Dr. Laurie Carter, President of Shippensburg University

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Photo from Shippensburg University

What to look for on Smart Talk Friday, September 14, 2018:

Joining Friday’s Smart Talk to discuss student success is Dr. Laurie Carter, president of Shippensburg University. What defines successful students? Is it their GPA, how quickly they find jobs, or how quickly they graduate? Many factors, like mental and social development, contribute to a student’s overall educational success.

Dr. Carter is the first female and first African American president of Shippensburg University. She takes on the job prepared with bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees from public universities, all received while working full-time. She’s worked in college administration at schools such as Eastern Kentucky University and The Julliard School for over 20 years. Along the way, she developed a student affairs department from scratch and built an in-house law department at Julliard. Her time as Shippensburg president is the newest chapter in her higher education career.

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Dr. Laurie Carter in studio

Originally founded as the Cumberland Valley State Normal School in 1871, Shippensburg University was established in 1983 by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PSSHE). Located in Cumberland County, the school is home to over 6,000 graduate and undergraduate students who come from all over Pennsylvania and the US. The university emphasizes collaboration and is invested in south-central Pennsylvania communities.

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Shippensburg Campus

Conversations with college and university leaders are important to Smart Talk, as these schools play a large role in the success of local students and communities. Listeners can call 1-800-729-7532, email smarttalk@witf.org, or tweet @SmartTalkWITF with questions or comments.

Also, we live in polarizing times. Politicians from different political parties with opposing points of view aside, we all probably know even friends and family members who have strained relationships because they disagree. Many don’t see eye to eye on questions of faith. That’s why this weekend’s Harmony Walk in Harrisburg is so remarkable. It brings together people of several religions. Rev. Cynthia Mara tells us about the walk.

Craft Brewing in Pennsylvania

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What to look for on Smart Talk Thursday, September 13, 2018:

Will Hurricane Florence have an impact on Pennsylvania this weekend? Even if the storm doesn’t affect the region, it still is one of the wettest summers on record. On Thursday’s Smart Talk, we’ll speak with Eric Horst, Director of Millersville University’s Weather Center about Florence and the rainy weather over the past few weeks.


This photo provided by NASA shows Hurricane Florence from the International Space Station on Sept. 10, 2018 / Photo by NASA via AP

Beer and Pennsylvania have a long and storied past. America’s oldest brewery, Yuengling, is in Pottsville where they began brewing operations in 1829. Today, craft beer production in Pennsylvania, and the U.S., is growing rapidly. Pennsylvania appears at the top of most craft beer production lists, and currently ranks 6th in the nation with more than 300 licensed breweries.

According to a study by the Brewers Association, Pennsylvania ranks number one in the U.S for barrels of beer produced at nearly 4 million; producing more than half a million more gallons than California coming in at number two.

If you like beer, that’s good news!

So, what defines a craft brewery? Typically, three characteristics. According to the Brewers Association, craft breweries are small; producing six million barrels of beer or less per year. They are independent; less than 25 percent of the brewery is owned or controlled by a beverage industry member (think big brewers). And their product is traditional; flavors come from traditional ingredients and fermentation methods.


The craft brewing boom comes with a huge economic impact. Small brewers in the United States contributed more than $76 billion dollars to the economy last year. In Pennsylvania, the economic impact was nearly six billion dollars, putting the state second only to California. The impact is experienced not only by the brewers, but wholesalers, retailers, restaurants and taprooms.

The craft beer industry has many economic tendrils, weaving connections into other industries, as well. Two of the state’s largest economic engines, agriculture and tourism, are supporting initiatives for the craft brewing industry. Agriculture experts are consulting with growers to improve hops productivity in Pennsylvania, and the Department of Tourism is helping communities market craft brewery’s as a destination, creating “beer trails” linking breweries as wineries have done in other areas.

Joining Smart Talk on Thursday to talk about the growth, challenges and impact of brewing in Pennsylvania are Erin Miskell and David Kozloski, co owner’s of GearHouse Brewing Co. in Chambersburg, Carrie Fischer Lepore, Deputy Secretary of Marketing, Tourism and Film, and Tom Ford, Commercial Horticulture Educator with the Penn State Extension.


David Kozloski, Erin Miskell and Carrie Fischer Lepore

Report on capital punishment in Pennsylvania

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What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, September 12, 2018:

There are 147 names on the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections list of people sentenced to death in the state as of Aug. 1, 2018. This number has been decreasing, not because people are being executed, but because they die while awaiting execution or get their sentences changed. In the past 56 years – of which the death penalty was in place for 50 – three people have been executed. This information comes from a report on capital punishment in Pennsylvania published in June by the task force and advisory committee of the Joint State Government Commission.

The committee examined the death penalty system in Pennsylvania. Among the topics it investigated were impacts of bias, quality of legal representation, and monetary and emotional costs of the death penalty. The report drew on work by the Justice Center for Research at Pennsylvania State University, the Interbranch Commission on Gender, Racial and Ethnic Fairness, and a committee of advisors.

Regarding bias:

Incorporating information from the earlier Final Report of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Committee on Racial and Gender Bias in the Justice System, which was commissioned in 1999, the task force and advisory committee report says that the race of the victim influences administration of the death penalty, regardless of the race of the defendant. Death sentences are more likely to be assigned if the victim is white than if the victim is black. When the victim is Hispanic, prosecutors are more likely to seek the death penalty.

However, the earlier report on racial and gender bias noted that “although Pennsylvania’s minority population is 11 percent, two-thirds (68 percent) of the inmates on death row are minorities.” According to the DOC current execution list, 74 of the 147 people on Pennsylvania’s death row are black.

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Data from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Execution List / Graphic by Avery Van Etten

The studies did not look at “possible bias associated with any other stage of the process, including arrest, charging and plea bargaining,” so racial bias in other aspects of the criminal justice system could contribute to these disproportionate ratios. The report notes that the Justice Center for Research is seeking funding to further investigate the earlier phases of the criminal justice process.

To better understand how race plays a role in sentencing, the task force and advisory committee recommends that Pennsylvania adopt a proportionality review method to study whether death sentences are excessive or out of line with sentences imposed in other cases” in which the convicts were not sentenced to death. The review might consider data such as defendantsgender, race/ethnicity, psychiatric state and educational background. The report says this practice “can reveal unfair, arbitrary or discriminatory variability in outcomes.”

The two reports say that non-race-based differences also play a role in sentencing. Men are sentenced to death and executed at higher rates than women, and defendants are more likely to receive the death penalty if the victim is female. Death sentences are given more in some Pennsylvania counties than others (see page 261 of the report), and the task force and advisory committee says location is responsible for the most significant differences in sentencing. Additionally, the quality of defendants’ legal counsel influences the outcomes of their trials.

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Data from “Chivalry Is Not Dead: Murder, Gender, and the Death Penalty” by Steven F. and Naomi R. Shatz, included in the report / Graphic by Avery Van Etten

Regarding quality of legal representation:

In general, capital defendants are more likely to receive the death penalty if they are represented by public defenders than if they are represented by privately retained lawyers, according to the task force and advisory committee report.

Public defenders and other forms of free counsel represent indigent defendants who cannot afford legal counsel. These indigent defendants account for 80% of capital defendants, according to the report. The report says that “some indigent defense practitioners failed to meet professional standards.” This is partly due to other differences between Pennsylvania counties – there are not statewide standards for training indigent defense practitioners, so each county is individually responsible for training and supervising these defenders.

According to the report, “Some observers have argued that many of the lawyers who represent death defendants are unqualified to meet the heavy demands of capital cases; consequently, defendants receive poor representation, resulting in reversible errors and, in some cases, the risk of convicting an innocent person.” Of the Pennsylvania inmates sentenced to death under the state’s 1978 death-penalty statute, 150 have had their sentences overturned as of May 2018 because of ineffective counsel, says the report.

To address differences in quality of legal counsel, the report recommends that Pennsylvania establish a “state-funded capital defender office” to provide legal representation to people being tried in capital cases. The task force and advisory committee suggests that in addition to reducing errors, this organization of defenders would also save money by decreasing the number of convictions that have to be reversed in subsequent proceedings.

Regarding costs:

The report by the task force and advisory committee states that the death sentence costs significantly more than a sentence of life without parole. Much of this cost comes from the appeals process and expense of incarcerating people for long periods of time on a high-security death row.

A memo from Amnesty International Group 39 that is included in the report says that research done in multiples states has found that death penalty cases are “up to 10 times more expensive than other comparable cases.” This memo also says that the appeals processes involved in death sentences cost millions of dollars.

However, the report and the memo it includes say that expediting the process would increase the risk of convicting an innocent person.

Comprehensive data on costs of death sentences versus life without parole sentences does not exist in Pennsylvania according to the report. To try to estimate the differences, report contributors sent surveys to Pennsylvania judges, prosecutors, public defenders and victim advocates. Though the sample size of completed surveys was small, the results did support the conclusion that capital murder cases are more expensive.

The report notes, “Some costs might be avoided if the prospect of a capital sentence induces one to plead guilty to avoid that sentence.” However, it also says that survey responses showed that people plead guilty in non-capital murder cases, too.

In addition to monetary costs, the report found that death sentences can also have emotional costs. Of course, capital trials and death sentences emotionally impact the accused, but the report also investigated potential secondary trauma experienced by law enforcement officers, prosecutors, defense counselors, judges, jurors, correctional officers, people close to the victims, and family of the accused due to capital cases.

Report writers distributed surveys to judges, prosecutors, public defenders and victim advocates. Of the total responses received, more than 64 percent “indicated that a typical, capital murder case causes more stress or anxiety than a typical, noncapital murder case.” Over 70 percent of the responses “indicated that a typical, capital murder case causes more emotional strain than a typical, noncapital murder case.”

Contrastingly, the cumulative majority of responses showed that capital murder cases have no negative effect on health, consumption of drugs or alcohol, family or social life, religiosity, spirituality, or morality. In 2013, Pennsylvania State University and Department of Corrections staff administered a different survey to a small sample of State Correctional Institution Greene correctional officers and victims’ and inmates’ loved ones. The report says that “the survey revealed that in no instance was the capital punishment condition associated with statistically higher PTSD, depression or stress than the non-capital punishment condition.”

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The DOC execution list shows that 127 of the 147 Pennsylvania inmates on death row are housed here, at SCI Greene / Photo from Pennsylvania Department of Corrections

The report also offers information and recommendations about several other aspects of capital cases. One recommendation is that judges should determine if defendants are intellectually disabled during the pre-trial stage rather than the post-trial one, saving time and money as the case would no longer continue capitally. Another recommendation states that severely mentally ill defendants should not be allowed to receive the death penalty, similarly to the conviction of intellectually disabled murderers.

Governor Wolf imposed a moratorium on the death penalty in Pennsylvania in 2015. It has been reported that he intends to maintain the moratorium until the recommendations in this report are addressed.

Joining us on today’s Smart Talk to discuss the report and its findings and recommendations are Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman and Co-Director of the Atlantic Center for Capital Representation Marc Bookman.


Craig Stedman and Marc Bookman

Anxiety disorder and panic attacks

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What to look for on Smart Talk Monday, September 11, 2018:

Everyone worries; some people more than others. When does excessive worry become anxiety?

While occasional anxiety is a normal part of everyday life, anxiety disorder involves more than temporary worry; it is marked by worry and fear that does not go away and gets worse over time.

According a recent Tribune Content Report, nearly one in five adult Americans experience anxiety disorder each year. Anxiety disorders in children are common, too, and affect over 25% of children between 13 and 18 years old.

There are different types of anxiety disorders, but they all can interfere with daily activities like work, school, and relationships.

Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder. Panic disorder and anxiety often begin during adolescence, although they may start during childhood, and sometimes run in families.

A panic attack can begin without warning. It is an abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak in a matter of minutes. The heart pounds, hands shake, and it literally feels like what is happening could kill you; they can be that frightening.

If you have ever experienced a panic attack, these symptoms are all too familiar. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, what differentiates a panic attack from other anxiety symptoms is the intensity and duration of the symptoms. Panic attacks typically reach their peak level of intensity in 10 minutes or less and then begin to subside.

For many people suffering from the attacks, the fear of them can be debilitating. They may become so worried about having another attack that they change their lifestyle and avoid situations that may trigger an event. This fear and avoidance can lead to panic disorder. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, more than three million Americans may experience this disorder in their lifetime.

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Shannon Weise and Dr. Katherine Dahlsgaard

Joining Smart Talk on Tuesday to discuss anxiety disorder and panic attacks is Dr. Katherine Dahlsgaard, Ph.D., Clinical Director of the Anxiety Behaviors Clinic at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Also, on the program are Kristin and her 11-year-old son James, who began experiencing anxiety as early as five and was recently diagnosed with panic disorder. They are in the studio, along with Counselor Shannon Weise, licensed clinical social worker specializing in the treatment of anxiety disorders.

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Kristin and James

WITF’s PA Post launches and REAL IDs in Pennsylvania

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What to look for on Smart Talk Monday, September 10, 2018:

Coming soon to an email inbox, radio, newspaper or website near you: PA Post, a digital-first, citizen-focused news organization created by WITF Public Media.

WITF launches PAPost.org on Monday, featuring news articles and analysis focusing on Pennsylvania state policies and politics. There are three main components to PA Post. First is the website. Second is a Monday through Friday e-newsletter called The Context, which begins Sept. 17 and will include top stories (from PA Post and trusted media partners) and analysis. The Context is written by Emily Previti and edited by Scott Blanchard. The third component of PA Post is a weekly podcast, called State of the State. The podcast begins Sept. 27 and is hosted by Capitol Bureau Chief Katie Meyer.

Why PA Post? WITF Public Media has covered legislative and statewide issues since our founding in 1964, on television at first, and then on radio, in print, at community meetings and online. We’ve built both a public and commercial radio network for state government news and PA Post expands that distribution network to include newspapers and digital media organizations across the state. Select media partners will collaborate with us to contribute their content to PA Post, as well.

WITF Public Media is pleased to introduce PA Post to our fellow Pennsylvanians, and appearing on Smart Talk to discuss the initiative are WITF President and CEO Kathleen Pavelko and Multimedia News Director Tim Lambert. We are also joined by Evan Smith, CEO and co-founder of The Texas Tribune, a digital news organization whose deep coverage of Texas served as an inspiration for the PA Post digital model.

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Kathleen Pavelko and Tim Lambert

Also on Monday’s Smart Talk, the REAL ID Act, passed by Congress after 9/11, seeks to improve national security by ensuring that everyone has secure driver’s licenses and identification documents. Beginning in spring of 2019, Pennsylvanians will be able to obtain REAL IDs. These IDs will be needed to board domestic commercial flights and to enter certain federal buildings and nuclear energy plants.

It is not mandatory for Pennsylvanians to purchase REAL IDs; PennDOT says that other forms of “federally-acceptable identification,” such as passports and military IDs, can be used to board flights and gain access to secure sites, as well. A REAL ID will not be necessary for tasks such as driving and voting.

The new IDs will cost $30 up front, plus a periodic renewal fee, similar to a standard driver’s license. To make sure that people are not losing money or time in transitioning to this new form of identification, PennDOT explains, “The expiration date of the initial REAL ID product will include any time remaining on your current license or ID card, plus an additional four years, unless you areover 65 and have a two-year license. For more information visit PennDOT’s REAL ID website.

On Monday’s Smart Talk to discuss Pennsylvania’s implementation of the REAL ID are Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman McLaurine Klingler and PennDOT Deputy Secretary for Driver and Vehicle Services Kurt Myers.

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Kurt Myers

When interests collide: municipalities, communities and development

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What to look for on Smart Talk Friday, September 7, 2018:

Smart and sustained growth is a goal for most communities. What happens, though, when planned growth and development conflicts with the interests of one or more key stakeholders?

Several high-profile community disputes involving municipalities, developers and community membersmade headlines this summer.

One such battle involved the Cumberland Valley School District, they hoped to construct a new school on the McCormick Farm, which is part of the Natural Lands Trust. After considerable public outcry and hearings, the school district withdrew their plans.

In another example of conflicting interests, developers seek a zoning text amendment to develop the Summerdale Property in East Pennsboro Township. They hope to develop a light industrial component to the property, which could include warehousing. A public debate began, and the township planning commission recently recommended rejecting any changes. Township officials take up that vote this month.  

So, if most communities seek smart and sustained growth, how do stakeholders work together toward a consensus? And if they cannot, what is the process to defend their interests?

Joining the conversation today are Kirk Stoner, director of Planning, Cumberland County, Nathan Wolf, Attorney at Law, Lisa Riggs, President, the Economic Development Company of Lancaster County, and Tim Spiese, board member, Lancaster Against Pipelines.

Road trip to Martin Library in York

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What to look for on Smart Talk Thursday, September 5, 2018:

York is undergoing several revitalization projects in an effort to bolster economic development in the area. The historic Yorktowne Hotel is being renovated, and the Landmark Properties Project is responsible for updating two more buildings in the city. In addition, the York Plan 2.0 Innovation District is a project that focuses on developing the Northwest Triangle and bringing it into our technological future. Thursday’s Smart Talk Road Trip takes us to Martin Library, where we’ll discuss the city’s revitalization work.

The Yorktowne Hotel opened in 1925. In 2015 the York County Industrial Development Authority (YCIDA) purchased the property, and the following year the building closed as the more than $36 million renovation project began. The hotel is scheduled to reopen late next year as part of the Tapestry Collection by Hilton. Though the building will have updated facilities, it will maintain its characteristic old-fashioned charm.

After reopening, the Yorktowne Hotel is expected to employ around 100 people. Even while under renovation, it maintains a role in the York community. At the beginning of last year, over 2,500 items from the hotel were donated to local non-profits. YCIDA partnered with the York College Hospitality Management Program to enable three students to be part of the renovation process. Last year, the building was made available to York County police to use for training exercises.

Two more York city locations are being updated as part of the Landmark Properties Project. Buildings at 101 E. Market St. and 335-351 W. Market St. are getting makeovers, which are expected to conclude this month. Royal Square Development & Construction (RSDC) is spearheading this project to create updated retail and apartment spaces in these buildings.

Joining us on our Road Trip to talk about these initiatives are York Mayor Michael Helfrich, Dylan Bauer, vice president of development for RSDC, Kevin Schreiber, president and CEO of York County Economic Alliance, and Andrew Staub, marketing and communications manager of Downtown Inc.

Another revitalization effort in the city is the York Plan 2.0 Innovation District. The project, led by York Exponential, aims to create a technology-based innovation hub in the northwest corner of York city. The estimated cost of the development is $64 million, which will go toward creating and renovating property to house robotic device production, design workshops, and space for offices and laboratories. John McElligott, CEO of York Exponential, hopes to break ground on the project at the end of this year.

McElligott joins Mayor Helfrich, Schreiber and Staub on Thursday’s Smart Talk to discuss the York Plan 2.0 Innovation District.

Development comes with concerns about inclusion. Mayor Helfrich faced backlash from members of York’s minority community after suggesting a plan to form a contract with the York County Economic Alliance and use their staff to supplement York’s Department of Economic and Community Development. Members of the city’s minority population expressed fears that their voices would be minimized or left out of the redevelopment process, that economic development would be outsourced, and that gentrification could displace minority residents. 

Mayor Helfrich’s plan for revitalization in York focuses on expansion and inclusion. For example, he wants to add two new employees (the maximum the budget will allow) to the Department of Economic and Community Development. One of these employees, he has said, should be fluent in Spanish in order to better communicate with the city’s Latino community. The city’s revitalization efforts have also focused on including low-income residents. 

We talk about these topics with Thursday’s guests, as well.

“Today’s Smart Talk Road Trip LIVE remote broadcast is supported by Roof Advisory and CGA Law Firm.”

Tailgating season and the Mary Sachs ladies shop

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Mary Sachs’ store interior, 1932 / Photo courtesy of Jeb Stuart

What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, September 5, 2018:

The hot summer weather may not elicit thoughts of autumn tailgating and indoor cooking, but the transition into fall is here and with that, different cooking styles and recipes.  Cooking moves inside in the fall and as the traditional grilling season winds down. Some of the foods we cook and how we cook them are changing, too. Tailgating, for example, is about make-ahead grilling options and delicious desserts prepared without a kitchen at hand, so the recipes must be easy and transportable.

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Bacon blondies and bacon toffee

Appearing on Wednesday’s Smart Talk is Chef Donna Desfor, host of WITF Cooks and founder of There’s a Chef in My Kitchen, to talk about seasonal cooking and tailgating. Desfor and Now That’s A Mouthful co-host Cherie Krause are in the studio.

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Cherie Krause and Donna Desfor

Also, on Smart Talk, we look back in history at the woman who was called Harrisburg’s most successful entrepreneur of the 20th Century.  Mary Sachs opened her “ladies shop” in downtown Harrisburg in 1918.  At the time, it was a one-of-a-kind retail clothing store for women, giving ladies access to New York City fashions.

According to the Historic Harrisburg Association, Mary Sachs was said to have impeccable taste and a strong business acumen. Her store remained a vital part of the downtown Harrisburg retail landscape for more than 60 years before it was purchased by Hess’s Inc. of Allentown and eventually closed.

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Mary Sachs with former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt / Photo courtesy of Jeb Stuart

Mary Sachs died in 1960, but a charitable trust in her name continues to provide scholarships for young women entering the fields of fashion and merchandising.  The centennial recognition of the Mary Sachs store opening is scheduled on Thursday, from noon to 1pm at the Mary Sachs Building, 208 North Third Street, Harrisburg.

Joining us on Smart Talk to discuss Mary Sachs’s legacy is historian Jeb Stuart, Paul Hoch and Bill Greenberg, grand nephews and trustees of the Mary Sachs Trust and David Morrison, executive director of Historic Harrisburg.

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Paul Hoch, David Morrison and Jeb Stuart (Bill Greenberg is on the phone)

Pennsylvania Prison Lockdown and Hunger Action Month

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What to look for on Smart Talk Tuesday, September 4, 2018:

Last week, Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections took an unprecedented step by locking down the 25 correctional facilities in the state prison system after a rash of illnesses among some prison employees. Administrators believe the employees may have been exposed to synthetic drugs and that the lockdown is precautionary.

Pennsylvania is not the only state grappling with illnesses related to unknown substances.  

The lockdown came the same day 29 people at an Ohio prison were treated for accidental drug exposure, and the same week five inmates in Arkansas died of suspected overdoses. In every case, officials are not able to say which drugs were involved, or how they got into the prisons.

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Susan McNaughton said that while staff exposure is not unusual, the numbers are climbing. Since the beginning of August 6th, 29 employees developed symptoms in 13 separate incidents, at nine different prisons.

Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Corrections John Wetzel appears on Tuesday’s Smart Talk to explain the situation. For more information on the lockdown, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections website.

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John Wetzel / Photo from governor.pa.gov news blog

Also on Smart Talk, September is Hunger Action Month. A national nonprofit organization started Hunger Action Month more than 10 years ago to encourage community involvement in the fight against hunger. Now every September, food banks across the nation join the effort to raise awareness of the problem and encourage volunteers to get involved.

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The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank is leading the effort in our area, hoping to create a lasting impact and feed Americans in need. Volunteers are encouraged to join the movement by making donations or volunteering their time during the month of September. The yearly recognition is intended to be more than a temporary effort and to remind Americans that hungry families need their help all year.

Joining us on Smart Talk to talk about the initiative are Joe Arthur, Central Pennsylvania Food Bank Executive Director, and food bank volunteer Paul Smith.


Paul Smith and Joe Arthur