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Pennsylvania

In swing-state Pennsylvania, a Latino-majority city embraces a chance to sway the 2024 election

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In swing-state Pennsylvania, a Latino-majority city embraces a chance to sway the 2024 election


READING, Pa. (AP) — Religion and politics frequently overlap in Reading, an old industrial city in one of the most pivotal swing states of this year’s presidential election.

In Pennsylvania, there is early precedent for this kind of thing. The state began as a haven for Quakers and other European religious minorities fleeing persecution. That includes the parents of Daniel Boone, the national folk hero born just miles from Reading, a town where the Latino population is now the majority.

Today, the Catholic mayor is also a migrant — and the first Latino to hold the office in Reading’s 276-year history. Mayor Eddie Moran is keenly aware of the pivotal role Pennsylvania could play in the high-stakes race, when a few thousand votes in communities like his could decide the future of the United States.

“Right now, with the growing Latino population and the influx of Latinos moving into cities such as Reading, it’s definitely an opportunity for the Latino vote to change the outcome of an election,” Moran says. “It’s not a secret anymore.”

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A community of spirituality — and Latinos

In Reading, the sky is dotted with crosses atop church steeples, one after the other. Catholic church pews fill up on Sundays and many stand for the services. Elsewhere, often in nondescript buildings, evangelical and Pentecostal congregations gather to sing, pray and sometimes speak in tongues.

Outside, salsa, merengue and reggaeton music (often sung in Spanglish) blast from cars and houses along city streets first mapped out by William Penn’s sons — and that now serve a thriving downtown packed with restaurants proudly owned by Latinos.

What to know about the 2024 Election

This is a place where, when the mayor is told that his town is 65% Latino, he takes pride in saying: “It’s more like 70%.”

They believe in their political sway. A recent Pew Research Center survey found that eight in 10 Latino registered voters say their vote can make a difference.

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On a recent Sunday, Luis Hernandez, 65, born in Puerto Rico, knelt to pray near the altar at St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church. Later, walking out after Mass, Hernandez said he’ll vote for Trump — even on the very day of the former president’s criminal convictions related to hush money for a porn star.

“Biden is old,” Hernandez says, and then reflects on how Trump is only a few years younger. “Yes, but you look at Trump and you see the difference. … Biden’s a good man. He’s decent. But he’s too old.”

In the weeks after he spoke, many more Americans would join in calls for Biden to withdraw from the race after his debate debacle, which crystallized growing concerns that, at 81, he’s too old.

Immigration is a key topic on people’s lips

It’s not just about Biden’s age or debate performance. It’s also, Hernandez says, about the border crisis. He says too many immigrants are arriving in the United States, including some he considers criminals. And, he adds, so much has changed since his Dominican-born father arrived in the 1960s — when, he says, it was easier to enter and stay in America.

For some, there are other issues as well.

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“It’s the economy, immigration and abortion,” says German Vega, 41, a Dominican American who became a U.S. citizen in 2015. Vega, who describes himself as “pro-life,” voted for Trump in 2020 and plans to do so again in November.

“Biden doesn’t know what he’s saying. He doesn’t know what he’s doing, and we have a country divided,” Vega says. Trump is “a person of character. … He looks confident. He never gives up; he’s always fighting for what he believes.”

Of course, there are some here who just don’t favor taking sides — except if it’s for Jesus. Listen to Pastor Alex Lopez, a Puerto Rican who cuts hair in a barber shop on the first floor of his home on Saturdays, and preaches on the second floor on Sundays.

“We’re neutral,” he says. “We just believe in God.”

A city with deep industrial roots resurges

Reading was once synonymous with iron and steel. Those industries cemented the creation of the Reading Railroad (an early stop on the Monopoly gameboard) that helped fuel the Industrial Revolution and became, in the late 19th century, one of the country’s major corporations.

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Today, the city of about 95,000 people, 65 miles northwest of Philadelphia, is booming once again. Reading is 67% Latino, according to U.S. Census figures, and home to high concentrations of people of Dominican and Puerto Rican heritage — as well as Colombians and Mexicans, who own restaurants and other businesses around town.

Political candidates are taking notice of Reading’s economic and political power. The 2020 presidential election in Pennsylvania was decided by about 82,000 votes, and — according to the Pew Research Center — there are more than 600,000 eligible Latino voters in the state.

It’s true that Reading still leans mostly Democratic. But the Trump campaign doesn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to turn it around. It recently teamed up with the Republican National Committee and Pennsylvania GOP to open a “Latino Americans for Trump” office in a red-brick building near the Democratic mayor’s downtown office.

Moran has made a plea to Biden and other Democrats to take notice and visit Reading before the election. It’s crucial, he says.

“I think that it’s still predominantly Democratic,” he says. “But the candidates need to come out and really explain that to the community.”

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One development, Moran says, is that religious leaders are now less hesitant to get involved in politics.

“Things change, even for churches,” he says. Clergy “realize the importance that they hold as faith-based leaders and religious leaders and they’re making a call of action through their congregations.”

The message: Get out and vote

A few blocks from St. Peter’s, a crowd gathers inside First Baptist Church, which dates to the late 19th century.

In a sign of Reading’s changing demographics, the aging and shrinking congregation of white Protestants donated the building to Iglesia Jesucristo es el Rey (Church Jesus Christ is the King), a thriving Latino congregation of some 100 worshippers who have shared the building with First Baptist for nearly a decade.

Pastors Carol Pagan and her husband Jose, both from Puerto Rico, recently led prayer. At the end of the service, microphone in hand, the pastors encourage parishioners to vote in the election — irrespective of who they choose as the president.

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“The right to vote is,” Carol Pagan says before her husband chimes in: “a civic responsibility.”

After the service, the congregation descends to the basement, where they share a traditional meal of chicken with rice and beans.

“I believe the principle of human rights have to do with both parties — or any party running,” Carol Pagan says. “I always think of the elderly, of the health system, of health insurance, and how it shouldn’t be so much about capitalism but more rights for all of us to be well.”

Both of the Pagans make clear that they won’t vote for Trump. They’re waiting, like others, for circumstances that might lead Biden to withdraw, so they can support another Democratic candidate.

“It’s our duty to shield that person with prayer — it doesn’t matter if that person is a Democrat or a Republican,” Carol Pagan says. “We owe them that.”

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Associated Press religion coverage receives support through the AP’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely responsible for this content.





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Pennsylvania

Jeffrey A. Patten, Hermitage, PA

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Jeffrey A. Patten, Hermitage, PA


HERMITAGE, Pennsylvania (MyValleyTributes) – Jeffrey A. Patten, 60, of Hermitage, passed away on Friday, July 19, 2024, in UPMC Montefiore Hospital, Pittsburgh.

Jeff was born on July 24, 1963, in Erie, a son of Glen and Marion (Olzack) Patten.

He was a 1981 graduate of Northwestern High School, Albion, Pennsylvania.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in forest science from Penn State University, where he was a member of Tau Phi Delta, the forestry fraternity.

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A forester, he worked 25 years for Clear Lake Lumber Inc, Spartansburg, Pennsylvania, and completed the remainder of his career with Springfield Hardwood Products, Grove City, Pennsylvania.

Jeff was of the Christian faith. Throughout his life, he supported his faith by volunteering for church events and playing church league softball.

He was a member of the Society of American Foresters and the Lake Erie Boat Club, Conneaut, Ohio.

Jeff was a supportive father, who was passionate about raising his three sons. He coached Little League baseball and devotedly followed and supported them in all their high school sports.

An avid outdoorsman, he was a hunting and fishing enthusiast. He also liked to ride his bike and was considered a “weekend barbecue griller.”

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He is survived by his wife, the former Christina Mattis, whom he married on May 9, 2020; three sons, Colin (Kelsi) Patten, Neshannock, Pennsylvania, Luke (Annika) Patten, Denver, Colorado, and Nathan (Taylor) Patten, Fairfax, Virginia; his two grandchildren, Porter and Chandler; his parents, Glen and Marion Patten, North Kingsville, Ohio; brother, Brian (Lori) Patten, Saxonburg, Pennsylvania and a nephew and niece, Cale and Dara.

The family suggests memorial contributions be directed to the Pennsylvania DCNR Bureau of Forestry, Attn Rural and Community Forestry, 400 Market Street, sixth Floor, Harrisburg, Pennylvania 17105, or the charity of their choice.

Calling hours will be 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. Saturday July 27, 2024 in J. Bradley McGonigle Funeral Home and Crematory, Inc., 1090 East State Street, Sharon. A funeral service will be held immediately after in the funeral home.

To send flowers to the family of Jeffrey A. Patten, please visit the floral store.

A television tribute will air Monday, July 22 at the following approximate times: 7:10 a.m. on FOX, 12:22 p.m. on WKBN, 5:08 p.m. on MyYTV and 7:27 p.m. on WYTV. Video will be posted here the day of airing.

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Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania State University students to pay more in tuition while attending main campus

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Pennsylvania State University students to pay more in tuition while attending main campus


PENNSYLVANIA (WPVI) — Students at Pennsylvania State University will soon pay more if they attend the main campus, according to university officials.

The Board of Trustees approved a tuition increase to help offset the university’s budget deficit.

In-state tuition will increase by a little over $400 beginning in 2025, officials say.

Out-of-state tuition will go up by 1% for students who attend satellite campuses. It will increase by 4% if the student studies in Happy Valley.

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Tuition will not increase for in-state students who attend satellite campuses, university leaders say.

Copyright © 2024 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.



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New Pennsylvania law aims to help local pharmacies

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New Pennsylvania law aims to help local pharmacies


This story originally appeared on 6abc.

There’s a new outlook for local pharmacies throughout Pennsylvania.

Governor Josh Shapiro has signed legislation that aims to save those businesses from closing.

Since January, more than 140 pharmacies across the state have shut down.

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An investigation showed the issue is the “pharmacy benefits manager,” who plays the middleman for insurance companies and the pharmacies themselves.

The legislation aims to provide more transparency for the job, while saving money in the process.



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