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WITF

The city of Harrisburg's near-bankruptcy led to Pennsylvania's first and only local government takeover, the ousting of a seven-term mayor and his pending criminal trial - and aggressive, expensive parking enforcement in the state capit

Daveynln / Flickr

Unleash your curious side this weekend and explore some of Pittsburgh’s buildings and churches not usually open to the public.

Doors Open Pittsburgh, taking place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, will give locals access to 39 locations through Downtown and the Strip District.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

In a time of shrinking school budgets, arts education sometimes takes a back seat to academics. In order to introduce students to arts not often taught in schools, the Pittsburgh Promise hosted a series of immersive dance and music classes taught by local artists.

Fight Feels Familiar For Tribes At North Dakota Pipeline Protest

15 hours ago
Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

More than a month after construction began on a controversial stretch of the Dakota Access Pipeline, the front line of the fight is filled with faces from Alaska to Florida.

The indigenous people here on the North Dakota prairie have waged similar fights on their reservations. Take the Sahme family, who set up camp a short walk from the central fire where people converge to hear prayer and song.

“My dad brought a good tent,” says Tiwani Sahme, as he opens the zipper.

Michael Sahaida / Wikipedia

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra musicians are on strike after unanimously rejecting calls for a 15 percent pay cut, changes to their pension plan and staffing cuts they say management is proposing.

Management says the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is more than $20 million in debt, leading them to ask musicians to take the pay cut that prompted a strike. Union members also are balking at pension changes and unspecified staffing cuts they say management proposed.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh will be home to the largest open-door animal shelter in western Pennsylvania once the boards of two major nonprofits merge by Jan. 1, 2017.

Happy Birthday Josh! It’s Josh’s birthday weekend and Social Club is ready to celebrate. WESA’s Sarah and Yelp Pittsburgh’s Rachel have put together a weekend filled with beer, brunch and tacos for Josh. Care to join?

How The Steel Industry Uses Billions Of Gallons Of Pennsylvania Water

23 hours ago
Sarah Collins / PublicSource

Atop a forested hill in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands, the smells of cooked coal and hot steel blend over the molten glow of a blacksmith forge.

That’s the work station for blacksmith Dennis Gilkey, a wiry 66-year-old with neatly cropped white hair and a bushy mustache. He was a farrier for 25 years, the work that coiled his fingers with arthritis. Gilkey began learning the blacksmith trade in 2001. It is less taxing on his body than shoeing horses, he says.

Harrisburg Shares In Autonomous Vehicle Testing Excitement

Sep 30, 2016
Commonwealth Media Services

Driverless vehicle technology has made its way to the state Capitol, complete with first-time passengers.

In Pennsylvania an autonomous vehicle went on display outside Pittsburgh for the first time since testing began.

Researchers made their way to the city of Harrisburg, with Mayor Eric Papenfuse among the first people take a ride.

Marcus Charleston / WESA

The Confluence – where the news comes together is 90.5 WESA’s weekly news program.

Each week reporters, editors and bloggers join veteran journalists, and host, Kevin Gavin. They’ll go behind the headlines, taking an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region.

This week it was announced that beginning in December Pittsburgh will become a one newspaper town. We'll look at the impact the Tribune Review dropping its print edition has on the city's journalism landscape. Health issues are also in the news. We'll  discuss Governor Tom Wolf's urging of state lawmakers to combat PA's opioid epidemic and Mylan CEO Heather Bresch's  Epipen profits testimony on Capitol Hill. Our look ahead, looks back at golf legend Arnold Palmer.  

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

If you drive into Johnstown from the west, it’s hard to miss the flower boxes that line the streets. The boxes were originally made for a citywide celebration that has been long forgotten — but since 2006, the West End Improvement Group has been keeping them filled for the neighborhood all summer long.

“We started with 13 flower boxes that we had asked businesses in the West End to kind of adopt and take care of,” said Rose Howarth, who runs the all-volunteer organization.

New Imaging Technology Is Giving Chesapeake Bay Restoration A Big Boost

Sep 30, 2016
Forsake Fotos / Flickr

 The Chesapeake Bay has a big pollution problem. And multiple nonprofits and state and federal agencies—including many in Pennsylvania—are all working together to clean it up. It’s been a slow process so far. But recently, we got a chance to chat with the Chesapeake Conservancy‘s Jeffrey Allenby about how new high-resolution imaging is helping accelerate that restoration effort.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Public officials have installed between three and six water bottle filling stations in each the district's 54 schools after finding 141 water fixtures texted positive for elevated levels of lead.

States Suing Over Climate Change Plan Get Their Day In Court

Sep 29, 2016
Dennis Hendricks / Flickr

  

Climate change barely got a mention in Monday’s presidential debate, but it was a big week in the history of the nation’s climate policy.

On Tuesday, a panel of ten judges on a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. heard arguments on the Clean Power Plan — the cornerstone of President Obama’s effort to curb climate change.

WITF

In a decision that is expected to reshape the health care world in the midstate, a federal court has blocked a merger between Penn State Health and PinnacleHealth.

The ruling by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals caps a saga that stretched more than two years, when two of the largest health systems in the region first announced their plans to unite.

Rick Smith / AP

The Bethlehem company that makes marshmallow Peeps as well as Mike and Ike candies has filed a federal lawsuit claiming a workers' strike is illegal. 

Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union Local 6 workers walked off the job September 7. 

The lawsuit filed by Just Born Quality Confections says that violates a no-strike provision of a contract that expired June 18.

The company says the no-strike clause was still in effect until Sept. 18 under a contract extension. 

Jordan Brown / WITF

Penn State is dedicating an entire course this fall to one person: Donald Trump. 

The one-credit course called "Trump" allows students to meet for two hours a week to analyze the Republican presidential nominee's campaign, the democratic process and previous presidential candidates. 

The director of the university's McCourtney Institute for Democracy says the Republican is generating a great deal of support through unorthodox means and is discussing issues that raise questions about democratic politics. 

Evan Vucci / AP

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump plans to hold a rally in central Pennsylvania on Saturday.

His campaign website says it will be held at 7:00 p.m. at the Spooky Nook Sports Complex near Manheim, in Lancaster County.

Doors open at 3:00 p.m.  

His running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, is holding a rally in York, this afternoon. 

Vice President Joe Biden and first lady Michelle Obama campaigned in Pennsylvania this week for Hillary Clinton.

Pittsburghers Join Protests Against Dakota Access Pipeline

Sep 29, 2016
Julie Grant / The Allegheny Front

Efforts by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to block construction of an oil pipeline through lands that they consider sacred has drawn a broad coalition of supporters ranging from other indigenous tribes to environmental activists.

AP

The Plum Borough school board has reinstated its superintendent after a law firm found administrators looked into reports and rumors that teachers were having sex with students.

The Levin Legal Group says administrators investigated reports of inappropriate contact and found insufficient evidence to fire Plum Borough School District Superintendent Timothy Glasspool.

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

A Pennsylvania congressman helped save the life of a man found unconscious in a Washington, D.C. office building. 

Republican Tim Murphy of Allegheny County helped the man Wednesday. 

Murphy and staffers were waiting for an elevator in the Rayburn House Office Building when it opened and a mail clerk was on the floor with a head wound suffered when he collapsed and fell.  

He performed CPR while others found a defibrillator, which a Capitol police officer used.

The man's breathing and pulse were restored. 

Andy Boenau / Flickr

 

More than in any other major Pennsylvania city, Pittsburgh’s young adults are living on their own instead of moving in with mom and dad.

Pittsburgh ranked 13th out of America’s 600 largest cities for the percentage of young adults aged 18 to 34 living alone, according to new data released Thursday in the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 1-year American Community Survey. Pittsburgh also ranked 45th in terms of the percentage of young adults living with roommates.

This New Machine Can Recycle Plastic Ad Infinitum

Sep 29, 2016
Kara Holsopple / Allegheny Front

 Plastic pollution is all around us. You can find it in everything from grocery bags blowing down the road to islands of plastic floating in the oceans. But new technology demonstrated at a recent green products expo in Pittsburgh is getting people to think differently about plastic’s lifecycle.

“So what we have here is a mobile plastic recycling installation,” says Dutch industrial designer Bart Bleijerveld, showing off the new gizmo. “We call it the Perpetual Plastic Project.”

US Army Corps of Engineers / flickr

The Allegheny County Health Department is attempting to cut the number of flu cases this season by offering four types of vaccines, all injection-based.

Allegheny County Health Department Director Karen Hacker said the vaccinations are all available at the department’s clinic in Oakland.

This year, it will not offer the FluMist nasal spray vaccine. Hacker said it was not as effective as other vaccines and is not recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Amongst some pretty worn-down storefronts in Sharpsburg, seven miles from downtown Pittsburgh, Memories Sportsman and Taxidermy Shop has operated since 1990.

In the musty, cluttered space, owner Sam Stelitano, 65, sells new firearms and collectable ones, like original Smith and Wesson’s and Civil War muskets. But look above the rifle-lined counters, and you see his real passion.

Flickr user Travis Estell

When Erie native Ida Tarbell was investigating John D. Rockefeller and his Standard Oil Company more than a century ago, she had to crisscross the country to search through public records and interview sources in person.

Her 19-part series in McClure’s magazine, titled The History of the Standard Oil Co., is credited as the first example of investigative journalism and had a direct influence on the 1909 antitrust lawsuit that eventually broke up the company.

How One Composer's Hearing Damage Inspired A Concert Series

Sep 29, 2016
Ben Tran

  In 2008, composer Daniel Fishkin's ears started ringing, and they never stopped. Doctors offered no solace besides, "You get used to it." In the absence of a medical cure, Fishkin vowed to find a creative solution. 

"I do not want to get used to my hearing damage — I want to use it."

Mel Evans / AP

Michelle Obama told supporters in Philadelphia on Wednesday that candidates don't change once they become president and that America "needs an adult in the White House."

The first lady never mentioned Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump during the rally at LaSalle University. But there was no question that she was warning voters that President Trump would be the same as candidate Trump.

"The presidency doesn't change who you are, it reveals who you are," she told the cheering crowd.

Margaret J. Krauss / Keystone Crossroads

Trib Total Media’s shift toward a digital-only model is playing out amid a larger narrative of an entire industry in transition.

Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

 

The ramifications of the Obama administration’s recent decision to temporarily halt construction on the Dakota Access oil pipeline are being felt throughout the country– particularly in Pennsylvania. Industry executives worry about growing public opposition to pipelines, while activists have been encouraged by the success of Native American protesters.

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