A week ago on this page, we called for leaders to emerge to help guide our region out of the shadow cast by the Freeh report into Penn States handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse allegations.
We knew more challenges would arise, requiring a strong effort from residents and key individuals across our region. It didnt take long for that to happen.
That Sunday morning, more controversy was added to the mix as Penn State took down the statue of the late Joe Paterno outside Beaver Stadium.
Then on Monday, our community was rocked by NCAA sanctions levied against Penn State because of the Sandusky scandal and cover-up by top university officials.
And from that lowest of low points, a positive movement began.
Leaders stepped forward. They included Penn State President Rodney Erickson, football coach Bill OBrien and other university officials who took strong stances and spoke with conviction of finding a way to move ahead.
They included Penn State players, who voiced support for the program and each other.
And they include local merchants and elected officials, who are banding together to formulate plans for whatever fallout the NCAA penalties bring our way.
This response is exactly what our region needed.
Two meetings were held last week by business leaders.
On Tuesday, some 30 business representatives gathered at the Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau for a brainstorming session.
They concluded that the region is in need of an image upgrade, that outsiders now equate Happy Valley with child abuse rather than the many great features the region has to offer.
There is a distorted view thats being perpetrated about the community, said Accu- Weathers Evan Myers.
Myers said many are grieving for Sanduskys victims and for Penn State. But, he said, the region cant move forward without understanding the reality of what has happened here.
We cant be in denial of the crimes, he said, even as we recognize that our community faces risks and must react by extolling our shared attributes.
We agree, and we applaud that approach.
Likewise, we support those who say that while the region will always be dependent upon Penn State as its lead economic driver, we must seek out diverse commerce areas as well.
That was one theme that emerged from a Thursday gathering hosted by the Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County.
CBICC President Vern Squier said unity will lead to healing and then a bright future despite the recent difficult news.
Paul Silvis, of SilcoTek, who is a Penn State trustee, added: Companies destroy themselves from the inside out. Now is the time to run together.
While much work remains, we appreciate the positive attitude we see rippling across the community.
Leadership will be the key to making the words of the past week grow into positive action.
Mike Desmond of the Hotel State College group attended both sessions, and also helped lead a poster project aimed at increasing support for the current Penn State football team and elevating good will.
Desmond said he sees a lot more optimism about the future of the State College community, and additional determination to try to endeavor to have a more accurate story unfold nationwide.
After joining a full house at the CBICC meeting, state Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, R-Bellefonte, observed: Its already reflective that the community does care.
This is a start, a spark of light in a dark time. Much work remains.
We pledge to be among the regions leaders and to do our part in helping this community rebound from setbacks that might destroy a region of lesser resolve.
Together, we will move forward.