2018-04-14 / News



Local students join walk-out

Some 35 Cameron County students took part in a nation­wide walk-out held on March 14 in the wake of the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Superintendent Dr. Keith Wolfe reported that the students were accompanied by seven teachers in the high school gymnasium, where names of the 17 victims were read aloud and a moment of silence was observed.

Wolfe said he requested the students remain inside the school during the observance due to concerns regarding their safety if they gathered outside the building during the highly publicized event.


Pitt-Bradford milestone

Fifty-five years have passed since University of Pittsburgh at Bradford opened its doors in 1963, with an enrollment of 150. To­day, the Pitt branch campus has a student count of about 1,500. It generates tens of millions of dollars in economic activity and sup­ports 604 jobs.

Pitt-Bradford expanded from a two-year school that prepared stu­dents for transfer to the main campus in Pittsburgh to a four-year school in its own right with a growing number of bachelor’s degree programs.


But at least I’m ‘working’

Have you ever goofed off at work? A study by a research team found that office distractions eat up 2.1 hours a day for the average worker. That adds up to more than 30 billion hours a year in the U.S., or a loss of more than $600 billion in productivity.

The team goes on to offer several suggestions to help workers stay on task: don’t check every text message, social media post or email instantly when it comes in; be assertive with chatty co-workers, most of whom can relate to what you’re going through if you just come right out and tell them; and be disciplined -- we sometimes fool ourselves into thinking that what we want to do is really what we should be doing, but often the opposite is true.


Work zone safety pointers

An obscure national observance, National Work Zone Safe­ty Awareness Week, concluded on Friday with PennDOT reminding drivers to proceed with caution in construction areas. Some 88 department employees have lost their lives in the line of duty.

PennDOT offered these pointers: slow down; pay close atten­tion to signs and flaggers; use headlights; don’t tailgate, and use four-way flashers when stopped or traveling slowly.


Empathy diminishing among youth

Young adults don’t care about other people nearly as much as they used to. A University of Michigan study shows that, since 2000, college students have become less empathetic. The trend actually dates back about 25 years, researchers say.

“College students today are about 40 percent lower in empathy than their counterparts of yesteryear,” said lead researcher Sara Konrath, whose tests have involved about 14,000 people.

Her team cites media exposure as the leading cause of young adult’s declining concern about others. Exposure to violent media has numbed people to the pain of others. Additionally, because they’re spending more time engaged in recreational use of com­puters, TV programming and gaming, young people spend their remaining time focused on their own concerns and have less time to empathize with others.

Lastly, high schools and colleges now emphasize career goals more than development of a well-rounded person, the research­ers said, which is complemented by “the hyper-competitive at­mosphere and inflated expectations of success fueled by ‘reality’ shows . . . There’s a social movement that works against slowing down and listening to someone who needs help or sympathy.”


Distracted driving now epidemic

From the “It Can’t Happen To Me Department,” the latest figures on traffic crashes attributed to distracted driving are shocking. In Pennsylvania, 16,050 distracted driving crash­es resulted in 69 fatalities during 2016. That was a 52-percent increase over the 2015 crash count.

With pressure growing on the state legislature to respond, House Bill 1684 has been introduced. It would prohibit oper­ating a motor vehicle while making or taking calls on a hand-held mobile phone, except with the use of a hands-free acces­sory. The bill would further prohibit a driver under age 18 from operating a motor vehicle while using any hand-held mobile phone, including a hands-free accessory.

A second measure, House Bill 892, would create an addi­tional summary offense for distracted driving if a driver is also found to be driving carelessly. The fine for distracted driving would be $50.

A wide variety of behaviors are considered to be distracted driving, including using an electronic device, grooming device, food and drink, and printed material.


Easy to be an organ donor

PennDOT is encouraging Pennsylvania drivers to be­come organ donors. Some 44 percent of drivers now have an organ donor designation on their licenses. A new online service allows drivers to sign up as organ donors in about 90 seconds.


Rethinking college

With the local job market changing, there’s a notable trend toward re-evaluating whether a college education is the best option for some young people emerging from area high schools.

Some 64 percent of full-time college students do not earn their four-year degree in the allotted time. Seventy percent of students graduating with four-year degrees owe money on student loans. The average amount owed is $30,100.


Clean water? Maybe not...

Pesticides that are linked to cancer in humans have been found in 95 percent of the nation’s rivers and streams, and in 90 percent of the fish that live there, according to a U.S. Geological Survey study.

Scientists and environmental groups have long warned of the cumulative effect of using chemically-based pesticides to control insects and weeds.

Pesticide use has grown because not only must our explod­ing population be supplied with food, but crops and food are grown for export to other countries. The US has become the largest producer of food products in the world, partly ow­ing to our use of modern pesticides to control the insects, weeds, and other organisms that attack food crops.


Public split on shale gas

Half of Pennsylvanians support the natural gas indus­try, but a new opinion poll shows the number of people con­cerned about its environmental impact is growing

A Franklin & Marshall University poll found that 50 percent of respondents said they support the gas industry; 42 per­cent say they don’t.

Some 55 percent say the environmental risks of shale gas development are greater than its economic benefits. A few years ago, that number was in the 30s.

Ashleigh Deemer from the environmental group PennEnvi­ronment said the poll shows that the public is more skeptical of the industry.

“More Pennsylvanians personally see the impacts of drill­ing on the landscape, truck traffic, and air quality concerns in their own communities,” Deemer said. ”More people now see the costs to quality of life, health, open spaces, and drinking water.”

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