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When Bentleyville resident Karen Tyler died last year at age 71, she was not widely hailed as a pathbreaking pioneer, but it turns out she was. When Tyler was in her mid-20s, she took on “a man’s job in a man’s world” by becoming Pennsylvania’s first female coal miner. She started working at Mine 51, operated by Bethlehem Mines, in Ellsworth on Aug. 1, 1974. Her employment followed just months after the country’s first female miner started punching a clock in West Virginia. Tyler was the subject of racist and sexist remarks, but she hung in there, as a story in the Observer-Reporter detailed last weekend. Tyler later began work as a nurse as the mining industry shed employees. Her son, Wendell Tyler, told us, “I think of my mom as a pioneer for a lot of women going into the coal mine. She gave her best.”

California University of Pennsylvania is undertaking an important initiative to help Spanish-speaking residents of the region. Starting next week, Cal U.’s College of Education and Liberal Arts is working with Washington County’s St. Oscar Romero Parish and other organizations to offer weekly Zoom discussions on issues like racism, accessing social services and financial literacy. There will also be two in-person events at Our Lady of Miraculous Medal Church in Meadow Lands. Dr. Andrea Cencich, a Spanish teacher at Cal U., described it as a pilot effort, and series that run along similar lines might be put together for Asian or Middle Eastern communities in the region. The university is undertaking this community outreach endeavor at a moment of transition, as it merges operations with two other Pennsylvania universities. It bodes well for the future.

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, it was common to say that the United States was a changed country because of the trauma inflicted by the terrorist attacks. According to a poll released this week by ABC News and The Washington Post, many Americans don’t believe the attacks changed the country for the better. According to the poll, 46% say it changed the country for the worst. That represents a shift from 2002, when 55% believed the country had changed for the better because of 9/11. What’s left unsaid is whether this downcast view is the result of our incursions into Afghanistan and Iraq, neither of which delivered conclusive victories, or if we have just become a more battered, divided and gloomy nation in the two decades since that bright and sunny September morning.

Anthony Hamlet did the right thing on Wednesday by announcing his resignation as superintendent of Pittsburgh Public Schools, by far the largest district in the region. Having been with the district for five years, Hamlet was undone by a state Ethics Commission report released last month that found he violated the Public Official and Employee Ethics Act when, among other things, he kept for himself travel reimbursements the district had already paid for and claimed that he was working on days when he was tending to personal business. Hamlet has claimed he was targeted by “biased” city leaders, but there’s every indication that Hamlet himself was the author of his own undoing.

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