Begos took a different approach in writing a story ahead of the 125th anniversary of the Johnstown Flood, producing a series of nuggets _ in an extended glance form _ on some of the more interesting facts about the disaster, which claimed over 2,000 lives. Among them: Debris including floating houses, barns and barged wire from a damaged factory backed up at a stone bridge at Johnstown, 15 miles downstream from the dam – creating a 30-acre pile that caught fire, trapping many of those who had survived the initial flood and burning them to death.
Allentown reporter Mike Rubinkam wrote probably one of the most widely read stories to come out of Pennsylvania during the month, a piece examining parental frustration at trying to help their children deal with Common Core math. His story drew thousands of comments on Yahoo. His lead: “An Iowa woman jokingly calls it ‘Satan's handiwork.’ A California mom says she's broken down in tears. A Pennsylvania parent says it ‘makes my blood boil.’ What could be so horrible? Grade-school math.”
Rubinkam also contributed to an AP package on D-Day, writing a first-person piece about the five uncles who served overseas, regretting that they never talked about it and he never asked. In the story, he wrote about his efforts to pull out some details from his last surviving uncle.
Here’s how his story began:
AMBLER, Pa. _ My mother is the second-youngest of 14 children, and her five eldest siblings served overseas in World War II. They were our version of the famed Sullivan brothers, but with a happy ending: All made it home.
Though one brother died in a 1948 car crash, I grew up around the other four, seeing them most every Sunday after church while my grandmother was still living, and at family picnics that inevitably featured volleyball, Aunt Betty's decadent cakes, and the low roar of two dozen simultaneous conversations.
Regrettably, in all that talk, I never got around to asking my uncles about their wartime service. I'd been meaning to. I just never did.
Philadelphia reporter Maryclaire Dale wrote a takeout on how some local judges are refusing to put some youthful sex offenders on lifetime sex-offender registries. The judges, she reported, are increasingly agreeing with juvenile law advocates who say such lifetime branding undermines the whole rehabilitative purpose of juvenile law.