A new congressional district map for Pennsylvania has made at least one seat representing part of Cumberland County a bit more competitive.
Rep. Scott Perry, R-Dillsburg, won reelection in 2016 by garnering more than 66 percent of the vote in his district, according to Politco. At the time, Perry’s district included all of York and Adams counties and part of the West Shore in Cumberland County.
That has changed.
On Monday, a lengthy legal battle culminated with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court releasing a new congressional map. The court had previously ruled that the 2011 GOP drawn map was gerrymandered to the point that it violated the state Constitution.
Under the new district lines, Perry’s home is the now in the 10th Congressional District, which includes Dauphin County, portions of York County and much of eastern Cumberland County ending at Carlisle.
Republican voters appear to still outweigh Democrats in the district, despite heavy concentrations of Democratic voters in York City, Harrisburg and Carlisle.
However, the gap between the two major political parties has been significantly narrowed.
Perry won reelection in 2016 by beating his Democratic opponent, Joshua Burkholder, by more than 32 percentage points, according to Politco.
President Donald Trump garnered about 54 percent of the major party vote in the newly formed 10th Congressional District in 2016, according to an analysis of voting records conducted by The Sentinel.
Democrat Hillary Clinton took roughly 46 percent of the major party vote, records show.
If that voting trend holds for the November election, it would cut Perry’s margin of victory down by roughly two-thirds.
This could leave open more of an opportunity for one of the several Democratic candidates — including Carlisle resident Alan Howe — to unseat Perry.
It should be noted that Trump underperformed compared to other statewide Republican candidates on the 2016 ballot. For example, Republican Sen. Pat Toomey gained more votes than Trump in each of the three counties that make up the new 10th District.
If that pattern holds, Perry could see the vote swing more in his favor in November.
While Perry’s district appears to be markedly more competitive, the 13th Congressional District, which includes Cumberland County west of Carlisle, appears to remain a Republican stronghold.
Eight other counties from Franklin County to Somerset County and a portion of Westmoreland County are also included in the district.
Republican voters outweigh Democratic voters in the eight full counties in the 13th District by a ratio of two to one, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State. There are more than 100,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats in those counties, voter registration records show.
It is not impossible that a Democratic candidate could win, but the registered voter advantage in that district skews heavily for Republicans.
The incumbent representative for the 13th District is Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Hollidaysburg. Shuster announced previously that he would not seek reelection in November, and several people, including state Sen. John Eichelberger, have announced they would seek to replace him.
State Rep. Stephen Bloom, R-North Middleton, said he is considering a run for the seat, as well. In 2017, Bloom announced he planned to run to replace Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Hazelton, who is looking to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey. With the redistricting, Bloom now resides in the 13th District, and Barletta’s district reaches no farther west than Luzerne County, which is where he lives.
Seven students from Saint Patrick School in South Middleton Township recently won the Innovative Solution Award at the FIRST Lego League’s Pennsylvania East Region competition for their development of a design that identifies water impurities.
The team can now submit its project for consideration to the FIRST Lego League Global Innovation Award.
According to the FIRST Lego League website, “FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded in 1989 to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology.” Founded by Dean Kamen, it is a robotics competition for students in kindergarten to 12th grade.
Members of Team 956, the Tidal Wave Technicians, from Saint Patrick, are seventh-graders Silas Gross, Aidan Caruso, Jose Centenera and Antonio Centenera, and sixth-graders Morgan Coleman, Anna Kardos and Isabel Sebelin.
Sixth-grade teacher and team adviser Jennifer Kukay said the theme of the event, held Feb. 3 at Penn State Berks in Reading, was “Hydro Dynamics,” and their research resulted in a design that uses red cabbage gelatin to detect water impurities like lead and iron.
“It reacts to acids,” Kukay said. “It changes colors based on whether the water is acidic or basic. It becomes very obvious if there is something in the water.”
The team came up with the idea for its project after first focusing on water safety.
“We were looking at water safety and how to detect if water is actually clean or not,” Jose said. “We thought about some type of filtering process at first.”
“I was browsing YouTube and came across a video about red cabbage and how it reacts to acids,” Antonio said. “I brought the idea to the group about using red cabbage and pH levels.”
“I am still shocked at the number of people who die every year from drinking dirty water,” Morgan said.
The top three teams from the regional competition advanced to the championships. The Tidal Wave Technicians did not earn one of those team spots, but their design was one of the entries that impressed the judges.
Kukay said students will now have the next month to continue their research.
“They have another month to work on more research — testing it, making it better — before their proposal is submitted,” she said. “We’ll work on things like, will it work if the gelatin melts?”
“We put a lot of effort and thought into this project, and we all feel this is an amazing opportunity,” Anna said.
Students have been meeting twice each week since the school year started in August. Kukay said she is looking into the process for obtaining a patent for their work.
“Ideas that get this far are usually patented and marketed,” she said. “It’s serious stuff. Big corporations back ideas like this.
“I am amazed, taking a group and watching over them for six months, how they turn into a team. They took an idea and turned it into something serious that is award-winning, and that’s pretty impressive to me.”
Kukay said a team from Saint Patrick won an Innovative Solution Award two years ago, but the idea was not selected for further competition.
Saint Patrick was also represented this year by a team of sixth-grade boys. Members of the Tsunamis were John Gleed, Jackson Knaby, Elijah Diaz, TJ Hoffman, Ethan Brown and Jackson Bayley.
Pennsylvania’s Finest Robotics, a team of students from the Cumberland Valley School District, will compete at the FIRST Lego League World Festival.
They qualified for the competition, which will be held in April in Detroit, Michigan, by winning the Penn State Berks Regional Championship earlier this month.
“We were pretty shocked,” said their coach, Christopher Conway, who was also selected as the regional tournament coach of the year. “Our kids worked so hard throughout the season. They spent countless hours and put in so much time, and it really did pay off for them.”
Members of the team are Jonathan Chang, Kellen Conway, Caleb Houston, Tarun Malarvasan, Himani Pendse and Aria Sonalkar.
Conway, who is coaching the team for the first year, was nominated for the coach of the year award by the students on his team, and selected by judges at the tournament.
According to the FIRST Lego League website, “FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded in 1989 “to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology.”
Founded by Dean Kamen, it is a robotics competition for students in kindergarten to 12th grade.
The CV team topped 43 others to win the regional title in their division (for ages 9-14) with their design of a website (www.bottlefillstations.com) that lists the locations of water bottle fill stations around the world.
The theme was “Hydro Dynamics,” and the goal is to step up recycling by encouraging people to use refillable water bottles.
“The kids did all the work,” Conway said. “We visited some local professionals from the Chesapeake Bay Water Foundation and the National Sanitation Foundation, and local leaders, to spark ideas. And one of those ideas was being able to find water bottle fill stations. More and more people are carrying around water bottles today, but being able to fill those water bottles isn’t always so easy.”
Conway said the team’s research revealed that there is an island of plastic in the Pacific Ocean created by debris that found its way into the ocean.
He said many people purchase water bottles from vending machines and dispose of them in trash cans, but sometimes that trash ends up in the ocean.
The Cumberland Valley team is one of 108 teams that earned an invitation to the World Festival.
Two of the six students were on the team last year. That team also qualified for the world event. Conway was a parent chaperone at that event; he took over this year as coach when coach Jignasha Manek’s son became too old to participate.
“We’re fortunate to be able to go back,” Conway said.
“Last year, we did pretty well. We ended up taking two awards — third in teamwork, and our coach won the coach of the year award.”
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he has signed a memo directing the Justice Department to propose regulations to “ban all devices” like the rapid-fire bump stocks involved in last year’s Las Vegas massacre.
Seeking to show action days after a deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Trump spoke during a White House ceremony recognizing bravery by the nation’s public safety officers.
“We must move past clichés and tired debates and focus on evidence based solutions and security measures that actually work,” Trump said.
The announcement came days after the shooting deaths of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The device Trump referred to was used in the October shooting deaths of 58 people in Las Vegas, and attached to a half-dozen of the long guns found in the shooter’s hotel room. A legislative effort to ban the device fizzled out last year.
White House officials say the president will be meeting with students, teachers and state and local officials to discuss ways of providing more school safety and address gun violence.
Pressure has been mounting for action after the Parkland shooting.
Trump has also indicated he is open to a limited strengthening of federal background checks on gun purchases.
Over the weekend, the White House said he had spoken Friday to Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, about a bipartisan bill designed to strengthen the FBI database of prohibited gun buyers.
Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders qualified the support, stressing that talks continue and “revisions are being considered,” but said “the president is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system.”
The main action Trump has taken on guns has been to sign a resolution blocking an Obama-era rule designed to keep guns out of the hands of certain mentally disabled people. The president has voiced strong support for gun rights and the National Rifle Association.
The bipartisan background check legislation would be aimed at ensuring that federal agencies and states accurately report relevant criminal information to the FBI. It was introduced after the Air Force failed to report the criminal history of the gunman who slaughtered more than two dozen people at a Texas church.
The White House statement comes as shooting survivors and other youths press for more gun control in a rising chorus of grief and activism. Their “March for Our Lives” is planned March 24 in Washington.
Ella Fesler, 16, a high school student in Alexandria, Virginia, was among the students at a “lie-in” in front of the White House. She said it was time for change, adding: “Every day when I say ‘bye’ to my parents, I do acknowledge the fact that I could never see my parents again.”
But previous gun tragedies have not led Congress to act. After the Las Vegas massacre in the fall, Republicans and Democrats in Congress talked about taking a rare step to tighten the nation’s gun laws. Four months later, the only gun legislation that has moved through Congress eases restrictions for gun owners.
Kristin Brown, co-president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said the measure Trump discussed with Cornyn would help to enforce existing rules but would not close loopholes permitting loose private sales on the internet and at gun shows. She’s pressing for a ban on assault-type weapons and for laws enabling family members, guardians or police to ask judges to strip gun rights temporarily from people who show warning signs of violence.
“We need a comprehensive system,” Brown said. “One of these isn’t enough.”
Trump, who visited first responders and some victims Friday, had focused his comments on mental health, rather than guns. The White House says the president will host a “listening session” with students and teachers on Wednesday and will discuss school safety with state and local officials on Thursday. They have offered no further details on who will attend those sessions.
Trump spent most of the weekend at his private Palm Beach estate, Mar-a-Lago. White House aides advised against golfing too soon after the shooting. But on Presidents Day, the avid golfer headed to his nearby golf club. The White House did not answer questions about whether he was playing golf.
President Barack Obama took heavy criticism in 2014 when he went golfing during a vacation just minutes after denouncing the militants who had beheaded an American journalist. He later regretted playing golf so soon after the killing.
Trump watched cable television news during the weekend and groused to club members and advisers about the investigation of Russian election meddling.
In a marathon series of furious weekend tweets from Mar-a-Lago, Trump vented about Russia, raging at the FBI for what he perceived to be a fixation on the Russia investigation at the cost of failing to deter the Florida school attack.