The Spark When people come together and talk about really interesting topics, great questions spark better understanding and opportunities for new ideas to form. On The Spark from WITF, hosts Scott LaMar and Aniya Faulcon start the conversations about what's happening in the world and at home.
The Spark

The Spark

From WITF

When people come together and talk about really interesting topics, great questions spark better understanding and opportunities for new ideas to form. On The Spark from WITF, hosts Scott LaMar and Aniya Faulcon start the conversations about what's happening in the world and at home.

Most Recent Episodes

Pennsylvania Auditor General says schools moved money into reserves to allow them to seek ...

It's called Act 1 and Pennsylvania school districts' budgets have often been determined by what Act 1 allows them to do since it was adopted by the legislature in 2006. Act 1 requires school districts to seek voter approval for tax increases greater than "the Act 1 Index'' which is made up of several cost to schools factors. Districts can get exceptions from this requirement if tax increases are needed to cover specific types of expenses. Pennsylvania Auditor General Tim DeFoor released results of an audit of 12 school districts this week that found the audited districts moved unspent money out of their general funds into reserves to be eligible for the exceptions and sometimes those reserves totaled millions of dollars. Auditor General Tim DeFoor is with us today. Support WITF: https://www.witf.org/support/give-now/ See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Pennsylvania Auditor General says schools moved money into reserves to allow them to seek ...

WITF's Sam Dunklau reports on what's going on (or not) at the State Capitol

Support WITF: https://www.witf.org/support/give-now/ See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

WITF's Sam Dunklau reports on what's going on (or not) at the State Capitol

Pennsylvania gets failing grades from Lung Association on tobacco use policies

Pennsylvania has some of the weakest policies in the country when it comes to preventing and reducing tobacco use. That's according to the American Lung Association's State of Tobacco Control report released Wednesday. Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the U.S. It takes the lives of more than 22 thousand Pennsylvanians a year according to the Lung Association. The report provides grades in five areas and Pennsylvania doesn't fare well in any other them. Appearing The Spark Thursday, Jennifer Folkenroth, National Sr. Director, Tobacco Programs, American Lung Association explained what the state is being graded on,"The first is funding for state tobacco prevention programs. Now, this really are the programs out there to prevent kids in initiating tobacco use, providing programs to help individuals to quit that want to quit tobacco products for good. And unfortunately, Pennsylvania is grading in an F, We are failing in this slot. The second is strengthening the clean indoor air law. So making sure that smoke free laws are in place and are completely comprehensive to protect workers, all Pennsylvanians and residents across the state. Unfortunately, we received a D in this category due to all of the loopholes that continue to be in the Clean Indoor Air Act, the level of state tobacco taxes. We graded again a failing grade here. We have not revisited tobacco taxes here in Pennsylvania since 2016, and there's a lot more we could be doing in increasing that tax at least by $1 to really increase the number of individuals quitting. The fourth area is coverage and access to cessation services. This is really ensuring that our state employees have access to all seven first line medications, as well as all counseling options to really help them quit, as well as, of course, the health and wellness of all Pennsylvanians across the state. And our fifth area is ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products. Unfortunately, we don't have any laws or policies here to remove those. So again, we received a failing grade here in Pennsylvania." Dr. Jamie Garfield, American Lung Association National Spokesperson, Professor of Thoracic Medicine and Surgery, Temple Lung Center, Temple University Hospital was asked whether Pennsylvania's policies have real world impacts,"More adults in Pennsylvania smoke than the national average or used tobacco products. Many more high school kids in Pennsylvania use tobacco products than the national average. And we may be it may take some time to see the effects of this. But the anticipated effect is that there will be more people who die or who suffer with tobacco related illness and death in Pennsylvania, you know, than in the rest of the nation. And this is is this preventable disease? This is this is about prioritizing tobacco control." The American Lung Association is advocating that a larger percentage of tobacco settlement funds go toward anti-tobacco programs and that taxes be increased on tobacco products to reduce tobacco use. Support WITF: https://www.witf.org/support/give-now/ See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Pennsylvania gets failing grades from Lung Association on tobacco use policies

Messiah University professor and trumpeter shares Pennsylvania's jazz history and the impo...

Since the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when Jazz originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, Louisiana, there have been a lot of changes within the jazz industry and new stories of jazz professionals that have emerged across the country. On The Spark Wednesday we heard the story of Dr. William Stowman, a local trumpeter, jazz professor and the chair of the Music department at Messiah University. We also discussed the jazz industry, jazz history within Pennsylvania, and the benefits of teaching jazz in schools. Support WITF: https://www.witf.org/support/give-now/ See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Messiah University professor and trumpeter shares Pennsylvania's jazz history and the impo...

Pennsylvania gets a C- on latest infrastructure report card

One of the most important issues or challenges facing the U.S. and Pennsylvania is updating, modernizing and improving our infrastructure. And it's not just roads and bridges – even though that a big part of it – but energy, ports, drinking water, stormwater and wastewater. The American Society of Civil Engineers releases a report card every four years that provides a status of infrastructure. The 2022 Report Card for Pennsylvania's Infrastructure grades the state as a C-. If you go by a traditional report card, that would put the state on the lower end of average. Pennsylvania doing well in aviation and hazardous waste with a B-. But other areas need improvement such as wastewater and bridges that got Ds. On The Spark Wednesday was engineer David DiGioia, co-chair of the infrastructure report card for Pennsylvania. DiGioia indicated that Pennsylvania has received more funding for infrastructure but more is needed in most areas. He added that a new source of funding, other than taxes on gasoline, will be needed for road projects,"Eliminating the gas tax isn't going to happen overnight. I think we all realize that it is an important source of funding for infrastructure and transportation. It keeps getting dwindled away with other things, electric vehicles and so forth. I think we're going to start to see small steps in that direction. We're going to see where mileage based user fees can be implemented. There's many, many programs going on." Wastewater got as D- on the report card meaning millions of gallons of raw sewage is going into Pennsylvania waterways. DiGioia said wastewater will get more attention,"Anything we don't see or a lot we tend to not bring to the surface. I think wastewater and drinking water and utilities and some of those underground type facilities, they're the ones we got to pay more attention to. And I think that's what we're trying to bring to light here. I do agree the investment in wastewater is occurring and new structures are being built. I think we'll see that change over the next four years. I think we're starting to see that investment be put in place that in the next four years, we'll see those grades go up." Support WITF: https://www.witf.org/support/give-now/ See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

LaFayette at Brandywine author tells the story of an American hero

Two-hundred-forty years after the end of the American Revolution, the history we hear about is often just a thumbnail sketch. Declaration of Independence, Washington crossing the Delaware, Valley Forge and victory at Yorktown. That history seems to be fading. Along those lines, one of the heroes of American independence doesn't get the attention today that he deserves. The Marquis de Lafayette is remembered for coming to America as a 20-year-old and helping to bring France into the war, but Lafayette was so much more. Author Bruce Mowday has written a book about Lafayette's role – called LaFayette at Brandywine – The Making of an American Hero. Bruce Mowday was on The Spark Tuesday. Mowday writes that LaFayette became very close to Continental Army Commander Gen. George Washington and Washington trusted LaFayette with more reponsibility. LaFayette ended up being involved and leading American troops in many of the significant campaigns of the Revolution all the way up until victory at Yorktown, "He almost was the commander of Monmouth right after Valley Forge but Gen. (Harry) Lee stepped in and took it away from him. But as he went along, as he gained experience, Washington really, really put more emphasis on him giving more responsibility. And towards the end of the first fighting season for him. He went back to to France to help. The French came to recognize it. But when he came back, he was with Washington with the French forces and he was the one that kind of smoothed over any difficulties. He was with Washington at West Point when the great traitor tried to give away West Point to the British and actually Washington sent Lafayette to Virginia. And one of the directives was, if you find that Benedict old just hang him, don't worry about niceties, don't worry about a trial. He's the Great Satan. He was the great traitor. Just go ahead and do it." [caption id="attachment_226173" align="alignleft" width="379"] Statue of LaFayette in York.[/caption] The British were creating havoc in the south in 1781. Washington entrusted Lafayette along with a few other generals,"LaFayette was down there basically by himself and some militia and was told, look, you got to keep (British General) Cornwallis at bay, don't get in a major fight or clean he'll your clock, but do what you can to contain him. And that's how the campaign (Yorktown) really kind of started." LaFayette was hailed as an American hero throughout his lifetime but made a triumphant tour of the United States in 1824 and 1825,"You would not see that today. There is nobody around that would've gotten this. President Monroe thought we really need to do something for him. You had the 50th anniversary of the country coming up. Congress said bring him over as our national guest. And it was just amazing. He was only supposed to be here for four months. But New York City, thousands and thousands all the way up through New England, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington. People just showed up. They wanted to greet him. They stood in the rain to come up to see him. The speeches, dinners, everything. At the end of that year, he was going to go back (to France) and every other state said, you can't go back. We want you to visit. So we extended it for a total 13 months." Support WITF: https://www.witf.org/support/give-now/ See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Harrisburg native and singer-songwriter, Melissa Wilson, shares her passion for music and ...

The Young Professionals Of Color – Harrisburg is hosting an event called Black NewsBeat, where they aim to uncover the hidden gems within Central Pennsylvania by showcasing poetry, music, and activism. Melissa Wilson is one of the hidden gems that YPOC is highlighting during their event Wednesday. She's a Harrisburg native singer-songwriter who was nominated for the Best R&B Artist Central Pennsylvania Music Hall of Fame award. Wilson is the owner of a salon called Hair Krush in Harrisburg and is passionate about black hair, beauty, and fashion. Wilson joined us on The Spark Tuesday to share her story and her work. Dr. Kimeka Campbell, Vice President of Young Professionals Of Color – Harrisburg also joined us to discuss the Black NewsBeat event that Wilson is featured in and the upcoming Juneteenth events that her organization is hosting for the advancement of the community. Support WITF: https://www.witf.org/support/give-now/ See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Harrisburg native and singer-songwriter, Melissa Wilson, shares her passion for music and ...

Lancaster County cancer survivor was the first to get new treatment

Support WITF: https://www.witf.org/support/give-now/ See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

What's new this tax season and what do taxpayers need to know before filing this year?

The tax season begins today, as the IRS will start accepting 2022 federal income tax returns. However, with a unique tax season behind us that included special tax credits for pandemic relief, many may wonder what's new this tax season and what are some key things taxpayers need to know before filing this year. According to a survey published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, there's a widespread lack of understanding about federal income and estate taxes. Benjamin Bostic, a principal with Boyer & Ritter and a member of the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants joined us on The Spark Monday to provide some answers as we start this tax season. Support WITF: https://www.witf.org/support/give-now/ See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

What's new this tax season and what do taxpayers need to know before filing this year?

"Ask Me Anything" with Scott LaMar and Aniya Faulcon

Support WITF: https://www.witf.org/support/give-now/ See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.