Lebanon County tech students make parts for Space Station

Students at vocational and technical schools relish the opportunity to get real-world experiences. Very few ever get the chance to contribute to out of this world projects, but that’s just what students at the Lebanon County Career and Technology Center (LCCTC) in Eric Tanger’s Industrial Machine Technology are doing.

They’re making parts for NASA and the International Space Station.

It’s part of a program that pairs high schools with NASA.

To tell us more about this unique partnership on Monday’s Smart Talk is Eric Tanger, Precision Machining Instructor at the Lebanon County Career and Technology Center.

WITF’s Careers That Work is an ongoing, evolving multimedia initiative highlighting workforce development in south central Pennsylvania. It is supported by Tech Link South Central PA Consortium for Career and Technical Education. Learn more at witf.org/careersthatwork.

LGBTQ advocates and allies fight efforts to repeal discrimination ordinance in Chambersburg

Saying it hasn’t happened anywhere else in Pennsylvania, LGBTQ advocates and allies are protesting a proposal by Chambersburg’s Borough Council to roll back an anti-discrimination ordinance, that was adopted last year by a previous council.

The Council could vote Monday night to repeal the ordinance that would have established a local human relations commission. That will have the affect of squashing the anti-discrimination law.

The original ordinance was approved last fall when Democrats made up the majority of the Council. Republicans now are in the majority and say the ordinance isn’t needed because it duplicates what the Pennsylvania Human Relations does which is “legislatively delegated authority to investigate whenever a complaint alleging the occurrence of unlawful discrimination in the areas of employment, housing and commercial property, education and/or regarding public accommodations has been filed.”

The Pennsylvania Youth Congress, that supports the ordinance say, “it would remove the hope for an accessible way to report discrimination and pursue mediation for LGBTQ individuals and veterans within the borough.”

Preston Heldibridle, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Youth Congress is on Monday’s Smart Talk to explain his group’s opposition to the repeal.


Lancaster County firm introduces hemp-fed, cage-free eggs

Hemp has been making a comeback in recent years. It’s a crop that played an important role throughout history until it became illegal to grow because of its relationship to marijuana, although no one was getting high off of hemp.

Farmers have been encouraged to grow hemp in the last few years because it’s cheap, easy to grow and has a multitude of uses.

However, Kreider Farms in Lancaster County has found a new role for hemp — feeding cage-free chickens a vegetarian diet that includes 20% hemp seed. Marketing the brand name Chiques Creek eggs, Kreiders says the eggs are healthier for humans partly because they contain three times the omega-3 fatty acids than traditional eggs.

On Thursday’s Smart Talk, we learn more about Chiques Creek hemp eggs from Khalee Kreider, Marketing Manager, Kreider Farms.

DEP: Number of polluted waterways in Pa. up

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection says a third of the state’s streams are impaired or polluted — meaning those waterways are unsafe for aquatic life, recreation, fish consumption and water supply. All told, Pennsylvania has 27,886 miles of streams that are impaired — almost 2,400 more than in 2020.

The<a href=”https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/b9746eec807f48d99decd3a583eede12″> draft 2022 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report</a> is updated every two years as part of the 50-year-old Clean Water Act.

The report indicates that abandoned mine water runoff, agricultural runoff and storm water runoff are the three biggest sources of pollution.

Eighty-nine percent of Lancaster County’s streams are impaired putting the county near the top of the counties with the highest percentage of polluted streams. More than half the streams in Dauphin, Berks, Cumberland, Franklin, and York Counties are impaired, according to the report.

Dustin Shull, Manager of Assessment Section in the Bureau of Clean Water at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is on Thursday’s <em><strong>Smart Talk</strong></em> with more information.


Looking at Fulton County voting machine issues


Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court last week blocked an inspection of voting machine equipment in heavily-Republican Fulton County – a county where former President Donald Trump won easily.

The machines Republicans want to look at have been decertified because another company without election experience examined those machines last year. The company found nothing consequential.

WITF’s Capitol Bureau Chief Sam Dunklau was in the courtroom last week when this decision was handed down and is with us on Wednesday’s <em><strong>Smart Talk</strong></em>.

Poll confirms Americans deeply divided on election issues

A poll by Muhlenberg College and Keep Our Republic finds that Pennsylvanians continue to be polarized when it comes to elections and voting.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the poll is how Democrats and Republicans view the 2020 presidential election and see the threats to voting in 2022 differently. For example, 57% of Democrats say voter suppression is what could keep the state from having a safe, secure and accurate election, while most Republicans identified voter fraud and the use of mail-in ballots as what could derail this year’s election when voters will choose members of Congress and the state General Assembly.

The January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol was another area of disagreement. 56% of Democrats say it was an insurrection against the U.S. government while 63% of Republicans say it was not. Trump supports stormed the Capitol that day in an attempt to prevent Congress from certifying President Joe’s Biden election as president.

The poll also showed 57% of voters disapprove of the way President Biden is handling his job and 51% disapprove of how Gov. Tom Wolf is handling his job.

On Wednesday’s Smart Talk, we break down the results of the poll with Christopher Borick, Director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion and Mark Medish, co-founder of Keep Our Republic, a non-partisan, national civic education non-profit.  He served as Special Assistant to the President, Senior Director on the National Security Council and as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury in the Clinton administration. He also worked on foreign assistance at the State Department and the U.N. Development Program.


Penn State researchers find a way to predict COVID surges

The U.S. is in the middle of another COVID-19 surge – this one driven by the omicron variant.

Almost two years into the pandemic, one of frustrations for the medical community and — really all of us — is the unpredictability of the virus. And that includes knowing where there will be a surge.

Researchers at Penn State may have found one way to predict outbreaks – pinpointing areas where residents are most or least likely to comply with CDC mitigation guidelines.

Dr. Robert Lennon, an associate professor of family and community medicine at the Penn State College of Medicine led the research and is on Tuesday’s Smart Talk.

Low blood supplies are a “national crisis”

The nation’s blood supplies are at historically low levels and it could have real world impacts when patients need blood to be treated for an illness, condition or injury.

The American Red Cross has called the current supply of blood a “national crisis” and dangerously low.

The Red Cross provides 40% of the nation’s blood supply.

They say that right now doctors are being forced to decide which patients receive blood transfusions and who must wait.

On Tuesday’s Smart Talk, we’re joined by Laura Burke, Executive Director, American Red Cross Central Pennsylvania Chapter to explain.

To donate blood:

American Red Cross

Central Pennsylvania Blood Bank


Central Pennsylvania figure skaters prepare for competition

The Winter Olympics in Beijing begin in less than three weeks on February 4th. Figure skating will be one of the most watched competitions and one that garners the most interest.

Central Pennsylvania has a robust figure skating scene itself. The Central Pennsylvania Figure Skating Club trains skaters and competes in competitions with other local and regional clubs.

To tell us more about it on Tuesday’s Smart Talk are Becky Hilger, President of the Central Pennsylvania Figure Skating Club and United States Figure Skating Association judge and Janice Rink, former competitor and current coach on hand.

Harrisburg University will be home to new Center for Sustainability

News is out this week about the new Giant Center for Advanced Agriculture and Sustainability at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology.

When in operation, the center will provide “research, education, career pathing in sustainability, controlled environment agriculture, and clean water initiatives.”

Ian Kanski, Director for Center is on Thursday’s Smart Talk with more details.