News

Stewart Black / Flickr

  Pennsylvania is bracing for a possible outbreak of what was once called the “fowl plague” – a highly contagious form of bird flu that devastated entire poultry flocks in the Midwest this spring.

The commonwealth saw severe cases of the bird flu in the 1980s. Since then, commercial poultry operations have become more complex, and keeping backyard hens is more popular –- as evidenced, perhaps, by a certain website purveying in rent-a-chickens.

90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Linda Lane has announced she will let her contract expire in June 2016 and will not seek an extension. Lane first served as deputy superintendent and spent the last five years in her current role.

Rebecca Devereaux / 90.5 WESA

If you're hoping to take the incline to Mt. Washington over the holiday weekend, you are in luck.

Major rehabilitation work on the Monongahela Incline scheduled to begin Aug. 31 was postponed for eight days following meetings between the Mt. Washington Community Development Corporation and the Port Authority of Allegheny County. Local business owners complained that the loss of the incline, a major method of transportation to the neighborhood, would hinder visitors over the holiday.

Josh Hallett

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and state and local law enforcement are teaming up over the holiday weekend to crack down on alcohol- and drug-impaired driving. 

The “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign is ramping up nationally, increasing checkpoints and roving patrols across the state.

PennDOT spokesman Rich Kirkpatrick says the holiday excitement often leads to bad decisions behind the wheel.

Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh

  A night of gazing into the cosmos is planned for Saturday.

The Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh is hosting a free “Dark Sky Star Party” at 7:50 p.m. Saturday at the Wagman Observatory in Deer Lake Park in Tarentum.

The event is open to the public, and astronomy experts will be providing space enthusiasts with a guided tour of the night sky. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own telescopes to the event.

Tom Reiland, director of the observatory, coordinates its star parties.

Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

Razi, age 6, has idiopathic epilepsy, a neurological disease that causes intermittent seizures. He was diagnosed two years ago and was having about two seizures a year. This summer, though, they started happening monthly.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Richard Williams glances at the request sheet from behind a chest-high counter and gives the book in front of him a quarter turn. With a pair of pliers, he latches onto a metal wire and pulls, flopping open its spine stacked high with crinkly, worn pages. 

“What I find fascinating, especially in these handwritten ones, is the lack of errors,” Williams said. He regards the long page covered in careful, legible script as he steps toward the copier, deed in hand.

Searching For An Alzheimer's Cure

Sep 3, 2015
Pittsburgh Life Sciences

A Pittsburgh-based company is about to move its Alzheimer’s disease drug out of animal tests and into humans. “It’s exciting and humbling,” said Hank Safferstein Cognition Therapeutics CEO of the upcoming clinical trials.

The South Side company is chasing after a drug that will be effective in combating Alzheimer’s disease.

The process used in finding such a drug is a rare one that focuses on “creating the disease in a dish,” Safferstein said while appearing on WESA’s Essential Pittsburgh.

Emily Stock / 90.5 WESA

For individuals with Parkinson’s disease, postural instability is a daily challenge.  Courtney Williamson knows this reality well.  Her mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s when she was a toddler so she’s experienced firsthand the struggles facing those with alignment issues. 

“Living with someone with Parkinson’s or a movement disorder, you get to learn how to be creative in way to help them with daily activities,” explains Williamson.  Unable to find solutions or products that could remedy her mother’s balance issues, Williamson embraced her resources as a Carnegie Mellon University PhD candidate and started her own company, AbiliLife

Labor Day Weekend: Social Club September 4

Sep 3, 2015

    Happy Labor Day Weekend from WESA’s Josh and Yelp Pittsburgh’s Rachel! You have one job this weekend and that is to sit back, relax and enjoy. Go to a bbq, drink something refreshing and don’t go to work.

Josh and Rachel are taking their own advice and taking a little break this week. But don’t worry. They will be back next week with all your weekend plans.

Hope you have a great weekend! 

University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development

  Twenty Pittsburgh Public Schools welcomed hordes of excited and apprehensive kindergartners on Thursday with Freddy the Frog, a green frog mascot representing the district's readiness program.

“We make a big celebration for the kindergarten children coming in for the first time and for their parents,” said Carole Barone-Martin, Pittsburgh Public's executive director of early childhood education.

Danielle Scott / Flickr

This year’s Labor Day is going to be a busy one for travel. And why not, with gasoline prices nationwide dipping their lowest since 2004.

“People are taking advantage of that, and a lot of people are traveling," said Chelsea Pompeani, public affairs director of AAA East Central. “And I know the weather is supposed to be nice in certain areas.”

Flickr

According to the Department of Justice, 293,000 women are raped or sexually assaulted each year, and those are just the instances that are reported.

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, an event that aims to greatly reduce sexual violence by bringing awareness to the issue, is coming to Pittsburgh on Saturday September 12, according to event coordinator and sexual assault survivor Camille Goleb.

Can Pittsburgh Compete In The Biotech Industry?

Sep 3, 2015
Sergei Golyshev / flickr

Once upon a time, Pittsburgh rose and fell as one of the largest manufacturing cities in the nation with the growth and collapse of the steel industry.  Decades later, an influx of healthcare and higher education jobs has helped Pittsburgh make the transition from a manufacturing city to an up and coming technological powerhouse. 

Christian Manders, CEO of Promethean LifeScience, Inc., says this surge in interest in the life science sectors is driving the modern Pittsburgh economy. 

“If you look at statistics with employment in the region, it’s already there.  It’s already happening with ‘eds and meds’, education and medicine.”

Former Gov. Ed Rendell has a little advice for embattled state Attorney General Kathleen Kane: take a leave of absence.

“Let someone in her office be the one to call the shots for the attorney general’s office while she was getting ready for trial, preparing for trial with her lawyers, etcetera,” said Rendell on WITF’s Smart Talk on Wednesday.

Top state Democrats have called on Kane to resign in light of the criminal charges filed against her last month. Rendell said Kane could stop short of that while placating some of her critics.

Greg Nichols / Thomas Dunne Books

July 1959 500,000 steel workers in southwestern Pennsylvania walked off the job in a contract dispute.  They expected a quick end to the strike like they had seen in previous work stoppages but as the summer turned to fall and the men were still idle and the one bright spot was a local high school football team on the verge of setting a national record.

Independent Bookstores On The Comeback

Sep 2, 2015
Penguin Bookshop / Facebook

Booksellers B.Dalton, Waldenbooks and Borders once dotted the suburban shopping landscape. They also played a part in the decline of the independent bookstore. While those chains are long shuttered don’t write an obituary for independent book shops yet.

Debating The Date For Pennsylvania's Primary Elections

Sep 2, 2015
John Keane / flickr

A bipartisan group of Pennsylvania lawmakers are looking to push the state’s primary elections a month earlier to ensure that voters have what they believe would be more of a say in the next presidential nominee. Since the 1950s during presidential election years, Pennsylvania’s primary elections have been held mid-April, meaning by the time ballots are tallied, both the Democratic and Republic parties have typically already chosen their nominee. House Bill 1318 proposes pushing the primary to mid-March, along with the primaries of Florida, Ohio, Illinois and Missouri.

An activist who has crusaded for a year to learn who exchanged pornographic e-mails within the state Office of Attorney General says he might be about to make headway — thanks to public comments made by Kathleen Kane herself.

Simon Campbell, founder of the Bucks County group Pennsylvanians for Union Reform, has been angling to uncover the identities of all the state employees who sent or received smutty e-mails found on OAG servers and computers. Kane's office unearthed the messages but fought numerous requests for their full release, citing union contracts and employee privacy.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Activists with the Allegheny County Jail Health Justice Project on Tuesday delivered a petition with more than 1,700 signatures to County Executive Rich Fitzgerald’s office, asking him to fire County Jail Warden Orlando Harper.

Activists maintain that Harper — and Fitzgerald — are ultimately responsible for the death rate at the jail, which in 2014 was more than twice the national average at seven deaths. Four inmates have died at the jail so far this year, including Frank Smart, whose mother, Tomi Lynn Harris, spoke at a rally outside the county courthouse.

The state’s fiscal watchdog issued another growl about the state’s absentee spending plan on Tuesday.

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, a Democrat, said routine audits of school districts, starting now, will also consider the ramifications of the state budget impasse – like schools’ borrowing costs.

Finishing audits of all 500 school districts will take years, he said, so there's no exact estimate for statewide school costs to schools. That's why DePasquale said he’s putting negotiators on notice now. 

Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

An estimated 1,500 people marched through the streets of Downtown Pittsburgh on Tuesday from United Steelworkers headquarters to the offices of Allegheny Technology and U.S. Steel headquarters.

Union workers are demanding contract settlements with U.S. Steel, Allegheny Technologies and ArcelorMittal. Negotiations started in June.

PA Budget Talks Go Underground

Sep 1, 2015

State budget talks are being kept quiet this week as Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf plans to meet with top Republican lawmakers without the press lurking outside.

The governor’s office said Monday the coming meetings will be smaller and more low-profile in an attempt to get closer to a deal.

Spokesman Jeffrey Sheridan said the impromptu hallway press conferences that have punctuated so many meetings over the past several weeks haven’t been helpful. The state spending plan is already two months late.

Eric Molina/Flickr

Lawmakers and public health officials say local heroin use shows no signs of slowing.

“I’ve been in health care for over 30 years and it is the worst public health crisis I’ve ever seen,” said Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Karen Murphy. “That is what drives us, that is what gives us our passion, and I can assure you, we will not stop.”

Overbrook's Character Drawn From Eclectic History

Sep 1, 2015
Carrick-Overbrook Historical Society / Facebook

A city is nothing without its quaint and quirky neighborhoods.  Pittsburgh is lucky enough to have several of these neighborhoods, which preserve the culture and history of Pittsburghers.  Business contributor Rebecca Harris highlights the neighborhood of Overbrook, a small borough just south of downtown Pittsburgh.  

Phil Pavely / Chatham University

For the first time since its founding in 1869, Chatham University welcomed male undergraduates during this year’s convocation ceremony. Harvard University Graduate School of Education Professor Richard Light spoke to students at the event about getting the most out of their college experience.

Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

With a new board of directors and several upcoming performances, the August Wilson Center for African American Culture appears to be reinventing itself and establishing a presence beyond its history of financial and leadership complications.

The Center declared bankruptcy last year before being purchased by a coalition of Pittsburgh nonprofits at a sheriff's sale.

Opening nonprofit organizations requires a clear understanding of the group's vision, purpose and the community being served, according to Fragrasso Financial Advisors Institutional Investment Account Manager Gregg Daily.

patreasury.gov

Unemployment compensation and workers’ compensation benefit recipients will receive a new provider for prepaid debit cards; the Pennsylvania Treasury will stop making deposits to the previously-used Chase cards on Sept. 30.

How Point Park University Plans To Meet Changing Demands

Sep 1, 2015
Point Park University / Facebook

Point Park University President Paul Hennigan said he felt disbelief, shock and honor at finding himself among the most powerful people in Pittsburgh in the latest issue of Pittsburgh Magazine.

Tom / Flickr

  Mosquitos with West Nile virus are turning up in more city neighborhoods and communities, and that means more spraying.

The Allegheny County Health Department opted to fight West Nile in Bloomfield, Polish Hill, Lawrenceville and Stanton Heights with a truck-mounted, Ultra Low Volume sprayer between 8 and 10 p.m. Tuesday after recent mosquito samples tested positive for the virus. 

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