OK then. This isn’t your little brother’s laser tag.
At least if he’s 9 or younger. Kevin Walter, the co-owner of BaseTactics, likens his outdoor, tactical laser tag business to “Call of Duty.” Like the popular video game, it is geared toward older players — participants must be 10 or older — and offers a slew of different weapon emulations.
Unlike the video game, however, it requires a fair amount of physical exertion. The laser guns, which fire the length of one to three football fields, have some heft. When toting them around the forested map Walter and his wife, Erin, have created, breaking a sweat is nearly unavoidable.
The couple started the company last summer. Walter estimated the group has done about 50 private parties since then.
The group conducted an event in May at Bucknell University for the school’s graduating class. It was a hit with the students.
“Our biggest challenge is getting over the stereotype of what laser tag is,” Kevin Walter, 31, said.
The concept sprang from a birthday present: About four years ago, Erin took Kevin to play an iteration of the game when the pair were living in Colorado.
“That was a really cool birthday gift from my wife,” Kevin Walter said. “We all had a blast. Then we thought this was something we could do.”
In celebration of its anniversary on Sunday, BaseTactics is hosting a $5 open play from 11 a.m. to dusk at its 1100 Benner Pike location in State College. The company hosts drop-in hours on Sundays for up to 24 players at a time.
County ranks 4th in state for health outcomes
Mount Nittany Health, in partnership with three other Centre County organizations, recently released the 2016 Community Health Needs Assessment, a report on the state of health in Centre County. Conducted every three years, the assessment helps inform future funding and action plans regarding community health.
Centre County ranks fourth among the state’s 67 counties in health outcomes, according to the assessment. Health outcomes are based on factors such as length and quality of life, self-reported health status and premature death rates.
The CHNA also found that Centre County adults report lower instances of binge drinking and smoking compared with other counties and the nation.
But there are areas for improvement, the CHNA reported, including behavioral health, substance abuse and chronic disease. According to the assessment, drug-and-alcohol-related crime rates are highest in Centre County compared with surrounding counties and the state, while the suicide and drug-induced death rates have increased in each reporting period since 2006.
“Our hope is that the assessment is used far and wide by townships, boroughs, human service and health organizations, county government and citizens to shape the future of our community,” Natalie Corman, the human services and deputy county administrator for Centre County, said in a release.
The CHNA partners will develop an action plan based on the report’s findings in the coming weeks. After it is approved by the Mount Nittany Health Board of Trustees, the plan will be made available to the public in September.
The assessment was conducted in collaboration with Centre Foundation, Centre County United Way and Centre County Partnership for Community Health.
Partnership to bring low-cost internet service
Though about three-quarters of American households have internet access, those numbers are skewed heavily by income and level of education.
According to the Census 2013 American Community Survey, about 90 percent of head of households who had attained a bachelor’s degree or higher had internet access. And as income goes up, so too do rates of going online. Annual earners of $30,000 or less are six times as likely not to go online as those making $75,000 or more, Pew Research Center reported.
Comcast and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently partnered to help bridge the gap, often dubbed the “digital divide.” Working with HUD’s ConnectHome initiative, which brings greater access and digital literacy to families with school-age children who live in HUD-assisted housing, Comcast is offering low-cost internet service to such families.
According to a release, the company estimates up to 2 million HUD-assisted homes will now have access offered through the program, known as Internet Essentials.
“This is the single largest expansion of the Internet Essentials program in its history,” David Cohen, Comcast’s senior executive vice president and chief diversity officer, said in a release, “and we’re thrilled to be working with HUD to help connect even more families, including seniors, veterans and adults without children, to the transformative power of having internet service at home.”
Comcast has expanded eligibility for the program nine times in the past half decade. This year’s changes include offering access to any family receiving HUD assistance or living in state or locally subsidized public housing. Previously, eligibility was limited to families with children eligible for the National School Lunch Program.
Pennsylvania has 164,000 HUD-assisted households, the fourth-highest in the country. Philadelphia (35,000) and Pittsburgh (20,000) both fall within the top 10 cities, being ranked second and 10th respectively.
Roger Van Scyoc: 814-231-4698, @rogervanscy