In case you missed it: This week’s good reads about Pennsylvania cities

     A line forms over the lunch hour at a minimart in Pittsburgh to purchase a chance at the record $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

    A line forms over the lunch hour at a minimart in Pittsburgh to purchase a chance at the record $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

    From the farm show to the Knight Cities Challenge to the Powerball, this was a week for winners.

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    Big winners

    Question of the week: what would you do if you won the $1.5 billion Powerball?

    Montgomery County sheriff Sean Kilkenny might quit one of his — wait for it — six other jobs. While he is legally allowed to be sheriff while serving as solicitor for six boroughs, a lotto win might allow him to spend a bit more time with the family.

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    On Tuesday, the Knight Foundation announced the finalists in their Knight Cities Challenge. The competition asks, “what’s your best idea to make cities more successful?” There are 20 Philadelphia-based finalists and three from State College.

    This is the second year that the challenge has been issued. Philadelphia was a big winner in 2015 as well. We checked in with those projects to see how they are coming along.

    Budget: impasse or passed?

    Is the state budget impasse over? Once again, folks in Harrisburg are having a hard time agreeing. The house GOP spokesman Steve Miskin says yes. But Governor Wolf’s spokesman Jeff Sheridan takes a different view: “That’s one of the more ridiculous things I’ve heard.”

    While they argue semantics, state money has started to flow to schools and social service agencies. But the six-month hold-up may cause problems into the future.

    Community colleges had to take loans — which come with interest — and some saw their credit ratings downgraded. And hospitals stand to lose up to $36 million in state funds and federal matching dollars.


    Our One Street series travels along residential streets that cuts through Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Scranton.

    Take Montgomery Ave. in Philadelphia: depending on what neighborhood you’re in, the street looks very different. Peek inside four houses with our video series.

    Does it ever feel like the traffic lights are turning red just for you? Some cities are trying adaptive signals that respond to the flow of traffic. Lights stay green longer during rush hour or don’t make you sit at a red when there is no one else around.

    Public transit meets the public

    If you don’t want to wait for adaptive signals to take off, may we suggest the train? According to PlanPhilly, the Federal Railroad Administration has big plans for the Northeast Corridor. The most ambitious idea is bringing high-speed rail to the entire route for an impressive $308 billion. There are other, less expensive options for upgrades, but even the “no action” plan would cost a few billion to get the trains and tracks up to snuff.

    CityLab reports that a comprehensive plan to bring public transit to West Baltimore has been traded for a blight-fighting project. Advocates for the poor, mostly African American area of the city say the new transit line would connect residents with job centers. It was making progress, but the new governor of Maryland has a different plan in mind.

    New year, old scandals

    As we’ve reported, there is an ongoing FBI investigation in Reading and Allentown into the connection between campaign contributions and city contracts.

    Reading has a new mayor and, ostensibly, a fresh start. But Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski is still in office and the investigation is heating up around him again. The Morning Call reports that former city controller Mary Ellen Koval plead guilty this week to fraud after lying to the FBI out of “panic and a misguided sense of loyalty.” She’s the third city official to be charged.

    Harrisburg is involved in their own controversy: the NRA versus the mayor. In February, the city hosts the Great American Outdoor Show, hosted by the NRA. A broken promise (or a misunderstanding, depending on who you ask) has led the city to pull police support from the show.

    Country meets city

    Harrisburg is currently playing host to a bigger, albeit less controversial event: the 100th annual Pennsylvania Farm Show. The largest indoor agricultural show in the country, the Farm Show sees at least half a million visitors a year (plus a couple thousand animals).

    But that’s no problem for Pennsylvania cities, whether they’re hosting the Pope, Little Leaguers or local celebrity Punxsutawney Phil.

    Whether you’re at the Farm Show, taking a train trip or shoveling out your car, have a great weekend.

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