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Nonprofit, Waynesburg University launch summer program for teens

Greene County students have a new option to be productive and jump-start their future during the summer, thanks to a new entrepreneurship program at Waynesburg University.

The college has partnered with Innovation Works, a nonprofit organization in Pittsburgh, to bring the organization’s Startable program to Greene County. The summer program teaches entrepreneurship and “maker skills” to students aged 13 to 19.

“We wanted to figure out a way to deploy the program in other southwest parts of the region,” said Pam Eichenbaum, senior business development associate for Innovation Works. “It seemed like a great fit.”

The eight-week program, which started in June and will run through mid-August, is taught by a consultant with Innovation Works, Justin Harvilla of Mather. The students will work 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday on entrepreneur projects and receive a stipend.

“They work through something that’s a problem they see in their community or they’ll come up with a product that could solve a problem,” Eichenbaum said. “They have to determine ‘how do we solve it.’ We teach the students that process, along with how to market and brand the products so you can sell it.”

Owen Farrier’s problem involves chickens. The 15-year-old Waynesburg student owns chicken, and he said coops are a problem for him. The product he’s designing and building in the class is a “higher quality” coop with wheels that’s easier to maneuver.

“There are not a whole lot of people improving on chicken coops,” he said.

Another student in the class, Mike Hillier, also 15 and attending Waynesburg High, wants to build and market a laser pet toy that can attach to one’s belt. The intention is for people to be able to use the laser to get exercise with their pet next to them.

“It’s for you and your pet to be active,” he said.

At the end of the class, the students will get to showcase their products with a formal “pitch” to their peers, then present the same pitch to the Startable students in Pittsburgh.

Eichenbaum said one Pittsburgh student a few years ago created a cat bed that was also a planter with wheatgrass growing in it, which is good for a cat’s digestion.

“That was an issue she wanted to solve,” Eichenbaum said. “The product was then actually put into local pet stores in Pittsburgh.”

That student went on to study biochemical engineering and returned to the Startable program years later to help guide other students, Eichenbaum said.

The Startable program, which Innovation Works started in Pittsburgh about five years ago, was designed to help “create a pipeline of talent” for technology start-ups and the manufacturing industry, Eichenbaum said.

The program is funded through grants from Chevron Appalachia, EQT Foundation and the Grable Foundation and Equitrans Midstream Corp., Eichenbaum said. Innovation Works wanted to pilot the Startable program in Greene County because of its success in Pittsburgh, she said.

“We would like to potentially grow this program beyond Pittsburgh and Greene County, and this is an opportunity to see what works,” Eichenbaum said. “It’s a different population of students.”

Waynesburg University was happy to help facilitate the program here, since the college has recently started an entrepreneurship program, according to Stacey Brodak, the vice president of institutional advancement and university relations.

“We were able to be the catalyst for this program geared toward high school students,” she said. “Our hope is that over time, people will understand the value and it will grow.”

She said their students have been helping to tutor the high school students throughout the program and that the high school students in Startable will be able to participate in the college’s Something from Nothing Innovation Challenge in the fall.

The Greene County class has three students so far, with room for seven more, Eichenbaum said, as they’re still trying to fill those spots. To join the program or for additional information, contact the college at 1-800-225-7393.

Celeste Van Kirk / Celeste Van Kirk/Observer-Reporter 

Celeste Van Kirk/Observer-Reporter

Dave Garrison ministers to patients at Canonsburg Hospital, where he also runs a grief support group.

'It's brutal': Heat wave gripping half the US cancels events

NEW YORK – Americans from Texas to Maine sweated out a steamy Saturday as a heat wave canceled events from festivals to horse races, chased baseball fans out of their seats and pushed New York City to order steps to avoid straining the electrical system.

The National Weather Service said “a dangerous heat wave” sent temperatures into the 90s, with high humidity that made it feel considerably hotter. It was expected to stay warm at night, in the upper 70s to low 80s, with more heat on the way today for the East Coast.

“It’s brutal,” Jeffrey Glickman said as he paused during a run in Washington, D.C.

The 37-year-old got out early to try to escape the worst of the heat but still planned to cut his route short on an already 90-degree morning.

“You just have to power through it the best you can,” he said.

Many people in areas facing excessive heat this weekend have no air conditioning, and cities opened shelters for people to cool off. With record- or near-record-high temperatures at night when many air conditioned places are closed, the weather can become especially dangerous for people who don’t get a chance to cool down, experts say. The risks are greater for young children, the elderly and the sick.

Over three days in July 1995, more than 700 people died during a heat wave in Chicago as temperatures rose above 97 degrees. Many of the dead were poor, elderly and lived alone.

While the Midwest will get some relief Sunday as a cold front brings storms and lower temperatures, the East won’t be so lucky until Monday, the weather service warned. The heat will be the worst from the Carolinas to Maine.

In Norwich, Conn., Larry Konecny watched as one of his workers a couple of stories up in a boom lift cleaned the outside of an office building. The pair had no choice but to work in 90-degree heat and stifling humidity because the job needed to be done when office workers were away, Konecny said.

“He’s pressure-washing, so the water is splashing. So at least there’s some degree of refreshment,” he said.

New York City authorities canceled a Times Square commemoration of the 1969 moon landing and an outdoor festival featuring soccer star Megan Rapinoe, musician John Legend and “Daily Show” host Trevor Noah.

Still, Megan Vallerie ran 5 miles in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.

“It’s not the day to be out here. I should have been up much earlier,” she said Saturday morning. “You’ve got to take your time and drink a lot of water and survive, not enjoy. That’s the goal.”

The city also directed owners of many office buildings to set thermostats no lower than 78 degrees through today to reduce strain on the electrical grid.

The measure came after a power outage related to an equipment failure, not heat, caused a roughly five-hour blackout July 13 that affected a 40-block stretch of Manhattan, including Times Square and Rockefeller Center.

Storms have knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of people in parts of Michigan and Wisconsin, heightening the misery. Strong wind and rain were expected to persist Saturday night and into Sunday in the Midwest and Central Plains.

In Philadelphia, several hundred people were evacuated from a retirement community due to a partial power outage, though it wasn’t immediately clear whether the problem was heat related. Residents were taken to a nearby shelter, and police said some went to a hospital for evaluation.

In Chicago, heat nixed several outdoor events, including a 5K run in Grant Park and a morning workout at Millennium Park.

It hit 94 degrees by first pitch at the San Diego Padres-Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field, but some fans didn’t want to stay away, largely watching from shaded concourses as the Cubs won 6-5.

“We’re sticking to water and not having beer. It’s helping a little bit,” said Jaclyn Jendrisak of St. Louis.

In New Jersey, operators of the Monmouth Park horse racing track canceled six races and pushed back others, including the $1 million Haskell Invitational, until early evening. Maximum Security, the horse that crossed the finish line first in this year’s Kentucky Derby and then was disqualified, headlines the Haskell field.

Animal rights activists protested outside the New Jersey Shore track, where temperatures hit the high 90s.

The track set up misting fans in the paddock and saddling areas for the 14-race card, shortened post parades before the race to limit track time for the horses and hosed them down after they ran.

Amid pressure over a series of horse deaths in California, several tracks canceled their Saturday races, including Saratoga Race Course and Finger Lakes in New York and Laurel Park in Maryland.

At New York’s Yankee Stadium, the temperature hit 94 degrees when the home team and Colorado Rockies took the field for what turned into an 11-5 Yankees romp. Extra hydration stations were set up in all three decks and the bleachers. Announcements reminded fans to keep drinking water.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he was mindful of the heat, too.

“You tend to monitor guys a little more closely, want to see how your pitchers are doing,” he said.

editor's pick
State System freezes tuition at Cal U, other public universities

For the first time in more than 20 years, tuition will not increase for students at California University of Pennsylvania and other state-owned schools for the upcoming school year.

The State System of Higher Education’s Board of Governors earlier this month voted unanimously to keep in-state tuition flat at $7,716 for the 2019-20 academic year at the system’s 14 universities.

“Our mission is clear. These universities exist so that Pennsylvanians across all income levels can access quality higher education, and by holding the line on tuition, we are living up to that mission,” said Cindy Shapira, chair of the Board of Governors, in a press release.

The vote followed a lengthy discussion about an ongoing effort to redesign the system. Chancellor Dan Greenstein recommended the freeze, referring to the impact of higher costs on students and the message that flat tuition would send lawmakers.

The decision leaves a projected budget hole of about $63 million that the system will have to address.

“The universities are aware that this budget gap cannot be fully funded by students,” Shapira told the board before the vote. “I know everyone is working very hard to reduce their cost structures through further implementation of activities that will reduce expenses and avoid costs to the extent possible.”

Cal U. spokeswoman Christine Kindl said the university is mindful of the need to provide high-quality higher education that is affordable for students at all income levels while being prudent of the State System’s financial situation.

“This tuition freeze aligns with our commitment to putting students first and helping them to build the successful future they envision.

“Under President (Geraldine) Jones’ leadership, Cal U. has made extraordinary efforts to rein in costs while maintaining high standards for both academics and student life. We are continuing on that path because we know that both the costs and the benefits of higher education have a long-term impact on the lives of our graduates,” said Kindl.

State system universities have reportedly seen total enrollment fall over the past eight years from about 112,000 to just over 90,000, of which nearly 90% hail from Pennsylvania.

Greenstein noted that enrollment is falling fastest among students from middle-income families, and higher costs make the schools less affordable and less accessible.

“(The board) took a look at how tuition for more than 20 years has steadily risen, and they said, ‘Enough,’” said Greenstein. “Students across Pennsylvania are counting on us to provide high-quality, affordable higher education that will lift up their careers and prepare them for the future.”

He said a tuition freeze is not sustainable, but fundamental changes to the structure of the university system could – over time – produce cost savings and drive up enrollment.

The tuition freeze is just the second in the organization’s 36-year history.

The only other tuition freeze occurred during the 1998-99 school year, when the cost for in-state students was less than half what it is today.

Next year, the system board will let its member schools set multi-year tuition, subject to board approval. System officials say the move will improve competitiveness and affordability at the public universities.

The State system will receive $477.5 million in funding from the commonwealth this year, up $9.4 million, or 2%, from the 2018-19 allocation of $468.1 million. The state over the last five years has restored about $64 million of the nearly $90 million in funding that was cut from the state system’s annual appropriation at the beginning of the recession. During that same time, however, the system has seen considerable increases to its mandated pension costs while other costs also have risen as the result of inflation and other factors.

The state paid 53% of the system’s costs in 1993, a figure that has since fallen to 27%.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.