The Washington Crown Center mall in North Franklin Township has had a rough time over the last couple of years, with anchor stores departing, its multiplex permanently closing, and other tenants pulling up stakes. It received yet another blow this week with the announcement that the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) plans on closing its Washington County Center located in the mall. It will be shuttered as of Aug. 31, with CCAC officials citing decreased foot traffic within the mall and plummeting enrollment. Before COVID-19 took hold, there were 25 courses available there; during spring semester this year, there was a total of just six students enrolled. It’s painful that CCAC is leaving, but with enrollment numbers that anemic, who can blame them?

Voting is serious business, but there can be some fun attached to it, as poll workers at the Monongahela Fire Hall have demonstrated for the last 16 years. Amy Mihalic, the judge of elections there, has created a theme for every election to create a little levity for poll workers, and this year it was the tropics. On Tuesday, poll workers wore tie-dye shirts and leis and sipped refreshments from plastic coconut cups. Mihalic explained, “It makes voting a cheerful event again with the way the world has become. We had to bring some fun back. How can you be in a bad mood when you come in and see these smiling faces?”

Ron and Kathy Swope are to be commended for their resilience in the wake of last fall’s tornados that swept through the region, nearly wiping out their Hopewell Township bee and berry farm. They lost about 40 beehives, and estimated there were about 25,000 bees in each hive. Luckily, they also keep some hives on neighboring farms, and those survived the storm. Earlier this week, the couple told the Observer-Reporter that Swope’s Berries & Bees is being rebuilt, and their products will be back at local farmers markets. “We’re not quitters,” Ron Swope said, who credited an outpouring of support from the community for helping to restore the business. “It was fantastic.”

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, a New York Republican and the third-ranking member of the House’s GOP caucus, has lately been trying to garner attention with a series of incendiary social media posts, one of which has echoed the racist “great replacement” theory that motivated the gunman in the Buffalo, N.Y., mass shooting last weekend. Stefanik also unleashed an intemperate tweet calling Democrats “pedo grifters.” Perhaps taking the cake, though, is her suggestion that migrants at the southern border be denied infant formula during the national shortage. Let that sink in – she is suggesting that children, who came to America through no fault of their own, be denied sustenance. U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego, an Arizona Democrat, responded, “Do we just starve these babies? The parents are locked up, they can’t go shop for an alternative. So you are asking the government to deliberately starve children?” No one should take Stefanik seriously the next time she portrays herself as a defender of “family values.”

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