Some handy tips for fending off cabin fever | Five for the Weekend

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Happy Weekend, all.

Cabin fever season is here, and during a pandemic, no less.

To combat the winter blues, I made a short list of things to do and places to go across the state that could help fend off cabin fever this weekend.

A change in scenery

As always, the Top 5 Most-Read Stories from this week are below.

Enjoy your weekend,
Cassie Miller, Associate Editor

1. Fayette County was already struggling. Now the pandemic could break it | Mark O’Keefe

From the late 1890s until the early 1950s, Fayette County, which sits deep in the heart of southwestern Pennsylvania, was at the center of the nation’s coal and coke industries.

Stretching from about 35 miles south of Pittsburgh to the West Virginia border, the county’s population grew from 55,842 people in 1880 to 188,104 by 1920.

Its population peaked at 200,000, but with the coal and coke industries’ demise, people left the county in droves, and its economy never recovered.

The county’s population dropped to an estimated 129,274 last year, declining 40,000 or almost 25 percent since 1960. The last time the county had so few people was somewhere around 1905.

Meanwhile, the number of poor people in the county has risen over the years. According to the 2010 Census Bureau, the county was second to last among Pennsylvania’s 67 counties in per capita income, household median income, and family median income.

2. Live Coverage: Pro-Trump protest at the Pa. Capitol

Stay here all day for continuous coverage from the Pennsylvania Capital-Star and across the States Newsroom network of protests at state capitols nationwide.

3. Scranton Joe? Biden gets heat for inaugural celebration with union-busting law firm

Joe Biden’s presidential run began in a Pittsburgh union hall. He’ll ring in the start of his presidency with a virtual event hosted by a law firm that was hired to bust a union drive in Pittsburgh.

Ballard Spahr, a firm that advertises “union avoidance training and counseling” on its website, is hosting “Biden’s Home States” virtual inaugural event Wednesday, with both the Pennsylvania and Delaware Democratic parties.

The sponsorship by Ballard Spahr, a national law firm whose employees have donated $2.3 million to Democrats since 2016, seems to run counter to the bold pro-organized labor words Biden often uttered on the campaign trail.

Scranton-born, and Wilmington-raised, Biden ran and beat outgoing President Donald Trump in part on his image as a blue-collar man who fights for working people.

Biden used that message throughout the campaign, including a promise to “be the most pro-union president you’ve ever seen” on the eve of Election Day — a statement also uttered in western Pennsylvania.

4. Dozens of labor leaders, advocates call on lawmakers to drop judicial gerrymandering plan | Tuesday Morning Coffee

In an extraordinary joint letter to the General Assembly, scores of labor unions, good government groups and progressive advocacy organizations are hitting back against a controversial change to the way Pennsylvania elects its appellate court judges, arguing that it’s a “massive threat to the independence of our judiciary.”

Last week, in a flurry of votes, state House committees advanced a half-dozen proposed constitutional amendments. Among them was a proposed revision that would require appellate judges, who now run statewide, to run in judicial districts, just like state lawmakers and members of Congress.

As the Capital-Star’s Stephen Caruso has reported, the proposal’s sponsor, Rep. Russ Diamond, R-Lebanon, said the amendment would geographically balance the state’s high courts.

Opponents argue that by changing the electorate for justices from every voter in Pennsylvania, a swingy purple state, to voters in districts drawn by the Republican-controlled Legislature, the General Assembly could effectively gerrymander the courts in their favor.

5. Pa. state Sen. David Arnold has died of brain cancer, officials announce

State Sen. David Arnold, a Lebanon County Republican, and former elected district attorney, has died, his office announced in a statement on Sunday morning:

“It is with heavy hearts that the family and staff of Senator David J. Arnold, Jr., announce the end of his battle with brain cancer on Sunday, January 17, 2021.

“Senator Arnold passed away peacefully at home with his wife and daughter by his side. In lieu of flowers, Senator Arnold’s family has requested that contributions may be directed to the Penn State Cancer Institute in his honor. Checks can be made payable to Penn State University, and should include “Brain Cancer Institute Research” in the memo line.

“Please mail contributions to the Office of University Development, 1249 Cocoa Ave, Suite 115, P.O. Box 852, Hershey, PA 17033-0852 or go to: https://engage.pennstatehealth.org.”

And that’s the week. Enjoy the weekend and we’ll see you back here next week. 

Cassie Miller
A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry. Miller has an extensive background in magazine writing, editing and design. She is a graduate of Penn State University where she served as the campus newspaper’s photo editor. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in professional journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition to her role at the Capital-Star, Miller enjoys working on her independent zines, Dead Air and Infrared.