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USA Today Network employees, both locals and newbies, talk through some of central Pennsylvania’s most difficult places to pronounce. Joel Shannon, USA Today Network
Teaching the Bible in public schools “used to be very allowed and very legal,” says Joy El Ministries executive director Aaron Zeibarth. Now, Pa. public schools must allow students to leave and voluntarily receive religious education. Chris Dunn, York Daily Record
There are some questionably-named places around the state. One state representative has repeatedly introduced legislation to change the controversial name of a mountain in Somerset County. Rick Lee and Sean Heisey, York Daily Record
A historical figure whose roots are connected to St. Nicholas, the Belsnickel is a character Rick Brouse has been portraying for over two decades. Jason Plotkin, York Daily Record
David Tringali has created a youth program at the Trinity Lutheran Church that incorporates wrestling with his lessons of faith.
Quiz yourself on these officially designated state symbols of Pennsylvania. Wochit
Habecker Mennonite Church in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, has only a few dozen local members. But on Sunday morning, resettled refugees fill the church with song and love. Joel Shannon, York Daily Record
The National Weather Service collects severe weather data from all over the country to track weather patterns. Sean Heisey, York Daily Record
A photo from the Drug Enforcement Administration shows how a small amount of fentanyl can be lethal. Carfentanil is 100 times more potent and evidence suggests it is making it’s way to the streets of Pennsylvania.
For years the only way to get marijuana was to grow it at home illegally or buy it on the black market. But today 205 million Americans live in a state where marijuana is legal for either recreational or medical use. Kristen Hwang/The Desert Sun
Selling alcoholic beverages in Pennsylvania requires a liquor license or permit. But the state limits one liquor license for every 3,000 residents. When one goes up for sale they can attract a lot of attention, driving up prices. Sean Heisey, York Daily Record
Since 2008, Dallastown teacher Lori Riddle has been organizing the club to benefit students struggling with LGBT issues. Here, they meet for the final time during the 2016-17 school year. Wochit
A senator has proposed the eastern hellbender as the state amphibian of Pennsylvania. Eileen Joyce, York Daily Record
Tired of the side effects that came with multiple prescription medications, Angela Sharrer of New Oxford has been using hemp oil to help her daughter Annie, 12, with her epileptic seizures. Jason Plotkin, York Daily Record
2017 was a great year for the stock market. But stocks for top businesses headquartered in Pennsylvania didn’t fair so well.
On Jan. 5, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was more than 25 percent higher than a year ago. The NASDAQ was up nearly 30 percent.
But stocks for the 20 top Pennsylvania companies, as ranked by the Fortune 500 list, were flat — They averaged just slightly less than a year ago.
That list includes some well-known Pennsylvania businesses, such as Philadelphia-based Comcast (which was up about 16 percent) and Camp Hill-based Rite Aid (which was down about 75 percent).
It also includes some businesses with less regional recognition, including Genesis Healthcare — a company headquartered in Kennett Square, that holds “approximately 450 skilled nursing centers and senior living communities in 29 states nationwide,” according to its website. Its stock dropped 80 percent over the past year.
Nationally, stock market gains have been fueled by a global economic recovery and optimism surrounding the Republican tax-cut bill.
But some of the top Pennsylvania businesses are much smaller than those in national indexes.
For example, the Pennsylvania list is rounded out by Toll Brothers — a luxury home builder based in Horsham that employs 4,200, according to Fortune. Its stock is up nearly 60 percent since January 2017.
Meanwhile, the Dow Jones 30-stock index includes leading U.S. companies such as Apple, McDonald’s and Wal-Mart.
Pa.’s top companies stock gains and losses:
Data from Google Finance, Yahoo Finance and MSN Money. Yearly differences calculated from Jan. 5, 2017, to Jan, 5, 2018.
Rite Aid: -74.6%
Kraft Heinz: -11.0%
PNC Financial Services Group: +23.2%
PPG Industries: +22.8%
Lincoln National: +18.1%
Universal Health Services: +3.7%
United States Steel: +4.9%
Air Products & Chemicals: +16.6%
Crown Holdings: +5.5%
Dick’s Sporting Goods: -43.6%
WESCO International: -2.0%
Erie Insurance Group: +6.8%
Genesis Healthcare: -82.3%
Toll Brothers: +57.3%
PA average: -0.2%
Dow Jones Industrial Average: +26.0%
Adam Shell, writing for USA TODAY, contributed to this report