Skip to main content
Main content

Our favorite stories of 2022

Plus: Events to ring in the new year across north-central PA


There are only 3 DAYS LEFT in our vital end-of-year member drive and we need your support right now to ensure our work can continue strong into 2023. If you've been waiting on the sidelines, or judging our work for yourself, I hope you make today the day to show your support.

As a special bonus this final week of December, all gifts will be TRIPLED thanks to generous matching gifts from the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, Snider Foundation, and two local Spotlight PA donors. 

We're here for you all year long, but today, we need your help. Make a tax-deductible gift now before it's too late. If you'd like to give by check, send it to: Spotlight PA, 228 Walnut St., #11728, Harrisburg, PA 17108.

You can also give via PayPal using this link.

Thank you!

—Sarah Rafacz, Spotlight PA State College editor
This is Talk of the Town, a free weekly newsletter delivering top news from State College and the surrounding region.

December 29, 2022
💕 Love Talk of the Town? Share it with your friends! Help us reach our goal of 2,000 subscribers by Dec. 31 ⭐ Did a friend forward this email to you? Click here to sign up.
Inside this edition: Our favorite Spotlight PA State College stories of 2022, and new year celebrations. As the year comes to an end, we are so grateful for your readership and support of our bureau. We can't do this work without you. Happy new year!

In its first six months, Spotlight PA’s State College regional bureau has produced important public-service journalism for north-central Pennsylvania. 

From accountability coverage about Penn State to a five-month investigation of the borough that hired the cop who killed Tamir Rice, the bureau’s small but energetic team is making its mark on the region and state.

As the year comes to an end, we wanted to share a few of our most impactful stories of 2022.

» Your support makes important public-service reporting like this possible. Help us continue it in 2023 by making a tax-deductible gift to Spotlight PA now. As a special bonus, all contributions will be TRIPLED.

Broken Borough

In early July, Tioga — a tiny borough in northern Pennsylvania — swore in Tamir Rice’s killer as its new, and only, police officer. Outrage followed, and the officer withdrew his application within days. The hire made national headlines and drew consternation from Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who in January will be the state’s new governor.

But when the news cycle quickly moved on, Local Accountability Reporter Min Xian dug deep. Her five-month investigation revealed that Tioga was already mired by infighting, personal vendettas, and tribalism among its elected officials when the hire brought local government to a screeching halt.

Sarah Rafacz, State College Editor

Penn State’s New President

As Neeli Bendapudi took over as Penn State’s president this spring, Spotlight PA spent months digging into her previous role as president of the University of Louisville. During her time in Kentucky, she made tough financial decisions and responded to calls for racial justice. Our comprehensive report examined Bendapudi’s leadership style, the areas she’s faced the most criticism, and what members of the Penn State community can expect from the 19th president.

The profile helps put some recent Penn State news — such as reuniting the law schools and canceling the Center for Racial Justice — in perspective. 

Wyatt Massey, Penn State Investigative Reporter

Fire Service Funding

Negotiations between Centre County’s Walker Township and its volunteer fire company on whether to raise a fire protection tax reached an impasse this fall. While the fire company insists a $1 million increase was the only way to achieve financial stability without sacrificing services, the three township supervisors cannot agree on how to give additional funding that they said the company deserves. 

As of Dec. 14, talks of a new funding agreement for the Walker Township Fire Company were ongoing. Readers from across Pennsylvania, however, told Spotlight PA that the challenges of the changing relationships between volunteer fire companies — as they grow more reliant on taxpayer funding — and their local governments resonated beyond one municipality.

Min Xian, Local Accountability Reporter

Investigating Deaths 

This fall, Spotlight PA published a story about the challenges facing coroners’ offices in rural counties. The reporting revealed that how well a death is investigated largely depends on where a person dies. 

Most coroners’ offices lack funding, accreditation, and standardization, according to a study from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania and interviews with coroners.

The story reignited debate over how coroners should be selected in Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review published an op-ed questioning the effectiveness of electing coroners. The Pennsylvania State Coroners Association also responded to the study and article. 

Ashad Hajela, Rural Affairs Reporter and Report for America corps member

Support Spotlight PA's independent, nonpartisan journalism and for a limited time, your gift will be TRIPLED.
This is it: We have just 3 days left to hit our 2022 member drive goal, and we need you know. This work cannot continue without your support — it's that simple. 

Make a tax-deductible contribution now.

Thank you to the hundreds of people who have given since last week, including Deirdre G., who said, "You cover PA stories I can't read about anywhere else." Join Deirdre & get your contribution TRIPLED »
» Partisan fights dominated the Pa. legislature’s recent session, eclipsing some major accomplishments

» Who is on Pa. Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro’s transition team? (Full list)

» The Pennsylvania legislature is getting a major infusion of new blood this January
The Spotlight PA State College team is grateful for your support and wishes you a happy, healthy new year!

Want to be featured here? Send your best local pics to
Georgianna Sutherland / For Spotlight PA
» Halfmoon Twp. votes to withdraw from Schlow Library over contract issues (Centre Daily Times)

» Centre County Commissioners adopt final 2023 budget with no tax increase (

» Cleanup continues at Williamsport superfund site decades after issues discovered near aviation company (

» Blair County adopts $57.6M budget with no increase in real estate taxes (Altoona Mirror)

» Recount of 2020 election can cost Lycoming County up to $60K (Williamsport Sun-Gazette)
Want us to list your event? Send it to us.

» Now-Jan. 8: See the holiday lights on the lake in Altoona.

» Dec. 31: Ring in the new year at First Night State College.

» Dec. 31: Join Cherry Springs State Park's educator for a "starry evening stroll along crisp, wintery landscape."

» Dec. 31: Enjoy family-friendly entertainment and activities at First Night Bradford

» Jan. 1: Take a First Day hike at state parks like Canoe Creek in Hollidaysburg, Lyman Run in Galeton, and Sinnemahoning in Austin.
Support Spotlight PA's investigative journalism for Pennsylvania and for a limited time, your gift will be TRIPLED.
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!

Last week's answer: Lights

Congrats to Linda C., who will receive Spotlight PA State College swag. Others who answered correctly: Steven S., Donna D., Jeffrey F., Jay G., and Tish M.
Do you have events, community shoutouts, questions about our region, or tips on stories that we should pursue? Email our team.
Love north-central Pennsylvania? Subscribe to Talk of the Town!

Have a friend who would like our work? Share our newsletter!

Our State College bureau depends on your support.

Help us rebuild local news by becoming a member now and for a limited time, all gifts will be TRIPLED.

Spotlight PA is an independent, non-partisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with PennLive/The Patriot-News, TribLIVE/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and WITF Public Media.

Copyright © Spotlight PA / The Philadelphia Inquirer, All rights reserved.

Spotlight PA
228 Walnut St., #11728
Harrisburg, PA 17108-1728

You're receiving this email because you've subscribed to updates from our State College regional bureau covering North-Central PA.

This email was sent to: <<Email Address>>

You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.