Tick and mosquito borne illness and restoring a local cemetery


What to look for on Smart Talk Tuesday, April 30, 2019:

Ticks and mosquitos are more than just nuisance bugs. Their bites can be dangerous.

Spring and summer weather means that more of us are spending time outdoors, making incidental contact with these pests more likely.

The Department of Environmental Protection announced a five-year tick surveillance program last month to assess the risk of tickborne illness across Pennsylvania.

Lyme disease is known to most, however, there are other tickborne diseases with dangerous effects.

Mosquitos can also transmit serious illness through their bite, including the Zika virus, West Nile virus, dengue, and malaria. The Pennysylvania Department of Environmental Protection has launched a new interactive West Nile Control Program website to inform the public.

Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss mosquito and tickborne illnesses are Dr. John Goldman, MD, Infectious Disease specialist at UPMC Pinnacle, Matt Helwig, Water program specialist, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Keith Price, PhD, Aquatic Biologist Supervisor, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

Untitled design - 2019-04-30T090917.733.png

Dr. John Goldman, MD, Dr. Keith Price, PhD., and Matt Helwig

Also, the Midland Cemetery in Swatara Township is an enduring backdrop of the community.

It is also an historic place; a burial site for slaves, black freemen and women, Buffalo Soldiers and veterans from many eras.

The cemetery was founded in 1795, and there may be many more burial sites there than head stones would indicate.

Joining Smart Talk to discuss the cemetery’s restoration efforts are Barbara Barksdale, Founder and President of the Friends of Midland, and Bill Steinhart, Senior Geophysicist with RETTEW. Steinhart conducted a ground penetrating radar project to help determine the actual cemetery boundaries.

Untitled design - 2019-04-30T100532.844.png

Bill Steinhart and Barbara Barksdale

Getting into college through the ‘front door’

Thumbnail image for Hispanic college student 300 x 170.jpg

What to look for on Smart Talk on Monday, April 29, 2019:

Last month, breaking news of a huge college admission cheating scandal dominated headlines across the country.

The story captured the nation’s attention because it involved allegations of cheating by the rich and powerful for their children to gain admission to prestigious colleges and universities.

The allegations included bribery, test doctoring, and athletic preference.

The admissions scandal has invited scrutiny of the admission practices of the colleges themselves. How does the process work? What grades, test scores and abilities does it take get into top-tiered schools?

Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss the process are Bill Conley, Vice President for Enrollment Management, Bucknell University, Larry Kostelac, Head Coach, Boys Basketball, Trinity HS, Camp Hill, and Kim Clements, Cumberland Valley High School, School Counselors Department Chair, and SAT test administrator.

Untitled design - 2019-04-29T090413.736.png

Larry Kostelac, Kim Clements, and Bill Conley


Commonwealth Interfaith Service / Poetry Out Loud state champion


What to look for on Smart Talk Friday, April 26, 2019:

The Hadee Mosque in Harrisburg will host a unique gathering of individuals on Monday.

Congregants representing numerous religious ideologies in the mid-state will join to offer prayers for justice and peace.

This is the 11th annual Commonwealth Interfaith Service, which provides an opportunity for participants to raise a “collective voice for a more just and peaceful world.”

Organizers stress that all denominations are welcome, and each group is invited to offer a prayer from their own tradition focusing on justice and peace.

Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss the prayer service are Rev. Sandy Strauss, Director of Advocacy & Ecumenical Outreach, Pennsylvania Council of Churches, Aaysha Noor, Social Justice advocate, & Interfaith Chairperson/Organizer, Islamic Society of Greater Harrisburg and Jenn Ross, President & CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg.

Untitled design - 2019-04-26T090547.288.png

Sandy Straus, Aaysha Noor, and Jenn Ross

Also, the 2019 Pennsylvania Poetry Out Loud state champion competes next week in the national contest in Washington, D.C. The competition will be available through a live, one-time-only webcast at arts.gov.

Jordan Marie Lewis is a Hershey High School sophomore who competed against nearly 5,700 students and, eventually, 15 state regional finalists to earn the top spot. There were 118 commonwealth schools in this year’s competition. The competitors select three poems from the Poetry Out Loud anthology.

Poetry Out Loud encourages students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance and competition.

Joining Smart Talk to highlight this unique contest are Jordan Marie Lewis, Pennsylvania Poetry Out Loud champion, Gayle Gluck, state coordinator for Poetry Out Loud, and Colette Silvestri, teacher and Poetry Out Loud coach, Hershey High School.

Untitled design - 2019-04-26T095354.485.png

Jordan Marie Lewis, Colette Silvestri, and Gayle Gluck

Untitled design - 2019-04-26T095607.237.png

Jordan Marie Lewis, Pennsylvania Poetry Out Loud state champion, recited “I Sit and Sew,” by Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson, 1918.

Transgender rights in the spotlight and rating the air we breathe

Untitled design.png

What to look for on Smart Talk on Thursday, April 18, 2019:

The Eastern Lancaster County school board has found itself under scrutiny for a recently approved ‘biological sex’ policy.

The policy for bathroom and locker room use highlights a public debate over transgender rights in a district with more than 3100 students.

Joining Thursday’s Smart Talk to discuss how the school district policy evolved and the subsequent community debate is PA Post reporter Ed Mahon.

Untitled design - 2019-04-25T091336.911.png

Ed Mahon

Also, when it comes to grading the air we breathe, there’s some good news and some bad news.

First the good news. Particle pollution in 2019 improved over 2018 numbers in the Lancaster-Harrisburg-York-and Lebanon areas. The bad news? The report still placed the cities on the list of the 25 most polluted by particles or soot in the nation.

The American Lung Association’s State of the Air 2019 report was released this week. It states that while region’s pollution levels may meet the national air quality standards, no threshold exists for the harmful effects from particle pollution.

Meanwhile, the number of high ozone days — which are driven by heat — has increased locally.

Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss the State of the Air 2019 report is Kevin M. Stewart, Director, Environmental Health Advocacy and Public Policy, The American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic.

Untitled design - 2019-04-25T093418.997.png

Kevin Stewart

Finally, WITF’s Transforming Health will examine the history of mental illness – its affect on our children and schools and the entrenched stigma connected to mental disorders.

Transforming Health: A History of Mental Illness will look back at the history of mental illness in Pennsylvania, which includes the rise and fall of institutionalized care and the continuing closure of state hospitals. The program will air on April 24 at 8pm on WITF-TV.

Untitled design - 2019-04-25T100346.111.png

Keira McGuire

Your gardening questions answered


What to look for on Smart Talk, Wednesday, April 24, 2019:

Spring has sprung, the sun is shining and flowers are in bloom. That means it’s time to plant those fruit and vegetable gardens. April showers might bring May flowers, but they also bring Smart Talk‘s annual gardening show.

Mother Nature has brought Pennsylvania plenty of rainy days this year, but it looks like the sunshine and warm temperatures may be here to stay. Peak blooming season has already begun for many trees and flowers, with May weather providing the best soil conditions for planting seeds. Pennsylvania is in 5, 6, and 7 USDA plant hardiness zones, and the best vegetables to plant in these zones include corn, cucumbers and squash.

Untitled design - 2019-04-24T091317.743.png

Scott LaMar trying the dandelion petal cookies, and enjoying it.

Erica Jo Shaffer, nursery manager at Highland Gardens in Camp Hill, appears on Smart Talk to answer your questions about growing, maintaining and planting flowers and trees in your garden.

Untitled design - 2019-04-24T091300.948.png

Erica Jo Shaffer

Do you have any questions for Ms. Shaffer? Email them to smarttalk@witf.org. And don’t forget to send us a photograph of your colorful flowers, plants, or trees and so that we might post them on WITF’s Facebook page.

Untitled design - 2019-04-24T091237.199.png

Dandellion petal cookies with a wild violet jam and a wild violet on top

Untitled design - 2019-04-24T091250.994.png

Roasted dandelion root Chai tea

Pat, a listener in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, says that, “Last year, I mulched with hay. Most of my veggies were fine, but the squash and cantaloupes rotted before harvest. Was this just my garden or did the excessive rain affect everyone?”

Untitled design - 2019-04-24T095740.484.png

Pat from Chambersburg’s garden affected by the excessive moisture.

Lisa, a listener in Hershey shared a picture of her corn crops from last year. She says, “I grew corn last year, and some kernels were cloudy and formed uneven rows on the cobs. What did I do wrong?”

Untitled design - 2019-04-24T100012.223.png

Lisa’s corn crop

Game Changers: Pennsylvania Women Who Made History / The Reuben Garnett, Jr. Memorial Bridge

Untitled design (4).png

Photos courtesy of Pennsylvania Governor’s Residence

What to look for on Smart Talk Friday, April 23, 2019:

Grace Kelly, Daisy Lampkin, and Genevieve Blatt are three of the faces adorning the wall of a new exhibit at the Pennsylvania Governor’s Residence.

Game Changers: Pennsylvania Women Who Made History includes portraits of Pennsylvanian women from diverse fields including education, the arts, politics and science–just to name a few.

Over thirty women are included in the exhibit–each one highlighting the contributions and challenges women have faced in shaping the history of the state and the nation.

Joining us on Tuesday’s Smart Talk to discuss the exhibit and the idea behind “Game Changers” is the 45th First Lady of Pennsylvania Frances Donnelly Wolf, and Andrea Lowery, executive director of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

Untitled design - 2019-04-23T095721.076.png

Andrea Lowery and First Lady Frances Donnelly Wolf

Also, Reuben Louis Garnett, Jr., was a local soldier with a larger-than-life personality. Known to his friends as “Sweet Daddy Grace,” Garnett left a lasting impression on everyone he met. Sadly, Garnett was killed in Vietnam on March 4, 1966, leaving behind his family in Steelton.

After his death, the Garnett family dealt with grief, compounded by prejudice when Reuben’s mother tried to join a local military support group for grieving parents. His family worked hard to right that wrong over the years and now more than fifty years later, a local bridge will be named in his honor.

The Specialist 4 Reuben Garnett, Jr., Memorial Bridge will be dedicated on May 2 and is located on a portion of PA Route 39, also known as Linglestown Road, over US Route 22 in the City of Harrisburg, Dauphin County.

Appearing on Smart Talk to share her brother’s story is India Garnett, along with Democratic State Representative Patty Kim of Dauphin County, who was instrumental in securing the memorial bridge designation.

Visit The Vietnam War:WITF Stories for an indepth look at how the Vietnam War impacted the people of South Central Pennsylvania.

Untitled design - 2019-04-23T094501.998.png

India Garnett and Rep. Patty Kim

Earth Day Road Trip to Char’s focuses on climate change

Kid holding Earth 600 x 340.jpg

What to look for on Smart Talk Monday, April 22, 2019:

Monday is the 49th anniversary of the first Earth Day. According to earthday.org “On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.”

Today, the biggest environmental issue and challenge is climate change.

Monday’s Smart Talk takes a Road Trip to Char’s Tracy Mansion, along the Susquehanna River on North Front Street in Harrisburg, to discuss climate change from several angles.

Among those appearing on the program is Dr. Donald Brown, Scholar in Residence for Sustainability Ethics and Law through Widener University’s Commonwealth Law School’s Environmental Law and Sustainability Center. Over the past decade, Dr. Brown has attended and participated in most of the international conferences and meetings on climate change.

Donald Brown.png

Dr. Donald Brown and Scott LaMar

Also joining us is attorney Robert McKinstry, who is one of the petitioners to the state, calling on Pennsylvania to implement an “auction cap and trade” program to make Pennsylvania carbon neutral by 2052.


Scott LaMar and Robert McKinstry

Finally, we hear from Geisinger Health System, Dickinson College and Char’s on their efforts to use renewable energy and adopt practices for a cleaner environment.

From left, Char Magaro, Dr. Neil Leary and Alan Neuner.png

From left, Char Magaro, Scott LaMar, Dr. Neil Leary and Alan Neuner

Living with autism; improving awareness and inclusion

autism 2.jpg

What to look for on Smart Talk on Friday, April 19, 2019:

In 2005, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services conducted a census of autistic individuals receiving services in the state and counted nearly 20,000 Pennsylvanians.

Eleven years later, an updated census found that number increased to over 55,000 children, adolescents and adults with autism.

What accounts for that sharp increase and what do the numbers say today?

April is Autism Awareness Month. The world-wide effort promotes awareness and inclusion for people living with the disorder. In the last quarter of a century, a clearer picture has emerged.

  • Approximately 1 in 59 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder in the United States.
  • Boys are four times as likely to diagnosed with autism than girls.
  • Research indicates that genetics are involved in the majority of autism cases.
  • Early diagnosis and intervention can improve learning, communication and social skills.

Appearing on Smart Talk Friday to discuss autism are Dr. Michael Murray, child psychologist and director of Division of Autism Services at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, and the director of the central region for ASERT (Autism Service Education Training); and Melanie and Zach Hartzell, a parent and her 19-year-old son who is living with autism.

Untitled design (1).png

Melanie Hartzell, Zach Hartzell, and Dr. Michael Murray.

Affordable housing in Pennsylvania


What to look for on Smart Talk on Wednesday, April 17, 2019:

The American dream of owning your own home is alive and well. It’s just not a realistic dream for some Americans.

Finding and paying for housing can be a challenge for many people. Comparatively speaking, Pennsylvania is a reasonably-priced place to buy a home. Even the most expensive areas in the state are still more affordable than the average U.S. market.

However, with an average house costing more than $170,000 and the average monthly rent above $1,300, many Pennsylvanians find mortgages or rent stretch their budgets.

Affordability isn’t the only issue impacting housing for Pennsylvanians. Discrimination and accessibility are often impediments, too.

So, what are communities and agencies doing to make housing accessible in the mid-state?

Appearing on Smart Talk Wednesday to discuss housing are Phyllis Chamberlain, Executive Director, Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania; Tim Whelan, Executive Director of the Cumberland County Housing and Redevelopment Authority; Kirk Stoner, Director of Planning in Cumberland County; and Regina Mitchell, Executive Director of the York Housing Authority.


Tim Whelan, Regina Mitchell, and Kirk Stoner

Alzheimer’s research and local Fulbright scholar

Every minute, someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s disease.

It is the sixth leading cause of death in this country, resulting in more deaths than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.

Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that specifically affects parts of the brain that control thought, memory and language. Scientists continue to develop new methods to understand this disease and treat those living with it. One of those scientists is Dr. Keith Fargo, the director of scientific programs and outreach at the Alzheimer’s Association.

Fargo oversees the TrialMatch program: a way for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias to connect with clinical trials.

Joining us on Smart Talk to discuss the TrialMatch program and the impact of Alzheimer’s disease is Dr. Keith Fargo. Also on the program is Clay Jacobs, the Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Pennsylvania Chapter.

Also, a Fulbright Scholarship is hard to get.

With an acceptance rate of around 20 percent, a Fulbright student scholarship attracts the best and brightest applicants from colleges and universities around the country.

A local university student was recently awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study history at the University of Kent, Canterbury, United Kingdom. This is the only award granted there for the 2019-2020 academic year.

Larry Herrold, of Sunbury, is a senior history and religious studies major at Susquehanna University. Herrold joins Smart Talk to discuss his major and the unique direction planned for his studies.