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The Spark


When people come together and talk about really interesting topics, great questions spark better understanding and opportunities for new ideas to form. On The Spark from WITF, hosts Scott LaMar and Aniya Faulcon start the conversations about what’s happening in the world and at home. Share your ideas at


Chambersburg, PA






When people come together and talk about really interesting topics, great questions spark better understanding and opportunities for new ideas to form. On The Spark from WITF, hosts Scott LaMar and Aniya Faulcon start the conversations about what’s happening in the world and at home. Share your ideas at




PCAD offering winter opportunities for community members like YOU

The Pennsylvania College of Art and Design (PCA&D) is breaking traditional educational boundaries with its innovative intergenerational classes and the introduction of Parents + Me art classes scheduled for the winter term. Embracing a unique approach to learning, these programs aim to foster creativity and artistic expression while bringing together individuals from different age groups. The intergenerational classes at PCA&D create a dynamic learning environment by merging students of various ages and backgrounds. This inclusive approach not only encourages the exchange of ideas but also provides a platform for different generations to collaborate and inspire one another. The courses cover a spectrum of artistic disciplines, allowing participants to explore and refine their creative skills under the guidance of experienced instructors. Adding an extra layer of connection, PCA&D is launching Parents + Me art classes this winter, inviting parents to join their children in artistic exploration. This initiative is designed to strengthen familial bonds through shared creative experiences, fostering communication and mutual inspiration. The classes are tailored to accommodate both parents and children, ensuring a harmonious balance between guided learning and personal expression. Both intergenerational and Parents + Me classes at PCA&D exemplify the institution's commitment to cultivating a diverse and inclusive learning community. By providing these distinctive opportunities, the college not only enriches the educational experience but also reinforces the belief that art has the power to bridge generational gaps and create lasting connections. As winter approaches, PCA&D's innovative programs promise a season of collaborative learning and artistic exploration for participants of all ages. Support WITF: See for privacy information.


Millersville U. Junior Ke'Lonni Dawkins talks mental health and taking it easy for college students this winter break

As winter break approaches, college students are being advised to embrace a season of rest and prioritize mental well-being. KeLonni Dawkins, a rising junior at Millersville University, sheds light on the importance of taking it easy during the break and focusing on mental health. Dawkins emphasizes the significance of self-care, urging fellow students to use the winter break as an opportunity to recharge and destress. With the academic pressures of the semester behind them, students are encouraged to engage in activities that bring joy and relaxation, whether it's spending quality time with loved ones, pursuing hobbies, or simply enjoying moments of solitude. The interview with Dawkins highlights the often-overlooked aspect of mental health, especially during a time when societal expectations may pressure students to be constantly productive. Winter break, Dawkins suggests, should be a time for reflection, rejuvenation, and personal growth. Acknowledging the challenges that the academic year might have presented, Dawkins advocates for students to be kind to themselves and recognize the resilience they've shown. By allowing space for introspection and self-compassion, students can pave the way for a healthier mindset as they approach the upcoming semester. In essence, the message from Dawkins and others resonates as a reminder that winter break is more than a hiatus from classes; it's an opportunity for students to prioritize their mental health, find balance, and return to their academic pursuits with a refreshed perspective. As colleges empty for the break, the focus shifts from assignments to individual well-being, marking a crucial period for self-care and personal reflection. Support WITF: See for privacy information.


Adopt a Drill Team Member-Infamous Unstoppables

Vincent Derek Smith, a dedicated community leader, has been making a positive impact for over a decade through his renowned Drill Team, the Infamous Unstoppables. Founded over 10 years ago, this Drill Team has become a beacon of discipline, teamwork, and artistic expression for its members. Smith's commitment to fostering a sense of community and support goes beyond the drill routines. This holiday season, he is organizing an "Adopt-a-Drill Team Member Christmas Gift Drive" to bring joy to the young participants of his team. Recognizing the challenges many families face, especially during the holidays, Smith's initiative aims to ensure that every member of the Drill Team experiences the warmth of the season. The gift drive is a testament to Smith's dedication to not only honing the drill skills of his team but also nurturing their well-being and creating a sense of belonging. As he orchestrates this heartwarming effort, Smith underscores the importance of community support and the role it plays in the holistic development of the young drill team members. Under Smith's leadership, the Infamous Unstoppables have become more than just a performance group—they are a tight-knit community where members find mentorship, guidance, and a second family. The Christmas gift drive reflects Smith's belief in the power of small gestures to make a significant impact on the lives of these young individuals, fostering a sense of unity and care that extends beyond the drill team performances. Support WITF: See for privacy information.


"The General and Julia" is a novel that tells story of Grant's last days

Today, Ulyssis S. Grant is most often remembered for commanding the Union Army that secured the surrender of General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate troops at Appomattox – in effect ending the Civil War. But Grant was much more of course. He was elected president of the United States twice, although historians don’t rank him very highly, was one of the nation’s biggest celebrities in the late 19th Century and an early protector of Civil Rights. He also was swindled out of all his money. His wife Julia came from a Missouri family that owned slaves. She was the love of Grant’s life. Author Jon Clinch's new historical fiction novel called The General and Julia tells the story of Grant's last days and the significant moments in his life. Appearing on The Spark Thursday, Clinch talked of the book's inspiration,"We think of him (Grant) as this silhouette on horseback and on a battlefield. We think of him as that glum looking grumpy character on the $50 bill. We think of him as a guy smoking a cigar or a or a drunk, which it turns out he wasn't. But we think of him in all these ways. But what I took away finally from learning as much as I did early on about him was the tragedy of the last year or so of his life. That period where he had lost everything, he had lost his fortune, such as it was. He lost his money. He lost his standing in many ways. He lost his health. And what he had left was his memory and his ability to write under the worst of circumstances his wonderful memoirs with the idea that by selling them, even after he was gone, his family might be able to pull themselves back together and pull themselves back from the brink of disaster. I thought that was that was the most heroic thing I saw him do." Clinch was asked what he wants readers to take away from the story,"I want us to remember the kindness and the family love that he left behind more than anything else. They were a family, husband and wife, four children, three grandchildren. They were the real deal. He was not the small set of big things that we think of him as being. He was a big set of small things that every human being is. And I wanted to think about that." Support WITF: See for privacy information.


Who Is T.H.E.M The Collective?

In the vibrant arts scene of Pennsylvania, THEM The Collective, a group of exceptionally talented artists, continues to make waves with their captivating performances. Renowned for gracing various stages, their notable appearances include the annual Launch Music Festival in Lancaster, where they have left an indelible mark. The spotlight on THEM The Collective intensifies as they gear up for a two-night performance at the Ephrata Performing Arts Center in February. The event, titled "A Celebration of the Evolution of Black Music," promises to be a mesmerizing showcase of the group's diverse talents and a tribute to the rich tapestry of Black musical contributions. In an exclusive interview, Jeannette Wehye and DeJuan Rosado, key members of the collective, shed light on the upcoming performance and the collective's artistic journey. Their insights provide a glimpse into the passion and dedication that drive THEM The Collective to push artistic boundaries and deliver unforgettable experiences on stage. As anticipation builds for the upcoming event, fans and art enthusiasts alike eagerly await the opportunity to witness THEM The Collective's unique blend of artistry and creativity. The two-night extravaganza at the Ephrata Performing Arts Center is poised to be a celebration of not only Black music but also the collective's enduring impact on the Pennsylvania arts scene. Support WITF: See for privacy information.


Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board commissioned a study to find out

The Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board sets minimum prices for milk in the state. It’s designed to ensure dairy farmers have fair opportunities to sell their product while consumers pay a competitive price. Milk is sold like any other product and the market often determines the price in most states. The Milk Marketing Board wanted to find out what would happen if they dropped minimum pricing and commissioned a study of the issue. Phil Gruber, the News Editor of Lancaster Farming reported on the study and was on The Spark Wednesday where he described what the study found,"We would see maybe a small increase in the amount of milk that Pennsylvanians drink, but that would be more than offset by a pretty serious likely decline in the number of companies bottling milk in the state and in the number of dairy farms." The study found that if there weren't minimum prices on milk, 57% of processors would be at risk of bankruptcy. It's estimated the state would produce 10% less milk. The study concluded the loss of minimum pricing and the aftereffects would cost the state's economy $2.8 billion, eliminating $700 million in wages and 10,000 jobs. Gruber indicated it doesn't appear the system will change,"There was not an imminent decision to do away with with minimum price. Here was something that had been talked about within the industry and disgruntled farmers and things. I would expect minimum pricing to stay around here in Pennsylvania." Support WITF: See for privacy information.


Pennsylvania hills and valleys like Thailand; Is air as dirty?

South Central Pennsylvania has some of the worst air pollution in the country. That may come as a surprise to many when they compare a mostly rural area with lots of suburbs and a few small cities to large urban areas throughout the nation. But almost every measurement of air pollution over the last few years ranks the region or individual metropolitan areas like Lancaster and Harrisburg in the top 10 polluted places in the U.S. Faculty and students at Millersville University are measuring and studying air quality in the in region. It’s a learning experience for the students but can tell us a lot about the air we breathe. On The Spark Tuesday, Dr. Greg Blumberg, an Assistant Professor of Meteorology in Millersville University's Earth Sciences Department compared Central Pennsylvania's topography with many hills and valleys to Thailand, which has the worst air quality in the world. He added that the air in Central Pennsylvania is nowhere near as bad, but the region's topography is a factor in high levels of air pollution. On the program, Blumberg provided an analogy,"I often like to think about a pot of water or even kind of like waffles. When you're looking at places that have terrain, when you're talking about mountains and valleys, the air pollution can act a lot like syrup, where it just kind of falls down into the the valleys where the little divots are on a waffle. And so the Pennsylvania area has a lot of kind of these different valleys where you can get all that pollution settling down. And one of the things that allows air pollution to kind of intensify is if you're not removing that air. And so if you have stagnant conditions where you don't have very strong winds, the sun's not up allowing some of those pollutants to get mixed, then these are the cases where you might see the air quality really get bad over time. And Pennsylvania kind of has a lot of the ingredients for that right now." There are several interstate and heavily traveled highways in our region and Blumberg indicated the vehicle traffic in Central Pennsylvania is a significant contributor to particle or soot pollution. Keelie Steiner, a senior meteorology major at Millersville studies air quality and appeared on The Spark. She described how a changing climate could make air pollution worse,"Some of these traffic admissions that we're steadily studying react very well in warmer temperatures. So, for example, ozone, which is something in the stratosphere. So, our ozone layer that protects us from those harsh UV rays coming from the sun. However, once ozone finds its way down the troposphere, that's something you don't want to be inhaling. So, over the wintertime, those cooler temperatures, those ozone levels aren't going to be as high because that ozone, the chemical bonds aren't breaking and reproducing as frequently. However, once you get to the summer with warmer temperatures, it becomes a rapid reproduction of ozone. So now you have large amounts of ozone finding itself down at the surface level that people are breathing in, and that has relation to some respiratory and cardiovascular issues." Support WITF: See for privacy information.


Does development play a role in in Pa. leading the nation in Lyme disease?

More than 8,400 cases of Lyme disease were confirmed in Pennsylvania last year. That’s the most in the nation. In fact, Pennsylvania has had more Lyme disease cases than any other state in 11 out of the last 12 years. The disease is spread by the black-legged or deer tick. A recent report in SpotlightPA suggested one of the reasons Pennsylvania has more Lyme disease is development and the loss of forest land. Marley Parish is the Rural Affairs Reporter for Spotlight PA and was on The Spark Monday,"Pennsylvania happens to be in a situation where we have a lot of forest land. And the black-legged tick, also called the deer tick, loves forest. It thrives in forests, which have a lot of host options for them -- deer, mice, birds, raccoons, chipmunks, sometimes humans. But something that Pennsylvania has been seeing is its forest land declining for development, typically commercial residential development. Whenever that happens, there are fewer and fewer hosts for ticks. So they are kind of forced to select what they interact with. But that's something that Pennsylvania has been seeing. Since 2019, there's been about 3 million acres of forest land that have declined, mostly for those developments" Parish reported that a Penn State entomologist she spoke with for her story pointed out that ticks don't move once a forested area is cleared -- they adapt, staying in areas that were once forests but are now housing developments or shopping centers. A tick researcher told Parish that half of tick bites in Pennsylvania occur in backyards. Parish quoted her sources as saying development won't stop or slow down because there may be more tick bites or Lyme disease, so it's up to homeowners and Pennsylvanians overall to be aware of ticks and take precautions to protect themselves and pets from tick bites. Support WITF: See for privacy information.


So. Central Pa. road projects got twice the money in 2023 than year before

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation or Penndot’s District 8 is made up of eight counties in South Central Pennsylvania. During the 2023 construction season, $517 million in contracts for new projects were awarded. That’s more than double its 2022 total in contracts. The money from the federal infrastructure had an impact but how much. Kevin Keefe, Penndot District 8 Assistant District Executive for Construction appeared on The Spark Monday with details of the just completed construction season.. Support WITF: See for privacy information.


The Spark Weekly 12/3/2023

Highlights from this past week of shows! Support WITF: See for privacy information.


New trend: drug users mixing multiple substances

“It’s no longer an opioid epidemic – this is an addiction crisis.” That’s a quote from Michigan State University associate professor Dr. Cara Poland in the New York Times. It seems that every few months, there’s a new drug or substance that drug users find to create a better or more potent high. Dr. Asif Ilyas, President of the Rothman Orthopaedic Institute Foundation for Opioid Research and Education was on The Spark Thursday and said drug dealers and manufacturers are mixing multiple substances or drugs into what their customers are buying,"They're trying to modify their product to enhance it as best they see it, to increase sales, unfortunately. And the victims are those who are abusing them. And these individuals don't really know necessarily what are the agents that they are abusing. We've already known for quite some time that the common agents that are being mixed are things such as fentanyl, which is one of the most powerful illicit opioids, Xylazine, also known as tranq, which is essentially a veterinary sedative, and then methamphetamines, which is a stimulant. These are often being mixed with various agents, typically opioids, to increase that high." Ilyas indicated those mixing the drugs aren't skilled at knowing what amount of a substance to put into their product,"They're not necessarily being mindful of the dosages, the concentrations and the purity of what they're mixing. And often times what we're seeing when people pass out because of opioid abuse and illicit drug abuse is because of just that, they thought it was one thing and there was more fentanyl in there than they thought or there was more meth in there than they would have it thought or do. They didn't expect it at all." Dr. Ilyas said education is a major part of stopping drug abuse,"It's about helping the public understand the severity of opioid abuse, drug abuse. We've known this for forever, but there's some real significant effects that happen from it, and it can affect everyone around you, your friends, your family. It doesn't take much to get addicted and start to go down this path. So everything we can do to prevent it, to support people that are showing signs of it, and then to help people who have addiction to seek appropriate care so that it doesn't manifest into more severe problems for the individual." Support WITF: See for privacy information.


How do students overcome barriers to learning like hunger, homelessness?

Homelessness, food insecurity, exposure to violence, and access to healthcare – all barriers to young people learning in school. Kids living in poverty is behind many of these challenges. These all issues that schools deal with in providing an education to students. Communities in Schools in Pennsylvania provides what are called "wraparound services to students and schools. The organization's Vice President Lyndsey Sturkey was on Thursday who explained what wraparound services are,"They're just a holistic approach to addressing barriers that students may be facing, particularly outside of school, that's hindering or having a negative impact on their ability to come to school, either ready to learn or continue through through the grades." Communities In Schools offers services including mental health counseling, after-school programs, access to nutritious meals, and housing assistance. The organization says that by addressing students’ basic needs, they create a more stable foundation for learning, allowing them to focus on their education. Sturkey pointed out that they use an online tool called the from the Pennsylvania Department of Education to identify schools that could use their services. Often, those are school districts where there is a larger percentage of students living in poverty or Title 1,"It will give you information on every school district, every school in the entire state. So you can look at standardized test scores over a couple of years. You can look at their socioeconomic breakdown, where kids are coming from, how many kids are in each school, for example. So that's typically where we start -- a lot of the schools that we work with our Title One. So we'll kind of look at which districts may have a lot of Title One. We will also look of where they are geographically. Are they nearby another district where we already work?" Support WITF: See for privacy information.


Cost of textbooks, course materials impacting Pa. college students

Aired; November 29th, 2023 When determining what college will cost, the first thing many students and their families look at is what the tuition price tag is for a college or university and maybe add room and board into the equation as well. What sometimes is down on their list of expenses is the cost of textbooks and other course materials. Those costs can run into the hundreds of dollars and maybe more . A new survey of Pennsylvania college students for Affordable Learning PA and the Partnership for Academic Library Collaboration and Innovation finds that nearly half of students are worried about textbook costs and a third say they go without course materials because of the cost. California-based Bay View Analytics conducted the survey. On The Spark Wednesday researcher Julia Seaman, told us,"We wanted to know how much the course materials cost. So we have some information about that and then what the impacts were, both at the small scale so that the course level, like if you can't afford materials, does that mean you're failing the course, getting poor grades or at the larger scale? This actually had a bigger impact on their academic choices, which very surprisingly we saw that it does really impact student choices. One of our biggest surprises for me was that the cost of course materials has impacted students choice of their minor, their major and the majority have said it's impacted their choice of an institution that they chose to go to." Key findings from the Pennsylvania-focused survey include: Seaman added that students and their families aren't often thinking about textbook and course material costs before taking a course, and part of the reason is it's a challenge to pin down those costs,"Your costs aren't part of that tuition bill that shows up, aren't part of the enrollment information because it is highly dependent on the courses that the students take. And then also those choices are made by faculty, often semester by semester. So you don't know ahead of time what that course may require. One thing I want to make sure is while you normally think about as a textbook, this is now actually including a lot more than just the textbook. If you're in a science course, you could be including all the lab fees, all the art fees if you're doing any art courses. So of course, material cost, while it does include the textbook and required textbooks, are the most common course, it is incorporating everything around that. And it's a lot of things that you don't really know until you're at that course. And it may not be that expensive for one course. But remember, students are full time most of the time, and they're taking 4 to 6 courses and each one of those may have 90 to $100 worth. Of course, material costs." Seaman was asked why this matters,"If it starts out with a student can't afford a textbook, that generally means they're also potentially choosing cost issues around housing or food or other quality of life issues as well as if they're not having the textbook, then they're not learning that specific course. They may not be able to pass the course. We find that 15% of students said they failed the course because of the costs, which then could potentially mean they have to retake it, change their major. So having the rolling impact to just get bigger and bigger and potentially that could mean the data for the class at the materials and freshman year. So now it takes them 5 or 6 years to graduate or they might drop out anyways because they couldn't afford the costs." Support WITF: See for privacy information.


Updated: Fmr. Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar discusses elections security with new business venture: Athena Strategies

Kathy Boockvar gained national attention during the 2020 United States presidential election as Pennsylvania became a focal point of scrutiny and legal challenges. Boockvar's work and decisions were central to the election process in the Pennsylvania. She is currently serving as the President of Athena Strategies LLC, which has emerged as a key figure in fortifying election security and promoting democratic values in the United States. In her role at Athena Strategies, Boockvar collaborates with a diverse range of organizations, government officials, and academic institutions. Her focus is on strengthening election security measures, fostering a deeper understanding of the electoral process, and nurturing civil discourse surrounding elections. Boockvar's wealth of experience includes her tenure as the Pennsylvania Secretary of State, where she served as the chief election official. In this role, she led the Department of State in implementing measures to ensure secure and resilient elections. Her commitment extended beyond elections, encompassing initiatives to safeguard public health and safety through professional licensure, as well as supporting economic development efforts. With a comprehensive background in election administration, Boockvar brings a nuanced perspective to the broader discourse on democracy and electoral processes. Her work at Athena Strategies reflects a dedication to building robust systems that uphold the integrity of elections, fostering civic engagement, and contributing to the overall well-being of democratic institutions in the United States. Support WITF: See for privacy information.


Rachael K. Williams and her SOAL team continue to revitalize Lincoln Cemetery after decades of neglect

In a poignant and transformative journey, Rachael K. Williams embarked on a mission to restore the historic Lincoln Cemetery in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the final resting place of over 107 Black Civil War Veterans, a Revolutionary War Veteran, a Mexican War Veteran, and numerous influential figures from Harrisburg's Black community. Williams, tracing the footsteps of her formerly enslaved ancestors who sought refuge in Harrisburg during the Civil War, discovered the cemetery in a state of disrepair, with sinking and broken grave markers and mounds of fresh dirt suggesting neglect. Upon returning to Buffalo, New York, Williams encountered legal barriers, as Pennsylvania lacked effective laws protecting cemeteries. Undeterred, she founded SOAL: Saving Our Ancestors' Legacy in June 2021. This descendant-led nonprofit aims to restore Lincoln Cemetery through volunteer-based conservation and preservation efforts, public history research, and digital humanities initiatives. Lincoln Cemetery, established in 1877, holds the legacies of Harrisburg's early Black leaders, including Underground Railroad activists, politicians, educators, and civil rights pioneers. SOAL's formation marks a crucial step in honoring and preserving this vital piece of African American history, ensuring that the contributions and stories of those buried in Lincoln Cemetery endure for future generations. Williams' commitment reflects a powerful dedication to rectifying historical neglect and ensuring the lasting legacy of those who shaped Harrisburg's vibrant Black community. Support WITF: See for privacy information.


How to keep live Christmas trees, poinsettias and Christmas Cactus healthy

It’s almost December and the plants many people are thinking about are red and green – Christmas trees and poinsettias. Horticulturist Erica Jo Shaffer was on The Spark Tuesday and said watering a real tree is very important,"It usually takes two or three days for the tree to start drinking and then suddenly it really starts drinking. So you would get your tree, you would shake it, make sure a lot of needles aren't going off, whatever stand you've got. And then it should be in water within an hour or two after they put a fresh cut on. They should take off about an inch and then it's going to be ready to drink. But then you need to get it in water. Even if you're not ready to set it up, then stick it in a bucket of water so that that cut is in water. And then follow it every couple of days or every day (with water)." What if a family opts for a potted Christmas tree,"Potted Christmas trees are a good idea, especially for people who don't want to cut one and they don't want artificial. And if you've got the space to plant it afterwards, the trick on that is they are right now going into dormancy and all the plants are. So, if you buy a potted tree and then bring it into your 70 degree house for three weeks or a month, it's going to wake it back up. And then you're going to throw it out in 20 degree temperatures and that's most likely going to kill it. You're going to want to bring it in only for 3 to 5 days. You don't even water it before you brought it in and then you don't water it again until you take it out. It's a good idea to have the hole dug already because that way if the grounds frozen and your hole is already dug, you could put the the soil that you took out of the hole and take it in the garage so it's not frozen. Make sure it's at the right depth. A lot of times the tree is too deep in the root ball too. The trunk stops, the roots start. That needs to be ground level." Shaffer said stores and holiday customers make mistakes when it comes to poinsettias, "They're tropical plants so don't put your poinsettia near your front door that every time you open (the door) and it gets a cold blast." Poinsettia pots are often wrapped in foil and Shaffer said that's not good for them,"When you water it, that water gets trapped in, and they'll immediately start to root rot. And then they start wilting because they can't drink water. And then you give them more water. And totally drown them. So that would be another quick way to kill your poinsettia." . Support WITF: See for privacy information.


Historic Harrisburg celebrates 50 years of historic preservation

Fifty-years-ago, preserving history usually meant protecting historic sites where the big moments in history occurred. But in the 1970s – a new movement took hold and gained momentum -- historic preservation. It meant preserving or remembering what made a place special – like its buildings, landscapes or objects. The Historic Harrisburg Association was founded in 1973 to promote historic preservation, urban revitalization, and smart growth. Historic Harrisburg’s Executive Director David Morrison was with us on The Spark Monday, who said attitudes toward historic preservation have changed over the past five decades,"I think certainly 50 years ago when the preservation movement was really getting underway nationally and here in Harrisburg, a lot of people saw preservation as sort of an impediment to progress. And as time went on, and partly through the messaging that Historic Harrisburg has done, people have begun to see it as a positive force. And really a lot of the great things that have happened in Harrisburg have been through historic preservation and some of the things that we've been encouraging, whether it's by large developers or projects initiated by the city itself or individual homeowners, all of that has a positive impact." Morrison was asked what have been a few of Historic Harrisburg's most tangible successes,"The Tracy Mansion, which later was Char's restaurant, Char Magaro, that was slated to be demolished, as well as Shipoke (after the 1972 Agnes flood). Several other front street mansions where were slated for demolition and historic Harrisburg, my predecessors really fought back and won those battles one way or another." Morrison pointed to restoration of the Brick Market House at the Broad Street Market that was destroyed by fire earlier this year and possible other uses for William Penn high School as preservation priorities. Support WITF: See for privacy information.


Poll show Pennsylvanians delay treatments because of healthcare costs; Have medical debt

The two biggest expenses most Americans have traditionally faced is a mortgage or rent and a vehicle. It looks like the cost of healthcare can added to the list of largest debts for many. Results of a statewide poll released last week finds 57% of Pennsylvanians say they struggle with affording medial care and half are delaying or avoiding medical care due to its cost. Other results of the poll include: Joining us on The Spark Monday were Antoinette Kraus, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network and Laura Smith of Allegheny County, who survived cancer and the removal of a tumor but faced medical bills she couldn't afford afterwards. Support WITF: See for privacy information.


What questions do Pennsylvania motorists have about rules of the road?

More Americans travel over the Thanksgiving weekend than any other period of the year. They’ll be going to family gatherings for the holiday, college students are returning home over break, and in Pennsylvania, many deer hunters are heading to camp. Most of the travelers will be driving. Traffic is already heavier on some highways than usual. There’s no doubt that some of us will asked ourselves whether we’re following the laws or protocols of the road. More likely though, we’ll be critical of another driver. On The Spark, we take this timely opportunity to talk about rules of the road – answering questions about what’s safe, what’s legal, what’s not and how to be better drivers. Joining us on the program Wednesday were Lt. Adam Reed, Director of the Communications Office for the Pennsylvania State Police and Fritzi Schreffler, Safety Press Officer with District 8 Penndot. Schreffler said that motorists should be on the lookout for deer this weekend and this time of year overall,"I think people forget it's rutting season. They're (the deer) all looking for a mate right now. So they're not paying attention or whether they're running across the road. But also hunting season is upon us. The farmers are clearing out their fields, and that's the area where they like to hang out. And the more construction, the more development that we have. They're losing their habitat." State Farm Insurance has these tips for avoiding a collision with a deer: Lt. Reed said the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is one of the biggest party nights of the year and as a result, stopping drunk driving is a priority,"Thanksgiving weekend, really through the holidays, but specifically, Thanksgiving weekend is a very DUI focused weekend for PSP. In addition to enforcing and being present with the increased traffic volumes. Our troopers are also going to have special details out there, checkpoints out there on the lookout specifically for impaired drivers." Support WITF: See for privacy information.


Would JFK have gone to Dallas if he went to Gettysburg in 1963?

November 22nd, 1963 – 60 years ago today, President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed while riding in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas. It was one of the defining moments of the 20th century. During that week in November, 1963, there was an observance of another seminal moment in American history – the 100th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. President Kennedy was invited to speak in Gettysburg, but declined and went to Dallas later in the week. On The Spark Wednesday we talked about that week in 1963 in Gettysburg, documents that survive and Kennedy and Gettysburg. Appearing on the program, Jill Ogline Titus, Associate Director of the Civil War Institute, Co-Coordinator of Public History Minor at Gettysburg College and author of the book Gettysburg 1963 Civil Rights, Cold War Politics, and Historical Memory in America's Most Famous Small Town, said Kennedy could have chosen to attend both the commemoration of the Gettysburg Address and gone to Dallas as well,"The Gettysburg Centennial Commission did invite Kennedy to come for the anniversary and the the anniversary commemoration wasn't just the (November) 19th. The events really spanned from the 17th through the 19th. There were a few more things on the 20th, and the invitation to Kennedy was to speak on the 19th itself. But there were a number of other activities that the Commission would have loved to have him involved in if he had been here for longer than just the 19th. That it's definitely true that people involved with the commemoration, as soon as word of the assassination reached them, immediately drew the conclusion that if Kennedy had come, his life would have been saved. They wrote about that very extensively. You know, if President Kennedy had only accepted our invitation, he'd still be alive and the country would have been spared this this horrible tragedy. But I think the documentation shows us that it's not quite that much of a black and white issue." Titus indicated that Kennedy went to Texas because there was a political feud amongst Democrats on the state level and Kennedy wanted to shore up support in an important state in the 1964 election. Andrew Dalton, Executive Director of the Adams County Historical Society said on The Spark that documents in the Historical Society's archives include plans for President Kennedy if he came to Gettysburg, but he added those plans included someone who had a significant role after the president was killed,"It's actually just very kind of hastily put together notes from a meeting that was held, sort of a memo that was created based on this meeting held on September 5th, 1963, between Louis Simon, who was the secretary of the planning committee here in Gettysburg, and Malcolm Kilduff, who was the assistant press secretary. I just wanted to point out, I didn't know this until a few hours ago, but Malcolm Kilduff ended up going to Dallas with Kennedy a few days after and was actually the acting press secretary there with Kennedy. He was in, I think the third car of the motorcade that went to the hospital. He was actually the man who informed Lyndon Johnson that Kennedy had died. He gave the statement in front of TV cameras to the press and then actually recorded the oath of office on the plane when Johnson was sworn in. So this guy, just a few days later, is right there on the front lines of what was going on in Dallas. But fast rewind 78 days and you have this meeting in the press office at the White House between the folks in Gettysburg and Kilduff." The document Dalton referred to (see below) included logistical questions about Kennedy's time in Gettysburg and the activities surrounding the 100th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. One question from the White House was whether Kennedy would ride in a car through the streets of Gettysburg to the National Cemetery, where Kennedy would speak, or if there was a place for a helicopter to land closer to the cemetery. Dalton speculated there...