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IUP Digs Into Blairsville, Find Artifacts 8K Years Old

On today's program: Parishoners call for change in the Pittsburgh Diocese; Lancaster is one of Pennsylvania’s fastest-growing counties, in part because of Amish population growth; local archaeologists find evidence of a community 8,000 years old; and RMU's price match program expands beyond the Pittsburgh area.

Changes to the Pittsburgh Diocese may have to start in Rome
(0:00 — 10:49) 

A grand jury report released in 2018 detailed years of child sex abuse by Catholic clergy. It shook the faith of many devotees, including one lay leader who says the church’s future has to include greater transparency, oversight and consequences for those who acted criminally—or failed to prevent criminal acts—in the past.

"We feel that the justice for the victims outweighs protecting the institution of the Church," says Kevin Hayes, chairperson for the advocacy group Catholics for Change in Our Church.

Hayes says members differ on whether Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik should continue leading the diocese, but have agreed on changes like diversifying the clergy to include more women and discussed the possibility of married priests. Hayes admits the sort of changes the group is calling for may have to start with the Vatican, and that takes time.

"Rome wasn't built in a day, it's not going to change in a day either," he says. 

Lancaster is experiencing an Amish population boom
(12:08 — 17:30) 

The United States’ population is growing at its slowest rate since the Great Depression, but one group with a strong presence in central Pennsylvania—the Amish community—has expanded much faster. It’s growing at about six times the rate of the general population. WITF’s Rachel McDevitt spoke to members of the Amish and non-Amish communities to see how that growth is putting pressure on everyone.

Humans have lived in Blairsville longer than we thought
(17:33 — 34:00) 

A group of students and professors from Indiana University of Pennsylvania discovered something unexpected while working on an archaeological dig near Blairsville Borough—artifacts from 8,000 years ago.

Anthropology professors Ben Ford and Bill Chadwick oversaw 17 IUP students for six weeks while they dug, mapped and explored Newport Village, which thrived from 1790 to 1820 near where Black Lick Creek meets the Conemaugh River.

Students Nadia Meister and Jamie Kouba were among the group that found stone debris, arrowheads, redware and pearlware artifacts, a corner of a building, square nails, a portion of road and the remnants of an intersection.

Ford says the excavation site, perched on the line between modern day Westmoreland and Indiana counties, is ideal for student training because it hosts a range of artifacts spanning centures. Meister is looking forward to getting their finds back to the lab. 

"We've got a lot of really interesting pieces like printware with cool designs on it," she says, "and it'd be really cool to see, you know, how did this get here? How did such a wide arrange of things end up in the same spot?"

Ford says the study will continue in the lab throughout the academic year.

RMU expands its "Public Price Match Plus" scholarship program
— 38:35)

The program, available to incoming students in the fall of 2020, will "price match" the lower tuition costs of West Virginia University and Kent State University, and offer an additional $3,000 scholarship to sweeten the deal. Robert Morris University first launched the program to qualified in-state freshmen accepted to the University of Pittsburgh and Penn State University this year.

Wendy Beckemeyer, vice president of enrollment management, says programs like these help RMU compete against other schools in an aggressive tuition market. She says the school might consider expanding the program again in the future. 

90.5 WESA's Julia Zenkevich, Julia Maruca and Hannah Gaskill contributed to this program.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Kiley Koscinski covers city government, policy and how Pittsburghers engage with city services. She also works as a fill-in host for All Things Considered. Kiley has previously served as a producer on The Confluence and Morning Edition.
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