State News

Up-to-date news and headlines from around Pennsylvania.

Judge In Jerry Sandusky Case Seeks Info On Grand Jury Leaks

Oct 29, 2015
Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo

BELLEFONTE — The judge handling convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky's appeal ordered Pennsylvania's attorney general on Thursday to provide him and the former Penn State assistant football coach's lawyers any information she might have about possible leaks in the case by state prosecutors and a grand jury judge.

Judge John Cleland gave Attorney General Kathleen Kane one week to provide, under seal, information about "who, what, when and how this information was released."

State and national groups came together in Pittsburgh last week for a public launch party for videos detailing the lack of discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in Pennsylvania.   

Philadelphia-based Equality Pennsylvania paired with national LGBT advocacy groups SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders) and the Center for American Progress to create four videos detailing the struggles LGBT individuals face with no legal provisions against discrimination.


The National Park Service has completed the construction of a new visitor center at the Shanksville memorial to the crash of Flight 93 in Somerset County.

The new facility will offer photographs and exhibits dedicated to the lives of the 40 passengers and crew who thwarted the believed attack on the White House on Sept. 11, 2001.

Other new features include a learning center to be used for educational programs and a

2.5-mile trail system connecting the visitor center with the memorial, according to Mike Litterst, spokesperson for the National Park Service.

Gettysburg National Military Park was awarded a $78,000 grant from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to purchase nearly 9 acres of land in an effort to protect it from development.

This grant is part of a series worth $3.1 million aiming to add nearly 270 total acres to 13 Civil War battlefields.

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AP Photo/Marc Levy

Penn State's president has told the university community an investigation into the Facebook posting of nude photographs by a now-suspended fraternity could lead to a re-evaluation of the overall fraternity system.

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

The president of Penn State University says a fraternity's Facebook posting of photos of nude and partly nude women is both sad and "very offensive."

Eric Barron tells The Associated Press the behavior is the kind that could get students expelled.

A fraternity at Penn State University has been suspended as police investigate allegations that members used a secret Facebook page to post photos of nude women, some of whom appeared to be sleeping or passed out.

According to a copy of a State College police warrant obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press, a former member of the Kappa Delta Rho fraternity came to authorities and told them about the page. The former member also turned over printouts from the page on a computer thumb drive.

Police say some Facebook posts also related to hazing and drug deals.

Six Documentaries Featuring Pennsylvania Cities You Can Stream Online

Feb 19, 2015
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

As a winter cold front settles in over most of Pennsylvania and the eastern U.S., you may find yourself surfing your Netflix queue for something to escape the deep freeze and cabin fever.

May we suggest a few “home grown” documentaries worth watching that you can easily steam online? 

Three people were hospitalized Sunday with gunshot wounds after a 17-year-old male opened fire on a man at a Pittsburgh-area mall, police said, striking his intended target as well as two bystanders.

The Monroeville Mall went on lockdown Saturday evening after the shooting. The gunman managed to escape but police say they were able to identify him by matching surveillance video with images on social media.

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

The handlers of Pennsylvania's most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, said Monday the furry rodent has forecast six more weeks of winter.

Members of the top hat-wearing Inner Circle announced the "prediction" Monday morning.

A German legend has it that if a furry rodent sees his shadow on Feb. 2, winter will last another six weeks. If not, spring comes early.

The forecast was also announced on Twitter, as was referenced in the official proclamation read by Bill Deeley, president of the Inner Circle.

Marcus Charleston 90.5 WESA

Fallingwater in Mill Run, Pennsylvania, is one of 10 Frank Lloyd Wright buildings that has been nominated for inclusion in the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is taking a strong stance against a bill making its way through Harrisburg that he says would “would hurt city taxpayers & hamstring efforts to cooperate with nonprofits.”

The state’s finance committee passed and sent to the Senate floor last week Senate Bill 4 , which would clarify the Purely Public Charity Act of 1997 to make the legislature the sole body to determine what qualifies an organization as a charity.

The state will fund the purchase, delivery and planting of 450 red maple trees at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Somerset County, Gov. Tom Corbett announced Wednesday.

The “Red Sunset” maples will be planted next spring along the Memorial Groves walkway from the visitor center to the memorial plaza at the crash site.

“This planting at Flight 93 provides an opportunity to engage the public in the hopeful act of planting a tree at the site of a national tragedy,” Corbett said in a statement.

The state’s TreeVitalize program is contributing $160,000 to the project.

What Governor-elect Wolf Faces in 2015

Jan 2, 2015
Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Patriot News and Penn Live editorial and opinion page editor John Micek joins us to look back at a year that saw the election of a new governor in Pennsylvania.

When Democrat Tom Wolf takes over for Tom Corbett this month, he will face a host of challenges as he tackles an ambitious agenda.

Micek says that the election of Wolf was definitely the biggest political story of 2014 for the Commonwealth; the Democrat’s win broke with Pennsylvania’s longstanding “eight-year rule” by forestalling a second term for Tom Corbett. When Wolf takes office later this month, among his biggest challenges will be a statewide budget deficit of around 2 billion dollars.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Workers’ rights activists and former UPMC employees joined city and state officials in Downtown Pittsburgh Monday to celebrate a ruling that found UPMC violated the National Labor Relations Act.

In a 123-page decision issued Friday, National Labor Relations Administrative Law Judge Mark Carissimi ruled in favor of the Service Employees International Union on 21 issues, including the reinstatement of Ron Oakes, Finley Littlejohn, Jim Staus and Al Turner, who were terminated after engaging in union organizing activities.

Pennsylvania is home to nearly one million veterans, but that only tells half the story.

1,500 of them are homeless, which is a 46.2 percent increase since 2009.

About 2,400 Pennsylvania vets claimed Unemployment Compensation benefits last November according to the Center for Workforce Information & Analysis.

Johnstown’s Tribune-Democrat, in Western Pennsylvania, recently conducted an online survey to evaluate progress on local issues. Johnstown is a shrinking industrial city with a nearly 9-percent unemployment rate, and one of the worst-funded pension systems in the state.

Don't Feed the Deer! Here's Why...

Oct 9, 2014
Heather McClain / WESA

While it might be tempting to feed the deer that may wander into your surroundings this fall, the Pennsylvania Game Commission advises against this. We’ll find out why from Dr. Justin Brown, a veterinarian with the state Game Commission.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday it’s partnering with Schneider’s Dairy and the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank to expand the state’s milk distribution program.

The food bank will now be able to purchase milk from Schneider’s at a reduced rate and then, after covering 15-30 percent of the cost, sell it to food pantries for an estimated 50 cents a quart.  Those pantries, spread across 11 counties will in turn give it for free to in-need Pennsylvanians.

Pennsylvania Cautiously Boosts Speed Limit

Jul 29, 2014
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.

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.

Another PA City to be Declared "Distressed"

Jun 6, 2014

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.

Free Fishing Opportunity During Holiday

May 22, 2014

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.