Pennsylvania

Essential Pittsburgh
6:56 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Pennsylvania Cautiously Boosts Speed Limit

A 1940 speed limit sign for the Pennsylvania turnpike, which is now as low as 55 mph in some areas.
Credit Ann Rosener / Library of Congress/Wikipedia

The Pennsylvania Turnpike, like a young driver, has a history of suddenly speeding up and slowing down.

In the 1940’s, the speed limit was 70, which was dropped to 65 during World War II. It shot back up to 70 in the 1950’s but the gas shortage of the late 1970’s led the speed limit to be cut all the way down to 55 mph.

Now, the speed limit is 65 and will soon be boosted to 70 on interstate roads, following a trial period on carefully chosen roads, including a section of the turnpike between Blue Mountain exit 201, and Morgantown exit 298.

With a speed limit of 70 mph already in Ohio and West Virginia, is it about time for PA to match up with neighboring states? Renee Vid Colborn, Manager of Media and Public Relations at the PA Turnpike Commission and State Senator Jay Costa addressed the pros and cons of an increased speed limit for area highways.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:56 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

The Governor's Jobs 1st Summit Coming to Pittsburgh

The "titans of industry" will be speaking at a jobs summit taking place next month, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry Secretary. Julia Hearthway said the "Governor's Jobs 1st Summit" will be speaking to employers about making sure their workforce is ready to embrace a changing industry landscape. She said it will also feature a discussion between Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and business magnate T. Boone Pickens.

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Act 47
10:46 am
Fri June 6, 2014

Another PA City to be Declared "Distressed"

While City Council and Mayor Bill Peduto try to finalize a third, 5-year recovery plan for Pittsburgh under Act 47, the city of Shamokin in Northumberland County will soon become the 21st municipality in the commonwealth currently declared financially distressed.

"This is a financial mess," says Shamokin City Clerk Robert Slaby.

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Fishing
4:07 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Free Fishing Opportunity During Holiday

Families and friends enjoying the outdoors on Memorial Day now have the opportunity to add free fishing to their plans.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is offering a “fish-for-free” day on Monday during which individuals can fish in state waters without a license.

Typically, a one-day license would cost $11.70 for a PA resident and $26.70 for a visitor. However, on Memorial Day, residents and non-residents alike can enjoy the sport free of charge.

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Pennsylvania
3:57 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Penn State Fans Plan New Statue Of Joe Paterno

With one Joe Paterno statue in storage, fans of the late Penn State football coach are commissioning a new one to be placed across from the university.

A State College, Pa., restaurant owner says he's interested in having the new statue put in front of his establishment.

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Pennsylvania
2:21 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

Winter Slushes Along, But Do We Have Enough Salt?

Temperatures are expected to plummet from now until Thursday with light snow showers scattered throughout the region, and some are worried the salt supplies won’t last.

Despite rumors of a potential salt shortage, city and state officials say they’re doing everything they can to keep the roads clear.

PennDOT spokesman Steve Cowan said the state is ordering more salt to keep up with the high demand.

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Pennsylvania
12:15 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Allegheny Ice Jam to Break Free

The subzero temperatures this week brought not only frostbitten fingers and high heating bills, but a major ice jam along the Allegheny River.

Now, another shift in weather is expected to send the blockage downstream.

The quarter mile long buildup is thought to be 5-to-6-feet high and is located just upriver from New Kensington’s Ninth Street Bridge.

The National Weather Service is predicting mild rainfall this weekend and temperatures are expected to exceed 50 degrees.

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Pennsylvania
12:14 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

PA Gets "B" On March Of Dimes Report Card

Pennsylvania’s preterm birth rate dropped from 11% to 10.8%, earning another “B” on the March of Dimes Foundation’s annual report card.

The state also earned a gold star for bringing late preterm births, babies born between 34 and 37 weeks, down to 7.4% and reducing the percentage of uninsured woman of child-bearing age and the number of female smokers.

But this isn’t something to run home and hang on the fridge.

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Pennsylvania
12:23 pm
Mon October 28, 2013

PA Bat Population Continues To Fall

Little Brown Bat with deadly White Nose Syndrome
Credit Marvin Moriarty/US Fish and Wildlife Service

The cave-dwelling bat population in Pennsylvania is continuing its free-fall, according to the state Game Commission, which trapped only 10 bats at Long Run Mine earlier this month as part of a population study.

The survey assessed 10 caves across the state and the low returns lead endangered mammal specialists like Greg Turner to believe 98 percent of all cave bats are dead.

Long Run Mine, which runs along of the border of Butler and Armstrong counties, was once the largest bat cave in the state. But Turner said that’s not the case anymore.

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Pennsylvania
12:51 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

Conservation Center Breaks Ground On Elephant Barn

Pennsylvania’s Somerset County isn’t exactly the African Savanna, but as many as 20 elephants could be calling it home in the next few years.

The International Conservation Center broke ground Saturday on a 1-acre elephant cow and calf barn, to add to the 724-acre facility.

Pittsburgh Zoo CEO Barbara Baker said the barn will focus on elephant breeding to try and combat the declining population.

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:55 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

State Parks Remain Open & Ready for Visitors

Ohiopyle State Park on an autumn day
Credit Brook Ward / flickr

While Washington remains at a standstill and many national parks have closed their gates, travel contributor Elaine Labalme suggests an alternative trip to the many American state parks. She says autumn is the perfect season to see some beautiful nature only a short drive away!

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Pennsylvania
3:30 am
Mon August 19, 2013

State Attorney General Pressing on with Assisted Suicide Case

The state attorney general shows no sign of budging from the prosecution of a woman who allegedly helped her elderly father end his life in Schuylkill County.

Barbara Mancini of Philadelphia is being charged with a felony count after she admitted to handing her 93-year-old father, a hospice patient, enough morphine to end his life.
    
An end-of-life planning advocacy group is asking the AG’s office to drop the case.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:14 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

Legislation Could Eliminate School Property Tax

Credit Tim Lambert / WITF

After a year of review, Pennsylvania House Representative Jim Cox reintroduced House Bill 76 outlining the benefits of eliminating the school property tax in the Commonwealth. With 91 co-sponsors in the House and 22 in the Senate, Rep. Cox is confident the bill will appeal to both legislators and tax-payers. Matthew Knittel, director of the Independent Fiscal Office, has reviewed versions of the bill and says from a revenue perspective, the bill could be made to work in certain parts of the state.

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Pennsylvania
8:16 am
Wed August 14, 2013

Running of the Bulls Recreation Coming to PA's Berks County Next Summer

A Pamplona-inspired running of the bulls is coming to Pennsylvania next summer.

A Berks County raceway is hosting the event, a recreation of the Spanish tradition.

Rob Dickens, one of the organizers behind the Great Bull Run, is staging events across the country beginning this month.     

He said the bulls run not because they’re angry, but because they’re trained – though he doesn’t imagine that will diminish the adrenaline rush for runners.

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Pittsburgh
10:29 am
Wed August 7, 2013

Pittsburgh Zoo Fails To Get Mauling Lawsuit Tossed

A judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit in the fatal mauling death of a 2-year-old boy who fell into a wild African dogs exhibit at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.

Zoo attorneys argued a strict liability claim should not go forward, saying there's no "abnormal risk to the public" when people have a chance to view wild animals.

But Allegheny County Judge Paul Lutty agreed with attorneys for the Jason and Elizabeth Derkosh that the risk can't be determined until both sides exchange evidence before trial.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:40 pm
Wed July 31, 2013

Former Penn State Adminstrators to Stand Trial

The trial of the three former administrators will take place near Harrisburg

Following two days of preliminary hearings, Former Penn State president Graham Spanier, former vice president Gary Schultz and ex-athletic director Tim Curley will go to trial in what has been called the worst scandal in college football history. Bob Dvorchak, author of the book “Game Over” has written about the Jerry Sandusky child abuse case, and says this is not at all a surprise.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:53 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

The Passing of Former Governor William Scranton

William Scranton was a Republican politician with a unique outlook on the role of government.
Credit Congressional Pictorial Directory / Wikipedia

William Scranton, former Republican governor of Pennsylvania, died Sunday night at the age of 96. He served as governor from 1962-66, carrying a political outlook that has set him apart from his political party, both then and now.

According to Terry Madonna, Director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin and Marshall College, Scranton’s approach to governing was that of a “Kennedy Republican,” one who believed that the government should play an active role in helping the lives of others. Though Scranton was a man who was, as Madonna puts it “born to the manor,” or born into exorbitant wealth, he was instilled with a sense of responsibility for his community at an early age.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:31 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

ACLU of Pennsylvania Sues Commonwealth on Behalf of Same-Sex Couples & Families

ACLU Pennsylvania has filed a federal lawsuit against the state's ban on same-sex marriage.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Two weeks after the Supreme Court of the United States overturned key provisions in the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania has filed a federal lawsuit to overturn the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The 23 plaintiffs, including 10 same-sex couples, one widow, and two teenage children of one of the couples, say they've seen firsthand the inequality of PA law in its discrimination against same-sex couples. 

ACLU Staff Attorney Molly Tack-Hooper and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh, Anthony Infanti, weigh in on the legality of the lawsuit and the path for equality in Pennsylvania paved by the repeal of DOMA.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:00 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

Micek On ACLU Lawsuit, "Payday Loans" & PennDOT's Lost Construction Season

Many issues still remain unaddressed in the PA legislature.
Credit Tim Lambert / WITF

In the wake of Governor Corbett’s budget signing and the Supreme Court’s overturn of the Defense of Marriage Act, John Micek Opinions Editor of the Harrisburg Patriot-News explains the many pressing issues at the state level. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
8:40 pm
Wed July 3, 2013

Pittsburghers Spent The Summer of 1863 Preparing For The Confederate Army

Designed by Benjamin H. Latrobe and constructed in 1814, the Arsenal was used as a military garrison in the manufacturing and storing of supplies during the Civil War, Indian Wars, and Spanish-American War.
Credit University of Pittsburgh Libraries / flickr

Paint a picture of Pittsburgh in the summer of 1863 and it becomes evident why many once thought the city could be a target for an attack from the Confederate Army.

The Steel City housed scores of factories and foundries as well as the Allegheny Arsenal in Lawrenceville. All of these industries were ideal for producing war materials.  A take over of the city could provide the South with equipment and resources that other Pennsylvania cities, such as Harrisburg, could not supply. This industry coupled with its placement as a transportation hub at the three rivers allowed the city to stand out to many prominent figures of the period, including President Abraham Lincoln.

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Essential Pittsburgh
8:29 pm
Wed July 3, 2013

Unsung Heroes of Western Pennsylvania During Civil War

Pittsburgh's Martin Robison Delany became highest ranking African American officer of a field regiment during war in U.S. history
Credit Wikimedia Commons / National Portait Gallery Washington

While Pittsburgh was never a battleground during the Civil War, there are many little known “unsung heroes” from the Pittsburgh area that made a significant impact in the 1860’s. Heinz History Center's "Pennsylvania's Civil War" lead curator and historian, Leslie Przybylek, shares the stories of three Pittsburghers that you may not have read about in your history books.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:52 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

State Budget Passed by Deadline, No News On Most Pressing Legislation

Budget passed just before the Sunday deadline
Credit 90.5 WESA

Following a “bad weekend” with the collapse of his agenda, Governor Tom Corbett signed a nearly $29 billion state budget Sunday night.  Controversial issues including liquor privatization and allocations for transportation funding remain in the Legislature until the fall, prompting a close examination of these pressing topics and the motivations behind both parties in both the House and Senate.

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History
3:30 am
Fri June 28, 2013

Re-enactments to Bring Gettysburg to Life for 150th Anniversary

The Battle of Gettysburg was fought 150 years ago, and thousands of people will mark the occasion through re-enactments, workshops, performances and more.
Credit J. Todd Poling / Flickr

It was 150 years ago that the battle considered to be the turning point of the Civil War took place in a field in Pennsylvania.

Each year, thousands of people re-enact the Battle of Gettysburg, and thousands turn out to watch. This year, for the 150th anniversary, the events will be even larger than normal.

“There’ll be two major re-enactments probably attracting 12,000 to 15,000 re-enactors each, and then hundreds of thousands of spectators,” said Andy Masich, president and CEO of the Heinz History Center.  

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:48 pm
Thu June 6, 2013

Defending Joe Paterno and Challenging the Freeh Report

Former PA Governor and Attorney General Dick Thornburgh
Credit Dominic McDevit / Wikipedia

    

Former Pennsylvania Governor Dick Thornburgh feels former FBI director Louis Freeh's investigation of the Jerry Sandusky abuse case was not conclusively supported by evidence. The Penn State case marked the first time the NCAA punished an institution solely for transgressions related to a criminal matter.

The family of former coach Joe Paterno and other plaintiffs sued the NCAA last week, accusing the organization of intentionally defaming and commercially disparaging them through the imposition of sanctions against Penn State.

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Pennsylvania
9:52 am
Thu June 6, 2013

Judge Tosses Corbett's Lawsuit Against NCAA

A federal judge on Thursday threw out the governor's lawsuit against the NCAA over sanctions against Penn State related to Jerry Sandusky, calling his argument "a Hail Mary pass" that easily warranted dismissal.

U.S. Middle District Judge Yvette Kane's decision puts an early end to the anti-trust lawsuit Gov. Tom Corbett filed in January in which he sought to overturn a $60 million fine, a four-year bowl ban, scholarship limits and other penalties.

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