Liz Pinkey and husband Stephen Behun III's decision to vaccinate their three children had its roots in a teacher's remark and babies' headstones.
Pinkey once wrote a paper on childhood diseases that her teacher said would educate her classmates about illnesses they had never heard of, like measles, mumps, pertussis and diphtheria.
Pinkey knew about them, from reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's stories of the old days. Later, classes in immunology and virology prompted her to earn a degree in biology.
While the vast majority of parents in the United States have their children inoculated against measles, a small but growing number are saying no to vaccines.
Those who refuse the immunization cite concerns about the vaccines causing illness, allergic reactions or neurological problems.
Government agencies and most doctors, however, say the risk is minimal, and is overshadowed by the risks of contracting the disease.
The rash of measles breaking out across the country is spreading into Pennsylvania.
The disease was believed to have been eradicated in the United States in 2000, thanks to routine vaccinations. But it has begun to crop up again after parents became wary that the inoculations may hurt their children and refused to have them vaccinated.
Recently, the world lost über-comedian Robin Williams, who police say committed suicide in his northern California home.
Williams catapulted to fame with the 1980s television series, Mork & Mindy, in which he played the role of Mork, an alien from the planet Ork. From there he starred in films and continued his meteoric rise to fame by way of his razor-sharp wit, uncanny ability to mimic others, and his rapid-fire, stream-of-conciousness comedy routines.
But hidden behind the laughter, Williams' heart ached.
Senate Bill/House Bill 76, also known as the Property Tax Independence Act, sponsored by state Sen. David G. Argall, would eliminate the property tax and replace it with increases in sales and use taxes.
The proposal, which is currently in the Senate Finance Committee, would raise the sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent (an increase of about 16 percent), and the personal income tax from 3.07 percent to 4.34 percent (an increase of about 41 percent).
A bipartisan panel of lawmakers, school officials, real estate professionals and tax reform advocates gathered at Lehighton Borough hall last Thursday to debate how to balance property tax relief with the financial needs of school districts.
T he state's 2006 plan to use gaming revenue to help offset school taxes, known as the Taxpayer Relief Act, levies a 34 percent tax on slot machine revenues.
This year, school districts are expected to receive about $611.5 million of that money to offset property taxes. The money goes to school districts, and is used to reduce tax bills for property owners enrolled in the homestead/farmstead exclusion program. The average homeowner sees about $200 shaved from her bill.
The United States is poised to plunge into flu season, with millions of people suffering the coughing, body aches, headaches, sore throats and fatigue wrought by the potentially deadly viruses.
But the federal agency charged with tracking, monitoring and analyzing seasonal flu activity has been laid low by the partial government shutdown that began Oct. 1.
The shutdown has greatly impeded the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention's handling of seasonal flu, says Dr. Barbara Reynolds, who is the CDC's crisis communication specialist.
A Monroe County legislator aims to snuff out smoking, and the use of the increasingly popular electronic cigarettes, on restaurant decks, hotel rooms and other places that are now exceptions from the state's smoking laws.
State Rep. Mario Scavello, R-Monroe, recently introduced House Bill 1485, which he says would strengthen the Clean Indoor Air Act by eliminating the exceptions, and allowing local governments to create their own smoke-free ordinances.
The changes are aimed at saving lives, he said in a June press conference in Harrisburg.
The state House of Representatives on June 5 adopted a resolution aimed at preventing child abuse. The resolution, written by state Rep. Julie Harhart, R-Northampton/Lehigh, calls for a joint state government commission to study child abuse and neglect prevention programs in Pennsylvania and the nation.