, held at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

» July 4: Celebrate the Fourth of July at Lakemont Park with fireworks, food trucks, a concert, and a hot dog eating contest.
🎨 Artist's Loft
A permanent exhibition, "Underground Railroad: A Journey to Freedom," at the Bellefonte Art Museum for Centre County is dedicated to sharing with the public the role the borough played in the Underground Railroad.

The third-floor exhibition "contains information about the operations of the Underground Railroad, artwork depicting the courage and suffering of the enslaved African Americans, and stories about the local citizens who helped and supported them," according to the museum's website.

» Follow a self-guided tour of locations tied to the Underground Railroad in Bellefonte. The first stop is the Linn House, which is home to the art museum.

Are you a local artist, musician, or poet? Send us your work for consideration to run in a future "Artist's Loft" section.
🧩 The Puzzler
An anagram is a word, phrase, or name formed by rearranging the letters of another. For example, "spotlight" also forms "stoplight."

Decode the anagram and send your answer to We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA State College swag.


Good luck!
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