We have updates on some of the issues covered in our first year of reporting including the first city to emerge from Act 47 and new protections for the homeless.
After entering Act 47, the Commonwealth’s program for distressed municipalities, Nanticoke faced a lot of obstacles, including no running water for its public works department, a declining coal industry, massive debt and population loss. Last month, Keystone Crossroads reported that after nine years under Act 47, Nanticoke was on the brink of emerging from state intervention. It happened on Monday, at a special ceremony at Nanticoke City Hall. What made this ceremony extra special is that Nanticoke has the distinction of being the first city to exit Act 47. While nine municipalities, boroughs and townships, have had success leaving the program, it has been more challenging for cities.Homelessness and hope
Pennsylvania cities continue to grapple with the needs of the homeless population. Some have considered regulated tent cities, but no action has been taken. Last August, we met Davina Delor and her neighbors who created their own encampments in the woods outside of Allentown.
A recent decision in Boise puts at least 50 Pennsylvania municipalities on notice that anti-camping ordinances may be considered unconstitutional by criminalizing homelessness.Ideas
Want to dump the cable guy? Cleveland is building its own broadband network by partnering with a nonprofit instead of waiting for an Internet provider to come to town.Imagine a bike rack that can lock up bikes without scraping off paint, and is bendy enough to lock up kids bikes and strollers. With a few tweaks, it might work. (CityLab)Speaking of bikes, Philly is working on a Cycle-Transit plan that would make transit easier for commuters who what to combine their bike and train commute. Want fries with that? (NextCity)What’s the special sauce that makes Mastery Charter so successful in its broadening network of schools? (NewsWorks)
Online voter registration? Lawmakers voted “yes” for Pennsylvania, joining 22 other states. (WITF)Restoration or the wrecking ball?
Are historic theaters worth saving? As reported last June, It depends on a lot of factors, including the size of the town, funding and business opportunities. Bethlehem’s historic Boyd Theatre has remained an empty shell. Moravian College decided it was not viable to purchase, restore and maintain the theater. The city has been able to delay demolition of the theater and is looking for a developer and government grants to save the Boyd. (Lehigh Valley Live)In contrast, Bradford is experiencing a retail rebirth, as new restaurants and shops open. An active Main Street management program helped spur efforts. (The Bradford Era)Despite protests from neighbors, a 1850s house that was purchased by the University of Pennsylvania met the wrecking ball. (PlanPhilly)
State of the state
A Franklin & Marshall poll found that two-thirds of respondents felt that the blame for the stalled budget was the fault of lawmakers, not the governor. (LancasterOnline)When asked by the same survey whether Attorney General Kathleen Kane should resign, Pennsylvanians were less decisive. (PennLive)
Already strapped for cash, the city of Reading faces $900,000 in legal bills defending ethics and city charter complaints against Mayor Vaughn Spencer. (The Reading Eagle)
Field of dreams
Remember last summer’s Little League World Series and Mo’ne Davis, the pitching phenom of the Taney Dragons? Each year Williamsport is transformed and its population swells as the boys and girls of summer take the field. (NewsWorks)Our partners from WITF are happy to report that Red Land is heading to Saturday’s U.S. Little League championship finals. Once again, Pennsylvania represents! (WITF)Have a great weekend!