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COVID-19 made 2020 a rough year for everyone, and it was particularly tough for those who struggle with addiction. They lost some of the supports and routines that helped them stay clean, and that reality probably helped contribute to a spike in overdose deaths in Washington County last year. The annual report released by the office of Washington County Coroner S. Timothy Warco found that there were 102 overdose deaths in the county last year, the highest since 2016, when 102 people died as a result of an overdose, and the second-highest in almost 30 years. Twenty years ago, Warco pointed out, the annual number of overdose deaths rarely exceeded 11. “It’s an uphill struggle,” Warco said. He’s right.

Having buyer’s remorse is not limited to people who purchase a shirt and decide when they get home they made a mistake. Voters can decide that the candidate who once turned out to be so filled with promise has turned out to be a dud. Nineteen states allow recall elections that allow voters to end the tenure of these officials before the next regularly scheduled election. State Rep. Martina White, a Philadelphia-area Republican, has introduced a bill that would give Pennsylvania voters the chance to have recall elections, but when it was voted out of the House State Government Committee last week, Rep. Frank Ryan, a Lebanon County Republican, added an amendment – under the law, recall elections would be limited to only elected officials from Philadelphia. One need not have attended a few years of law school to realize that this is about as unconstitutional as it gets.

College sports is a big industry, pulling in close to $20 billion every year. Yet, even as coaches and athletic directors can pull down multimillion-dollar salaries, the athletes who are at the center of the industry are constrained by rules set down by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) from receiving any monetary compensation for their efforts. That could eventually change, though, thanks to a unanimous ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court this week that small payments to student-athletes could not be prohibited. The ruling could be an opening for a larger challenge to the idea that student-athletes are amateurs and should not be paid. Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote, “Nowhere else in America can businesses get away with agreeing not to pay their workers a fair market rate on the theory that their product is defined by not paying their workers a fair market rate. And under ordinary principles of antitrust law, it is not evident why college sports should be any different. The NCAA is not above the law.”

About 300 refugees from the rampant violence and corruption in Haiti have been living in Charleroi in recent months, their presence largely undetected as a result of everyone having been cooped up over the last year because of COVID-19. As a story in the Observer-Reporter detailed this week, they have been working at area meat packing companies and taking classes in English as a second language. “Life is easier here,” one of the refugees said, and that is almost certainly the same sentiment many newly minted Americans expressed when they settled in Charleroi and other communities across Southwestern Pennsylvania decades ago. Longtime residents of Charleroi and the surrounding communities should welcome the refugees and appreciate the economic boost and shot of vitality they bring.

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