Eclipse 2017: Oak Grove light-and-shadow show

A pinhole-camera effect is produced naturally by leaves filtering eclipsed sunlight and projecting it in crescent-shaped shadows on the sidewalk outside Weyandt Hall, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Aug. 21, 2017. Photos by David Loomis.

By The HawkEye staff

INDIANA — The entrance to Weyandt Hall, home to the natural sciences at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, became an impromptu outdoor astrophysics lab on Monday afternoon as students and faculty members observed a partial eclipse of the sun.

By 2 p.m., small groups armed with instruments such as solar-eclipse glasses, camera-obscura cardboard boxes, pin-holed sheets of paper, welder’s hoods and cell phones had gathered near the building’s front door just east of Oakland Avenue.

Clouds were building for a brief thunderstorm after 3 p.m. But around 2:40 p.m., the sky above the Oak Grove was clear enough for a glimpse of the solar-lunar peekaboo.

Some scenes from the show:

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IUP’s per-credit tuition policy: a first-year review

A Civic Project story

Colleen A. Rorke, a 2015 Indiana University of Pennsylvania political science graduate, works at a “fair-paying job,” not in her field, to repay a student-loan debt of $40,000, she says. Photo submitted by Colleen Rorke.

By Cara Mehalek

INDIANA — In August 2013, Colleen A. Rorke, a petite, soft-spoken political science major from Tamaqua, Pa., transferred to Indiana University of Pennsylvania. To pay for her last two years of college, Rorke relied on grants, private and federal loans and part-time restaurant jobs. Her parents could not afford IUP tuition.

“Going to college in America is already astronomical in price,” the 2015 graduate wrote in a March 29 Facebook message. “I think more students would choose college if it was affordable and practical, but it isn’t.”

Now, Rorke said she must spend the next several years paying off $40,000 in student loans, a debt 30 percent deeper than Pennsylvania’s third-highest-in-the-nation average student debt of $31,675, according to the Keystone Research Center.

“It took me close to a year to find a fair-paying job (not in my field),” Rorke wrote.

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‘Never seen it this bad’

Landlord Dallas “Ray” Wood describes the June 22 flooding of the small brook just upstream from the neighborhood he owns at the northern border of Indiana borough. June 25, 2017. Photo by David Loomis.

Staff report

INDIANA — Dallas “Ray” Wood stood on the bank of the small stream he calls White’s Run. It flows south across Clymer Avenue toward the homes he owns in the out-of-the-way “little mining town” he calls Cicero. His sunny, grassy, 11-home neighborhood sits hard by the railroad tracks that slice southward at the borough’s northern boundary.

All of it was inundated on Thursday evening when the rain fell hard and fast, turning little White’s Run into Lake Cicero. In the county, the flash flooding claimed one life. In Wood’s neighborhood, the water damaged almost every one of the 75-year-old properties he said he has owned and managed since 1991.

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Postcard from Cuba: People connect, governments disconnect

Many old American cars in Cuba are used as taxis. Due to the U.S. embargo, many of the cars predate 1960, and the owners often have a difficult time obtaining parts to repair the vehicles. Photos by Lauries S. Miller.

By Laurie S. Miller

HAVANA — Sitting in his walker, waiting on his luggage at the Havana Airport, David Hiebert of Lawrence, Kansas, was looking forward to his second trip to Cuba – this time with six family members in tow.

Hiebert said one of his favorite things about the first trip was talking to people.

“I asked a 10-year-old boy what he wanted to be when he grew up,” Hiebert said. “He replied, ‘a tourist.’”

It’s not a surprising answer, considering that the average state salary is around $27, and many people don’t have the means to maintain what they own, said Miguel Coyula, an architect, urban planner and professor at the University of Havana. Cuba attracted a record 4 million visitors in 2016, an increase of 13 percent from 2015, according to Cuba’s tourism ministry. This increase is attributed to the resumption of diplomatic relations with the United States that occurred under President Barack Obama.

It remains to be seen how President Donald J. Trump’s policy changes will affect American travel to Cuba in the future. Trump’s new restrictions, aimed at tightening travel and commercial ties between the United States and Cuba, were announced June 16.

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The Russian connection: Macedonian politics, U.S. news

An Analysis

By Benjamin Shultz and Snezhana Stefanovska Shultz


Macedonia is in a part of world that is often overlooked. Approximately the size of Vermont and with a population of around two million, the country is impoverished, landlocked, and isolated in a corner of Europe that relatively few people visit.

While fellow ex-Yugoslav republics Croatia and Slovenia are now part of the European Union, Macedonia remains on Europe’s cultural, economic, and political periphery. As such, it is a country that rarely enters the international news cycle, much less that of the United States.

That changed in November 2016, when journalists descended upon the industrial town of Veles after a Buzzfeed investigation found that it was a leading hub of fake news production favoring the Trump campaign.

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Airport festival attendance soars

Ron F. Gorr and his 1942 Stinson L-5 Sentinel, Jimmy Stewart Airport, June 10, 2017. Photo by Alexandria Mansfield.

By Alexandria Mansfield

INDIANA – The annual aviation festival that landed last weekend at the Jimmy Stewart Airport  drew the largest crowd in the event’s two-decade-long history, an airport official said Tuesday.

“There were more people here this weekend than we’ve ever had before, mainly because of the weather,” said airport manager Tom A. Robertson. “It’s very seldom that we get two good days in a row.”

Events featured vintage and military aircraft, face-painting, balloon animals, food trucks and public-service booths and included an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast, aerial demonstrations and a 1940s-themed dance. A new feature brought two speakers:

  • Dean Stewart Engelhardt, of California, a seaplane instructor, test pilot, Alaskan bush pilot, aerobatic airshow pilot and stunt pilot; and
  • Florence “Shutsy” Reynolds, of Connellsville, a member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) during World War II.

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What compensation for a wrongful conviction?

A Civic Project story

Lewis “Jim” Fogle and wife Deb dine at Wayne Avenue restaurant, Indiana, Pa., April 19, 2017. Photo by Nathan Zisk.

By Nathan Zisk

INDIANA – At his August 13, 2015, release from state prison after serving 34 years for a crime he did not commit, Lewis “Jim” Fogle said he wanted nothing more than a steak dinner. Now he wants more – compensation from the commonwealth of Pennsylvania for his wrongful conviction.

In 1981, state police charged Fogle with the 1976 rape and murder of 15-year-old Deann Katherine Long of Cherry Tree. An Indiana County jury convicted him in 1982. He won release from prison two years ago after the Innocence Project, a New York- and Philadelphia-based non-profit that represents the wrongfully convicted, found DNA evidence exonerating him. Soon after, Indiana County District Attorney Patrick Dougherty, citing the new evidence, declined to re-try Fogle.

Today, Fogle, 65, is unemployed, but not unoccupied. He travels to tell his story, and he practices the artwork he discovered in childhood and developed in prison. He lives in a cluttered apartment on Oakland Avenue. It is dark, with concrete walls — just like prison, Fogle said. Sometimes when he awakens, he thinks he never left.

“I get panic attacks and very cold sweats,” Fogle said during an April 6 interview at his home. “Sometimes I’m so dizzy I can’t stand.”

While he was in prison, his mother and two brothers died. His relationships with his wife and family were fractured, he said, although he is close to his two granddaughters. He suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, Fogle said.

He is among 61 Pennsylvanians (2,033 nationwide) who have been exonerated since 1990 by DNA evidence that proves they did not commit the crimes for which they were convicted, according to the National Registry of Exonerations, a joint project of the University of California Irvine, the University of Michigan Law School, Michigan State University College of Law and Northwestern University School of Law.

In Fogle’s case, the registry listed “perjury or false accusation” as contributing factors in his wrongful conviction.

In February, attorneys for Fogle filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh. The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages for wrongful conviction. It cites two former Indiana County prosecutors – including current Court of Common Pleas presiding judge William J. Martin – and seven state police officers who investigated and prosecuted the cold case.

But the federal court is one of three avenues in Fogle’s strategy to win compensation from officials who took 34 years of his life. The other two approaches are the court of public opinion in the press and the legislative bodies of the state House and Senate in Harrisburg.

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The Snapchat photo, revisited and reconsidered

A Civic Project story

Former Indiana University of Pennsylvania student Katelyn J. Hecei. Photo taken and provided by Hecei.

By Emilee Larkin

INDIANA — Katelyn J. Hecei was a freshman at Indiana University of Pennsylvania on Dec. 8, 2015, when her roommate took a photo of a group of African-American students in the Stapleton Library, posted it to the video-messaging application Snapchat and labeled the students as “monkeys.” The image and caption went viral on social media, including Twitter and Facebook.

Hecei (HE-see), 20, of Warren, Pa., said she was a friend of her roommate and expressed shock that she would do something like that.

“The way her post made my friends feel broke my heart,” Hecei said in a March 6 Twitter message. “A campus where diversity was celebrated was tainted by one person.”

Hecei said she faced some backlash, too. She said some people on campus assumed she felt the same way as her roommate because they were friends.

“It went on for about a week, the messages to me and the random bangs on the door at night,” Hecei said. “But after I reached out to some students, I felt cleared of any issues.”

Hecei lives in Phoenix, no longer an IUP student.

“I stopped attending IUP because the environment wasn’t something I wanted to be a part of,” said Hecei in a March 30 Twitter message. “The whole place felt so toxic. The people were rude and didn’t care about other people.”

Hecei said she still thinks about the Snapchat incident and its impact.

“I still think about how much what one person says can hurt another, or a whole race,” Hecei said.

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IUP Punxsutawney’s racist past and present

A Civic Project story

Khandice J. Hampton, 20, of Philadelphia, outside Wilson Hall on Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s main campus, March 29. Hampton, a junior, spent her freshman year at IUP’s branch campus in Punxsutawney. Photo by Alexandria Mansfield.

By Alexandria M. Mansfield

PUNXSUTAWNEY –- On a Friday night in early April, students at this Indiana University of Pennsylvania branch campus do not roam the streets looking for their next party. No, students at this vintage-1962 institution burrow in their rooms like the town’s most famous mammal, celebrity groundhog Punxsutawney Phil.

Why? Because they have been warned by friends, family members and administrators against walking at night. Students don’t feel safe here.

“People would roll by and yell racial slurs out of their cars,” said Khandice J. Hampton, 20, of Philadelphia, in a March 29 interview in the Stapleton Library on the main IUP campus in Indiana. “It put a piece of fear in me. You see it on movies and TV, and you just don’t really think about it until it actually happens to you.”

Hampton, who attended IUP’s Jefferson County campus from the summer 2014 semester until the end of the spring 2015 semester, said she is just one of many black students at IUP who have experienced racism at Punxsutawney. Hampton, now a junior, plans to graduate in May 2018.

“There was stuff that was unnecessary,” Hampton recalled. “We were walking to a store, and a guy just rolled past and screamed, ‘N****rs!’”

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A talisman for public-school teachers

Whit W. Watts. Photo by David Loomis.

An Opinion

By Whit Watts

INDIANA — Years ago I was given a talisman in the form of a Saint Christopher medallion. At the time, I had no idea who Saint Christopher was. I was told the medallion would protect me on my travels. I can’t say I believed it would do so, but it was a gift and somewhat fashionable at the time. So, I put it on my key fob anyway.

I carried it for many years. While I was never the superstitious type, I must admit that in an odd sort of way I did derive a kind of empty comfort from it.

Today, many people take talismanic comfort from concealed weapons. We harbor vain hopes that concealed weapons will protect us in our travels, that they will serve as invisible deterrents and, if the time came, allow us, flat-footed and alone, to control the uncontrollable.

Such comfort is easy to obtain. If you can purchase a gun in Pennsylvania, then you can obtain a permit to conceal and carry it — no training or additional checks required.  I have no problem with that. As long as you’re sober, that’s fine by me. That’s your individual right.

As state Sen. Don White, R-Indiana, has pointed out,  Senate Bill 383, authorizing public-school personnel access to firearms, has nothing to do with individual rights. Carrying deadly force to protect the public is an entirely different matter.

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