Pennsylvanians going for gold in Tokyo | Five for the Weekend

21 Pennsylvanians will compete in the 2020 Olympic Games

By: - July 24, 2021 6:30 am

(c) klenger –

Happy weekend, all.

The 2020 Summer Olympics (happening in 2021, of course) officially started Friday in Tokyo with Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka lighting the cauldron. 

While this year’s Olympic Games promise to look different than previous years, more than 600 American athletes have made the trip to Japan to compete in their respective sports, including 21 who hail from the Keystone State. 

From baseball and rugby players, to rowers and archers, several of Pennsylvania’s best and brightest will take the stage (field, court, etc.) in Japan these next two weeks.

You can find out more about Pennsylvania’s 2020 Olympians here and here. 

But before you start cheering for Team USA, you may have noticed on Thursday that our website looks a little different.

We’ve transitioned to a new website design that we hope will be easier to navigate and more user-friendly. Feel free to peruse the site this weekend in between events.

As always, the top 5 stories from this week are below. 

The Capitol building in Harrisburg (Capital-Star photo by Sarah Anne Hughes)







1. Pa. GOP lawmaker eyes constitutional amendment to avoid veto, limit top health official

With a new approach to passing laws, Republicans in the GOP-controlled Legislature are now looking to limit the state’s top health official through the constitutional amendment process.

The latest effort to avoid a gubernatorial veto comes from Rep. Ryan Warner, R-Fayette, who announced plans for an amendment in a Friday memo to colleagues that would curtail the Pennsylvania secretary of health’s emergency powers.

Describing the March 2020 statewide shutdown and subsequent COVID-19 mitigation efforts as “unilateral orders of an unelected bureaucrat that infringed on their rights and shuttered their business,” Warner said the Legislature should have a say over emergency responses and public health orders.

Love Park in Philadelphia (Photo via Flickr Commons)

2. Philly sees ‘small but real increase’ in COVID-19 cases, city’s top doc says

The number of COVID-19 cases is rising slightly most likely due to the Delta variant, according to the city’s top doctor.

Philadelphia’s vaccination rate — 60.4 percent of city adults are fully vaccinated — will help protect the city, acting Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole said Monday.

Philadelphia is averaging 56 new cases of COVID-19 per day over the last two weeks, according to city health officials.

“We have been watching the number of COVID cases rise in other states recently, most likely due to the Delta variant, and now it looks like we’re starting to see a small, but real increase here in Philadelphia,” Bettigole said in a statement her office issued Monday.

Former Pa. state Rep. Rick Saccone (Facebook screen capture)

3. Former state Rep. Rick Saccone eyes bid for lieutenant governor

Former state Rep. Rick Saccone, hasn’t had the smoothest of transitions after serving in Harrisburg. In 2018, he lost a special election to U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-17th, in a district that former President Trump carried by 20 points. Saccone also started a blog called “Veritas 007” and filled it with arch-conservative ramblings and conspiracy theories.

Then, on Jan. 6, Saccone posted a photo of himself and state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, with a group of insurrectionists just outside the Capitol grounds. This led to Saccone losing his position at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe.

But these falters haven’t stopped Saccone’s political ambitions. According to statewide political news site PoliticsPA, Saccone said he is interested in running for the open lieutenant governor position in 2022.

“There are many excellent candidates running for Governor and Senate, but the field for Lt. Governor seems pretty open,” wrote Saccone in a written statement to PoliticsPA. “Yes, I am carefully considering running for Lt. Governor.”

Pa.’s state-owned universities. (Via PASSHE website)

4. Pa. State System unanimously moves to consolidate six schools into regional campuses

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s Board of Governors has approved the most transformative restructuring in the system’s 38-year history, as it voted Wednesday to consolidate six state-owned universities into two regional campuses.

The unanimous vote, which came after weeks of heated public debate, will turn Bloomsburg, Lock Haven, and Mansfield universities in the northeast and California, Clarion, and Edinboro in the west, into single institutions.

The decision ends a years-long advocacy effort to address sagging enrollment and rising tuition; however, “it’s a journey that will take us more years to complete, board Chairperson Cindy Shapira said.

Under the approved plan, each of the six campuses will remain open and offer a residential experience, but they’ll operate under different names.

(Image via The Healing Center/Pittsburgh City Paper).

5. Pgh is getting its first drive-thru medical marijuana dispensary

The Healing Research Center medical-cannabis company is expanding to Robinson Township, and will provide the Pittsburgh area with its first drive-through medical cannabis dispensary. The dispensary located in western Allegheny County is expected to open on Fri., July 30.

The new drive-through dispensary, owned by Verano Holdings, will be located at 6300 Robinson Centre Drive near the Mall at Robinson, and will include four different drive-through stalls. Chris Kohan, co-founder of The Healing Center, said he is excited to bring the first drive-through medical marijuana dispensary to Western Pennsylvania.

The Healing Research Center in Robinson Township is the second dispensary under that name in the state, with the first located in Chester County. The Healing Center, a partner of the Healing Research Center, announced earlier this year that it purchased 50 percent equity interest in Chester County-based Agronomed Biologics which allowed for the expansion of four more Pennsylvania locations, and a grow facility.

Eventually, the six new dispensaries will assist in research on medical marijuana with Drexel University’s Medical Cannabis Research Center as part of Pennsylvania’s Chapter 20 Clinical Research Program, according to a press release.

And that’s the week. See you back here next weekend. 

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Cassie Miller
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.