- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Editorials from around Pennsylvania:



To be sure, Goodwill Industries of North Central Pennsylvania helps people and the environment.

It sells inexpensive donated clothing, household goods and other items, allowing families to stretch budgets and reducing the amount of material sent to landfills.

But the nonprofit apparently holds less than charitable feelings toward some competition.

The bickering we have seen among otherwise positive organizations is unnecessary and could turn off potential donors.

On its website and in a recent letter campaign, Goodwill has called attention to clothing and shoe donation boxes that USAgain, Planet Aid, Community Aid, New Life Recycling and other outside organizations have placed in Centre County. The dispute was chronicled in the April 6 CDT and at CentreDaily.com.

Goodwill urges donors to think twice and learn more about the groups before adding to their boxes. Its bone of contention is that the others, not all of which claim nonprofit status, are siphoning off goods that could help local households.

“It’s on the rise; that’s all I can tell you,” said Ray Donati, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of North Central Pennsylvania, which includes Centre among the 13 counties in its service region.

“We’re starting to see that as an impact,” he added.

Donations kept in the area, Goodwill argues, serve another beneficial purpose by supporting outlets that provide local jobs.

If not Goodwill, people should consider giving to other charities in their communities if they want to aid their neighbors, Donati said.

In Centre County, for example, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, FaithCentre, New Hope Thrift, the State College Woman’s Club, Centre Peace and others all accept donations for thrift stores. So does the Salvation Army, which helps families in need but does not have a local retail outlet.

Many churches and service organizations also collect clothing and other goods.

“We just want people to donate locally,” Donati said. “That’s our message. Keep it local.”

That’s not a bad sentiment, though in reality, not every donation Goodwill accepts stays in communities.

As with any such charity, Goodwill receives plenty of unsalable junk that it must pay to have hauled away.

“That’s always a problem for us,” Donati said. “A lot of times we get trash with our treasures.”

Even so, he said, Goodwill has cut its waste and tipping fees by about half over the past several years by selling to recyclers. Sometimes, rejected clothing is baled up for overseas shipment by third parties.

In addition, Donati said, his organization occasionally transfers surplus items from one outlet to another in its region if needed - though it limits the practice because of transportation costs.

Most of the time, Goodwill sells usable donations at the store that accepted them, Donati said. Even if it doesn’t, he said, the revenue generated still helps maintain local outlets - something the box groups can’t say.

“Other companies, everything is leaving the area,” Donati said.

We’re all for the idea of helping our neighbors, and we applaud Goodwill for its philosophy and efforts.

But no organization has a monopoly on aid. Most for-profit corporations give back to their communities in other ways.

Donations inside the boxes in question may not help Centre County families, but someone, somewhere, will benefit.

And that’s the choice for donors, who should follow Goodwill’s recommendation and do a little homework researching box charities before donating. That’s sound advice, after all, for any philanthropy.

The bottom line is this: If it’s important to help local residents, donate to local charities.

But if you just want to be rid of unused stuff, consider the boxes as an alternative to the garbage can.

Every item kept out of dumps helps the planet.

These days, Mother Earth may be the neediest of us all.

-Centre Daily Times



The Issue: A bill would require schools to perform a thorough review before offering a job to those who would work with children.

Our Opinion: The Senate should pass this important measure and send it to Gov. Tom Corbett for his signature.

State Rep. David M. Maloney Sr. is tired of seeing schools pass the trash. We’re glad he is.

Maloney, a Pike Township Republican, introduced a bill in February that would require public and private schools in Pennsylvania and their independent contractors to conduct a thorough employment history review before offering jobs to any applicant for a position involving direct contact with children.

The House recently passed his bill and forwarded it to the state Senate. If the Senate approves it, the legislation would go to Gov. Tom Corbett for his signature.

Maloney, a former member of the Oley Valley School Board, was concerned when he saw the school administration accepting resignations from school employees with no explanations given to the school board, even in executive sessions.

Maloney strongly objected to the procedures that allowed these resignations to occur because he suspected that school employees had been caught having sexual relations with students, but instead of reporting it to authorities, the school administration let them resign to avoid a scandal. Then these former employees were free to get jobs at other schools to continue their predatory behavior.

In a statement, Maloney said Pennsylvania School Code does not require school entities to conduct a thorough employment history check of job applicants, nor does it require school entities to provide a comprehensive response to a background inquiry from another school entity. Maloney’s proposal would correct this oversight in the law.

“When a school employee abuses a student or engages in sexual misconduct with a student, or is alleged to have done so, current law is insufficient to prevent that employee from quietly resigning and moving onto another school, where the abusive conduct may continue,” Maloney said. “We expect that those whom we entrust with our children’s health and welfare to protect them, not prey on them.”

Maloney said that by providing for immunity from criminal and civil liability for employers, school entities, school administrators and independent contractors that disclose the requested background information, the legislation would remove the threat of a frivolous lawsuit being filed by a sex offender when a school notifies another school of a former employee’s misdeeds.

Perhaps most important, the legislation would prohibit a school entity or independent contractor from entering into an agreement to maintain the confidentiality of findings or allegations of abuse against a current or former staff member, he said. The bill would apply to all public and private schools, intermediate units and vocational-technical schools in the commonwealth.

We encourage the Senate to do what the House did and move the bill to Gov. Tom Corbett’s desk.

That schools have the ability to move known child abusers to another district is unconscionable. We congratulate Maloney for using his experience on the Oley Valley School Board as inspiration to further protect the most vulnerable.

-Reading Eagle



Confirmation by Ohio officials that fracking caused several low-level earthquakes near the Lawrence County border warrants attention.

Yet it’s by no means clear that Pennsylvania is responding appropriately.

In Ohio, the discovery has prompted new rules that will halt future drilling activities at sites with faults or where quakes are recorded.

Ohio’s new rules will not prevent drilling and fracking. Instead, they are designed to provide a layer of public protection over a process that apparently can produce unanticipated results.

In the case of the drilling operation near Lowellville, it’s believed a previously unknown fault was affected by fracking in the Utica shale layer. That’s what led to a series of small earthquakes. The fracking operation was halted after the quakes to allow the state to investigate, and the conclusion that the events were connected resulted in a permanent ban on activity at that particular well.

For the most part, drilling and fracking in Ohio will continue as planned. It’s obvious that most of these operations do not produce earthquakes, and the quakes that have been reported are not large enough to cause damage. For the most part, people didn’t even notice them.

But what would happen if Ohio had ignored the quakes, allowing the fracking to proceed and stronger shocks were felt?

There is considerable controversy where shale gas drilling is concerned. Companies involved in the process argue that it is safe and proper environmental precautions are taken. However, they cannot accurately determine the impact of fracking on an undiscovered fault.

The Lowellville incident should serve as a broader concern for regulators. But in Pennsylvania, the official response is decidedly muted, noting that there have been no similar incidents in the state, and seemingly downplaying the concern.

A statement from the Department of Environmental Protection noted it “does not believe that there is enough information about the Ohio incident to relate hydraulic fracturing to an increased potential for earthquakes in Pennsylvania.”

Obviously, authorities in Ohio thought otherwise.

The last time we checked, Pennsylvania and Ohio were very close to each other on a map. If geologic conditions deep underground are to blame for fracking-related earthquakes, an occurrence in Ohio needs to be taken very seriously in Pennsylvania.

Again, this is not a call to ban fracking. But it is a call for environmental officials to plan and prepare, rather than react. It’s in everyone’s interest to promote confidence in shale drilling, rather than create uncertainty.

-New Castle News

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