Pennsylvania Decade in Review

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A tragic plane crash and a dramatic mine rescue, a shockingschoolhouse massacre and a breathtaking juvenile justice scandal -not to mention a historic presidential election.

The headlines of the past 10 years were frightening, upliftingand life-changing as Pennsylvanians witnessed lost children found,a landmark evolution debate, and the ka-ching of slot machinesthroughout the state.


The decade started with the national spotlight on Philadelphiaas George W. Bush accepted the presidential nomination at theRepublican National Convention. A year later, he was thrown intothe greatest crisis of his term when terrorists attacked the U.S.on Sept. 11, 2001.

One hijacked plane, United Flight 93, crashed into a field nearShanksville, Pa., after passengers revolted against their captors.Bush later tapped Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge as the first U.S.secretary of homeland security.

Western Pennsylvania again riveted the nation's attention in2002 as rescuers frantically worked to save nine men trapped in theflooded Quecreek coal mine. After 77 hours, all were hoisted tosafety.

The cameras returned to focus on the most private of communitiesin 2006 after a disturbed milk-truck driver burst into an Amishschoolhouse in Nickel Mines and shot 10 girls, five fatally.Charles Carl Roberts IV then killed himself.

A year earlier, a courtroom in Harrisburg hosted one of thebiggest clashes between faith and evolution since the Scopes MonkeyTrial decades earlier.

This time, evolution won. A federal judge barred the Doverpublic schools from teaching "intelligent design" in biologyclass, saying the concept is creationism in disguise.

And in a still-unfolding scandal in Luzerne County, two judgeswere charged in a cash-for-kids scam in which authorities say theytook kickbacks to place teens in juvenile facilities.

The state's economy was forever changed in 2004 after theLegislature approved slot-machine casinos. The first opened nearWilkes-Barre two years later; lawmakers are now considering addingtable games.


Gov. Ed Rendell and a 2005 legislative pay-raise debacle shapedpolitics in Pennsylvania like nothing else during the decade.

Rendell became the first Philadelphian to win the governorshipin 88 years in a campaign in which he shattered state fundraisingrecords. Two years later, the Legislature's clandestine vote tofatten their salaries became the catalyst for the ouster of twodozen incumbents and an ongoing corruption probe that has resultedin the arrests of 25 people connected to the House ofRepresentatives.

Pennsylvanians supported the election of Barack Obama, thenation's first black president, in 2008. The commonwealth wentDemocratic in all three presidential elections this decade,possibly ending its "swing state" status.

Thousands of Pennsylvania troops shipped off to Iraq andAfghanistan in the "war against terror" and al-Qaida. LongtimeDemocratic Rep. John Murtha, a Vietnam veteran from Johnstown, madewaves by calling for soldiers to come home from Iraq in 2005.

In 2006, Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta led a crackdown on illegalimmigrants and those who house and employ them. The town'sordinances were later struck down, but Barletta is now making histhird bid for Congress.

Pittsburgh hosted the Group of 20 international economic summitin 2009, highlighting its rebound from a struggling former steelcity to an incubator for "green" businesses.


York Mayor Charlie Robertson and eight other white men werecharged in 2001 in the fatal shooting of a black woman during cityrace riots in 1969. Two men were convicted; Robertson wasacquitted. Today, York has its first black mayor.

Philadelphia prosecutors got a long-awaited victory in 2002.Former hippie guru Ira Einhorn had spent nearly 17 years on the lamin Europe after his girlfriend's body was discovered in a trunk inthe couple's apartment. Found in France and extradited to the U.S.,Einhorn is now serving a life sentence.

Suspected multiple-murderer Hugo Selenski was acquitted of twokillings but still faces trial in two others. Authorities foundbetween five and 12 sets of human remains found on Selenski'sproperty outside Wilkes-Barre in 2003.

Authorities have spent years trying untangle a bank robbery plotin Erie that ended with a pizza deliveryman being killed by a bomblocked around his neck. So far, one man has pleaded guilty and thealleged mastermind, Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, awaits trial.


Philadelphia-based Comcast, the nation's largest cable operator,is poised to become a huge player in the entertainment industry asit announced plans this month to buy a majority stake in NBCUniversal. That would give Comcast control of the TV network, anarray of cable channels and a major movie studio.

Contrast that with Coudersport-based Adelphia. Once the nation'sfifth-biggest cable company, Adelphia collapsed into bankruptcy in2002 after prosecutors accused its founding family of using it astheir personal piggy bank. Founder John Rigas and son Timothy arenow serving prison sentences.

Erie got good news in 2007 after an anonymous benefactor donated$100 million to 46 nonprofit groups in the city.

But the future remains unclear for two major newspapers inPhiladelphia. The owner of the Inquirer and Daily News filed forbankruptcy protection last February.

In entertainment news, reality proved more compelling thanreality TV for Jon and Kate Gosselin, the stars of " Jon & KatePlus 8." Their imploding marriage drew more cameras than the TLCshow about their eight children - twins and sextuplets - filmed attheir home in Wernersville.

Scranton became a Mecca for fans of the quirky NBC hit comedy"The Office." Home to the fictional Dunder Mifflin paper company,the city drew thousands of pilgrims to the inaugural "OfficeConvention" in 2007.

And a judge ruled in a years-long battle that the BarnesFoundation could move its multibillion-dollar art collection todowntown Philadelphia from suburban Lower Merion.


Philadelphia mother Luzaida Cuevas thought her days-old infantdied in a fire in 1997. But in 2004, she was reunited with herdaughter, Delimar Vera, who had been kidnapped and raised byanother woman in New Jersey.

Tanya Kach resurfaced in 2006 after a 10-year disappearance. Sheran away at 14 to live in McKeesport with Thomas Hose, then a37-year-old security guard at her school; she says he kept heragainst her will. Kach eventually revealed her situation to a localdeli owner.

Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar mysteriouslydisappeared in 2005, nine months before he was to retire. Thoughhis car and laptop have been found, Gricar remains missing.

An FBI bug was discovered in Philadelphia Mayor John Street'soffice in 2003. Street was never charged, but prosecutors laterearned a string of City Hall corruption convictions.

And a man behind bars for 14 years in suburban Philadelphia in adivorce dispute was released. H. Beatty Chadwick, accused of hiding$2.5 million from his ex-wife, was jailed for not disclosing itswhereabouts. Chadwick maintains he lost the money in badinvestments.


The state witnessed a string of mass killings.

Richard Baumhammers and Ronald Taylor killed several people in apair of unrelated race-based shooting sprees two months apart insuburban Pittsburgh in 2000.

A gang of masked men fatally shot seven people and wounded threein a Lex Street drug house in Philadelphia because someone burnedout the clutch on one man's car.

Jesse Wise killed six relatives and hid their bodies in thebasement of the home he shared with them in Leola. He offered noexplanation when he was sentenced to life in prison in 2007.

Charles Cullen, a nurse who gave lethal injections to 29patients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey over several years, wasalso sentenced to life in prison.

George Sodini, a troubled misogynist, opened fire on an aerobicsclass at a suburban Pittsburgh health club earlier this year. Hekilled three women and wounded nine others before committingsuicide.


The Philadelphia area lost a trio of luminaries this year.

Painter Andrew Wyeth, 91, died at home in Chadds Ford. Hismelancholy work focused on the people and landscapes ofPennsylvania's Brandywine Valley and coastal Maine in works such as"Christina's World."

Philanthropist Leonore Annenberg, also 91, was an arts patronand the widow of billionaire publisher Walter Annenberg. Her givingspanned the nation but was felt especially in Philadelphia at theorchestra, art museum and University of Pennsylvania.

And baseball announcer Harry Kalas, 73, collapsed in thebroadcast booth before a Phillies game against the WashingtonNationals. The broadcaster known for his signature "Outta here!"home run calls had been the team's voice since 1971.

In Pittsburgh, Fred Rogers - known to millions of children as"Mister Rogers" - died of stomach cancer in 2003. And colorful Steelers announcer Myron Cope, 79, died in 2008.

Pittsburgh lost its mayor in 2006 when Bob O'Connor died ofbrain cancer. His death led to City Council President LukeRavenstahl, then 26, becoming the youngest mayor of a major Ravenstahl was elected in his own right in 2007.

The state's first female lieutenant governor, Catherine BakerKnoll, died of complications from cancer in 2008. She had alsoserved two terms as state treasurer.


Then there was Barbaro. After Philly-area horse Smarty Jonescame within a length of winning the Triple Crown in 2004, Barbarotook up the challenge. He won the 2006 Kentucky Derby by 6-1/2lengths, but broke down in the Preakness.

The nation rallied behind the bay colt as he underwent months oftreatment for his catastrophic leg injury in suburban Philadelphia.But it was all too much. Barbaro was euthanized in 2007.

On the gridiron, the Pittsburgh Steelers won the Super Bowltwice this decade, while the Penguins brought home the Stanley Cupearlier this year.

Philadelphia finally broke its 25-year championship drought whenthe Phillies won the World Series in 2008.

And Joe Paterno rebounded from a broken leg - suffered after oneof his own players ran into him - to continue his now 44-yearfootball coaching career at Penn State.

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