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Can Pa. make its public lands more accessible?

Plus: Judge dismisses Osagie-related lawsuit against State College, police

This is Talk of the Town, a free weekly newsletter delivering top news from State College and the surrounding region.

November 30, 2023
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Inside this edition: Making Pennsylvania’s public lands more accessible, Pa. budget impasse hurting libraries and community colleges, and a federal judge dismisses Osagie family lawsuit against State College and its police department.
Georgianna Sutherland / For Spotlight PA

Real quick: Pennsylvania agencies overseeing outdoor recreation have made headway in expanding access to public lands, but not everyone feels safe or welcome at parks and forests, Spotlight PA’s Marley Parish reports.

A little more: Anthony David Jr. wasn’t comfortable exploring state parks and forests while attending college in Harrisburg.

As a Black man, David worried about accidentally walking onto private property while on a hike, an activity he grew up in Washington, D.C., thinking was a “white person thing,” he told Spotlight PA.

“We never got that opportunity to pass hiking down through generations because we’ve been living in so many centuries of terror and lynchings,” he said.

But after serving on the state’s Environmental Justice Advisory Board, which helped update a statewide policy to guide environmental decisions, David learned more about conservation, environmental improvements, and the value of spending time outdoors. He graduated in 2023 and moved back to the nation’s capital, where he now feels comfortable outdoors and advocates for environmental issues, including recreation. If he were to return to Pennsylvania, he said, he would explore state trails and bring more people with him to share the experience.

His story demonstrates why the commonwealth is investing millions in projects and advisory boards to ensure all Pennsylvanians enjoy the state’s more than 3 million acres of public lands and numerous outdoor recreation opportunities.

Commonwealth agencies that handle outdoor recreation and their local partners have taken steps to expand the use of these spaces by connecting kids with the outdoors, improving accessibility, and challenging assumptions that certain activities are exclusive to white people.

Still, more work is needed to ensure everyone who wants to can visit and feel safe using public lands.

The full story: Read more here.

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Something special is happening here in our region and across Pennsylvania.

Hundreds of people are stepping up to support Spotlight PA's unique investigative and public-service journalism as part of #GivingTuesday week. If you're reading this and you haven't yet done your part, it's not too late!

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🤔 Can’t attend your local town meetings but want to keep tabs on what’s happening? Sign up for the new Centre Documenters newsletter. 

Centre Documenters recruits, trains, and pays local citizen Documenters to attend and document government meetings in six undercovered townships across Centre County — Benner, College, Gregg, Halfmoon, Snow Shoe, and Spring.

This initiative keeps taxpayers like you informed about your elected leaders and their decisions.

Centre Documenters is a partnership between News Lab at Penn State and Spotlight PA.
» Pa. legislature paid $280K to settle harassment, other claims while requiring secrecy in many cases

» Opioid settlement money is supposed to expand syringe services. Pa.’s drug laws stand in the way.

» How the ongoing Pa. budget impasse is hurting community colleges, libraries

» These Pa. birds will be renamed as watchers reckon with racism, inclusion
Sunrise over the Susquehanna River in Williamsport, Lycoming County, photographed by @gretchens_naturepics.

Want to be featured here? Send your best local pics to talkofthetown@spotlightpa.org.
» CDT: Judge dismisses Osagie lawsuit against State College, police
» PennLive: Franklin gets state police escort, but it’s not about protection

» Era: Former Elk Co. DA cleared of ‘rule violations’ by disciplinary board
» Mirror: NAACP questions Our Town fund, Blair DA
» WPSU: State College expands short-term rental permit requirements
» CDT: PennDOT can move to bar Glenn O. Hawbaker from state work
» Courier Express: Elk Co. supports local agriculture with new no-till drill
Support Spotlight PA's independent, nonpartisan journalism and for a limited time, your gift will be DOUBLED.
Want us to list your event? Send it to us.

» Dec. 1: Glow Up Altoona in Blair County features craft and food vendors, a petting zoo, tree lighting, fireworks, and more.

» Dec. 2: Celebrate the holiday season with the Spirit of Christmas Parade in Altoona, Blair County.

» Dec. 2: Make your own wreath, browse crafts, and enjoy refreshments at Rhoneymeade, in Centre County.

» Dec. 2: Step back in time at Wellsboro’s 39th annual Dickens of a Christmas event in Tioga County.

» Dec. 3: Make a donation to Centre County nonprofits during the Alternative Christmas Fair.

» Dec. 4: The Penn State School of Music presents its annual showcase, Mosaic, at Eisenhower Auditorium in Centre County.
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 talkofthetown@spotlightpa.org. We’ll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA State College swag.

Good luck!

Last week’s answer: Kitchen

Congrats to Jeff B., who will receive Spotlight PA State College swag. Others who answered correctly: Kevin M., Don H., Ada M., Frederick H., and Leslie B.
Do you have events, community shoutouts, questions about our region, or tips on stories that we should pursue? Email our team.
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