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.

Raising minimum salaries for PA teachers and property taxes explained

The minimum yearly salary for public school teachers in Pennsylvania hasn’t increased since 1988, when it was set at $18,500.

In his 2019 budget proposal, Gov. Tom Wolf proposed raising the minimum salary for teachers to $45,000 annually. If approved, it would increase the salaries of about 3,000 teachers working in 180 school districts. The average teacher in Pennsylvania is paid $67,000 a year.

The Wolf Administration estimates the higher minimum would cost about $14 million to bring the salaries of those making less than $45,000 up to that level. There have been suggestions that that estimate is low. Other objections have centered on the impact higher salaries would have on rural school districts who generally have less money and whether there would be a ripple effect of increasing all teacher salaries.

Appearing on Monday’s Smart Talk to discuss increasing the minimum salary for teachers is Chris Lilienthal PSEA Assistant Director of Communications, Pennsylvania State Education Association. Also with us is Hannah Barrick, Director of Advocacy, Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials.
Also, it seems fitting that the quote ‘In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes,’ is attributed to Benjamin Franklin, a famous Pennsylvanian. It would seem more appropriate if the quote specified property taxes, because these taxes seem to get the most attention.’s The Listening Post takes on a reader’s question, “what keeps these taxes in force.”

PA Post reporter Ed Mahon joins Smart Talk to discuss why school property taxes are so hard to kill.

What are Pennsylvanians thinking about the issues?

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What to look for on Smart Talk Monday, April 1, 2019:

The latest Franklin and Marshall College statewide poll was released late last week and it shows Pennsylvanians support legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes and favor raising Pennsylvania’s minimum wage. Half like what Gov. Tom Wolf is doing in office and a third believe President Trump deserves re-election.

The issue that matters most to Pennsylvanians right now? Taxes by a small percentage over education although voters say increasing state funding for public education should be a priority in answer to another question.

So what does it all mean? What opinions have changed or shown the greatest shift in recent years?

On Monday’s Smart Talk, we’re joined by Dr. G. Terry Madonna, Professor of Public Affairs and Director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs, political analyst and pollster at Franklin & Marshall College to break it all down.

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Dr. G. Terry Madonna, Professor of Public Affairs and Director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs, political analyst and pollster with Smart Talk host Scott LaMar.

Heart condition strikes the young and traveling exhibit highlights LGBTQ+ struggle

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Peyton Walker (L), The Peyton Walker Foundation has donated over 60 AEDs to schools, athletic organizations, nonprofit public venues, and police departments. Photos courtesy of The Peyton Walker Foundation.

What to look for on Smart Talk on Wednesday, March 27, 2019:

Young people and young athletes are dying every day from a little-known threat; Sudden Cardiac Arrest.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest is not a heart attack. It is the sudden onset of an abnormal and potentially fatal heart rhythm that causes the heart to beat ineffectively or not at all.

The most frightening aspect of SCA is that it will often happen without warning, and usually causes death if not treated within minutes.

The Walker family knows the devastation of SCA, firsthand. They lost daughter Peyton Walker in 2013 at the age of 19 due to SCA.

Sadly, their experience is not uncommon. There have been three reported deaths of young people from central Pennsylvania in the past two months, alone.

The Walker family hopes to save lives and save other families the devastation of this condition through the Peyton Walker Foundation.

Appearing on Smart Talk Wednesday to talk about their efforts is Julie Walker, Peyton’s mom and executive director of The Peyton Walker Foundation and Dr. Mike Bosak, Interventional Cardiologist and UPMC Pinnacle Director of Cardiovascular Quality Assurance.

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The Peyton Walker Foundation hosts free heart screenings for students ages 12-19 years old throughout the Central Pennsylvania area. Students receive a vitals check, get checked for heart murmurs and also receive an electrocardiogram (EKG). Photo courtesy of The Peyton Walker Foundation.

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The Peyton Walker Foundation conducts training on how to perform adult and child CPR, use an AED (Automated External Defibrillator), and basic first aid. Photo courtesy of The Peyton Walker Foundation.

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Dr. Mike Bosak, Interventional Cardiologist and UPMC Pinnacle Director of Cardiovascular Quality Assurance, and Julie Walker, Peyton’s mom and executive director of the Peyton Walker Foundation.

Also, 50 years ago the LGBTQ+ community experienced a seminal event in their progress toward equality. Police in NYC raided a Greenwich Village neighborhood bar called the Stonewall Inn. The bar was frequented by members of the LGBTQ community and in the days that followed there were a succession of violent demonstrations challenging the police action. The “Stonewall Riots” are widely considered the flashpoint to the gay rights movement.

A traveling history exhibit highlighting this, and the efforts of activists, is now showing throughout Pennsylvania. The Long Road to LGBTQ+ Equality in Pennsylvania is sponsored by the PA LGBT History Network.

Joining Smart Talk to discuss the exhibit and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots are Barry Loveland, Chair, LGBT History Project and Mary Nancarrow, LGBT Community Activist who helped to pass the Harrisburg non-discrimination ordinance.


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Barry Loveland, Chair, LGBT History Project and Mary Nancarrow, LGBT Community Activist.

Franklin & Marshall College President

What to look for on Smart Talk Tuesday, March 26, 2019:

WITF’s Smart Talk program often introduces newly appointed college and university presidents to the central Pennsylvania community soon after they are appointed or take office.

On Tuesday’s Smart Talk, we meet Barbara Altmann, who became the 16th president at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster last summer. Altmann is the first woman to serve as president in the school’s history. She joins several other universities and colleges across Pennsylvania with female presidents.

We’ll talk with President Altmann about her vision for F&M, liberal arts education in today’s world, how students are being prepared for today’s (and tomorrow’s) workforce and college affordability. Franklin and Marshall has historically taken a leadership role in the Lancaster community and we’ll discuss that topic with Dr. Altmann, as well.

Altmann has helped F&M launch the “Now to Next” campaign, which plans to raise $200 million by 2021 to fund student aid, research, and the construction of a new visual arts center.

Dickinson College’s slavery connection and solving food insecurity, one garden at a time

What to look for on Smart Talk, Friday, March 22, 2019:

Dickinson College’s relationship to slavery is a complicated one. Even before emancipation, students enrolled at Dickinson came from both Southern and Northern states. This made for a vigorous debate that reflected the opinions of the country.

Today, Dickinson College is using their history to frame a discussion on the Civil War and Reconstruction for other classrooms.

It’s called The House Divided Project and one exhibit shines a light on Dickinson’s personal link to slavery.

“Dickinson and Slavery” examines the College’s connection to slavery, before the Civil War and after, through the stories of founders and former slaves who have impacted the school.
Appearing on Smart Talk Friday to discuss the stories of former slaves who helped shape Dickinson College are Matthew Pinsker, History professor, and Director of House Divided Project, Cooper Wingert, junior History major and Amanda Donoghue, senior History major.
Also, do you know when your next meal will come?

Food insecurity means living without consistent access to enough nutritious food to lead an active life. There are millions of people living with this reality in America today.

Bucknell and Susquehanna Universities are collaborating on a project to draw attention to the problem and offer a local solution, one garden at a time.

Joining us on Smart Talk to discuss the “Sowing Change” project are Pam Frontino, Assistant Director of Civic Engagement at Susquehanna University, and Kyle Bray, Assistant Director of Service-Learning at Bucknell University.

Tickborne illness on the rise and is the drinking water safe in schools?

What to look for on Smart Talk Monday, March 25, 2019:
The reported cases of tickborne disease in the United States are on the rise.

Illnesses like Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis and Lyme Disease are becoming more prevalent. So, the Department of Health is acting to assess the risk across Pennsylvania.

The survey began in July 2018 and is taking place in every county in Pennsylvania. The surveillance is happening during all four seasons of the year in order to collect data from ticks throughout their life-cycle.

The survey tracks habitats, their life stages and activity levels. They will also test for human pathogenic diseases, like Lyme.

Lyme is by far the most prevalent tickborne disease with more than forty-thousand cases reported in the U.S. in 2017. Most new cases occur in the Upper Midwest and Northeast, including Pennsylvania.

Common Lyme indicators include flu-like symptoms, swollen lymph nodes and often a ring-shaped rash. (CDC reference manual)

Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss the surveillance program is Matt Helwig, water program specialist with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
Also, how safe is the drinking water in Pennsylvania schools?

PennEnvironment is issuing a report on Tuesday at the Capitol that they say highlights the need for legislative action.

Joining Smart Talk to discuss drinking water safety in our schools is Pennsylvania Stephanie Wein, Clean Water & Conservation Advocate, PennEnvironment.

William Penn’s life and the case for female superheroes

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What to look for on Smart Talk Friday, March 8, 2019:

Sunday is Charter Day in Pennsylvania — marking the day when the Commonwealth’s founder William Penn obtained a charter in 1681 for territory that would be known as Pennsylvania from the King of England.

Most Pennsylvanians learned in history classes that Penn was looking to establish a place in the New World for religious freedom — especially for Quakers who were persecuted for their religious beliefs in Great Britain. However, most don’t know much else about Penn who was a businessman, prolific writer and was in debt most of his life.

On Friday’s Smart Talk, we learn more about Pennsylvania’s founder from Andrew Murphy, author of the new book William Penn: A Life.

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Smart Talk host Scott LaMar with the book William Penn: A Life, by Professor Andrew Murphy.

Also, when it comes to superpowers, closing the ‘confidence gap’ is probably a female superhero’s greatest strength.

It’s true that most superheroes are male, but a recent study showed that when a Super is female the impact on young girls is measurable.

Cat woman, Black Widow and Supergirl are known to most, and soon Carol Danvers (aka Captain Marvel) will explode onto the scene.

What will happen when Marvel’s ‘mightiest Avenger” makes her debut?

Joining us on Smart Talk to make the case for female supers is Dr. Melissa Wehler, Ph.D., Dean of Humanities and Sciences at Central Penn College. Wehler publishes on topics such as feminism, performance and the explosion of strong female characters in popular culture.

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Dr. Melissa Wehler, Ph.D., Dean of Humanities and Sciences at Central Penn College.

Recreation gets funding commitment and carbon credits for woodlands?


What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, March 6, 2019:

Americans enjoy outdoor recreation. Pennsylvania, in particular, is a natural playground to “pursue your happiness.” Activities like biking, hiking, skiing are unlimited.

The federal government established the Land and Water Conservation Fund 50 years ago to preserve and protect recreational opportunities. That fund created a network of open spaces for Americans to hunt, fish, hike, swim, and play.

The funding expired last year without a long-term solution for authorization, until Congress recently approved the Natural Resources Management Act. However, the reauthorization bill still awaits President Trump’s approval.

What does this mean for conservation and recreation programs in Pennsylvania?

Appearing on Thursday’s Smart Talk to discuss the LWCF impact are Cindy Adams Dunn, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Lauren Imgrund, Deputy Secretary for Conservation and Technical Services. Imgrund is also the President of the National Association of Outdoor Recreation Liaison Officers, which is comprised of the state managers of the LWCF state and local assistance program.

Also, the nearly 17 million forested acres in Pennsylvania provide many benefits to the state: economic, social, and ecological.

Most of the forests are privately owned and The Nature Conservancy is helping landowners maximize their land investment through a program called Working Woodlands.

Joining us on Thursday’s Smart Talk to discuss how landowners can conserve their forests while generating revenue at the same time is Josh Parrish, Working Woodlands Program Director, The Nature Conservancy.

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Lauren Imgrund, Cindy Adams Dunn, and Josh Parrish

Industrial Hemp is creating a buzz in PA



What to look for on Smart Talk, Tuesday, March 5, 2019:

Industrial hemp is creating quite a buzz in Pennsylvania and around the country.

Touted as America’s “next big cash crop,’ the 2018 Farm Bill fully legalizes the cultivation of hemp–and farmers are taking notice.

Industrial hemp has a long history in the U.S. as a textile. It was also a common crop in Pennsylvania, mainly produced for rope and sailcloth before the invention of lighter synthetics.

Modern uses for industrial hemp are expansive. Products ranging from clothing to compression moldings — food products to biofuel.

The applications for industrial hemp are seemingly unlimited. So, why has it taken the government so long to remove the barriers?

Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss how Pennsylvania growers are responding to the opportunity are Alyssa A. Collins, Ph.D., Director, Penn State extension Southeast Agricultural Research & Extension Center, Mark O’Neill, communications director with the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and grower Scott Brown of Brown Hill Farms in Wyoming County.

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Dr. Alyssa Collins and Mark O’Neill