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Pennsyvlania Department of Agriculture

Invasive insects can have devastating impacts on native plants and trees, as evidenced by the Emerald Ash Borer’s effect on the state’s ash trees.

That insect was first found in Michigan in 2002; it continued to spread and has wiped out tens of millions of ash trees nationwide, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Now there’s another bug to worry about – the Spotted Lanterfly. The pest was first spotted last fall in Berks County.

“We believe it’s been here a season or two, so it can live here, it can survive here, it’s been tested,” said Russell Redding, Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary. “What we want to do is send it packing.”

More than 3.5 million Americans currently live with some form of autism spectrum disorder, according to the Autism Society.

The University of Pittsburgh will soon begin a study testing two different non-drug treatments for adults with autism, thanks to a $3.2 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Shaun Eack, associate professor of social work and psychiatry at the university, will lead the research.

Usually a food pantry looks for monetary or food donations to stock their shelves, but the Northside Community Food Pantry needs a bit more.

Organizers need help replacing their shelves, ramps, tables and storage units to give it “more of a supermarket-style feel,” officials said.

When you think of must-see parks in Pennsylvania, what comes to mind? Point State Park? Keystone State Park in Westmoreland County? Hillman State Park in Washington County?

The Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation is encouraging state residents to participate in the 100 Icons of Summer Campaign to nominate their favorite parks and forests. These submissions should reflect what residents “see” after closing their eyes and then thinking of their parks and forests. Throughout May and June, the foundation will accept suggestions for the 100 icons.

Keith Ewing / Flickr

This weekend marks the unofficial start of summer – which means, among other things, swimming! 

Sen. Rop Teplitz (D-Dauphin) has introduced a bill that would return lifeguards to state park public beaches.

“In 2008, the lifeguards were eliminated at all but two parks due to budgetary reasons, but I think the public safety requires that the lifeguards be restored,” Teplitz said.

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources estimates the state saved roughly $800,000 a year by not having lifeguards on duty at all parks. Teplitz said those savings aren't worth risking public safety.

When an out-of-state customer at County Councilman John Palmiere's Brentwood barbershop commented on the beauty of Allegheny County being covered in litter, he decided to go for a drive.

Palmiere said he quickly realized she was right.

“You see it all the time, and you don’t see it," he said. "So I just took a ride around one evening after she said that and she’s right. The place is just … we have so much debris and litter.”

Your search for an apartment just got a lot more thorough.

A new, free service designed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University aims to help people find a rental property by estimating the utility costs based on the unit itself and also the renter’s personal habits and lifestyle.

Jennifer Mankoff, associate professor in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute and co-leader on the project, said EDigs was inspired by a former Ph.D. student’s work studying the relationships between landlords and low-income tenants.

90.5 Reporters Win Awards

May 22, 2015

90.5 WESA reporters Deanna Garcia, Liz Reid, Larkin Page-Jacobs, and Erika BerasEssential Pittsburgh's Paul Guggenheimer, Marcus Charleston and Heather McClain, and The Allegheny Front's Kara Holsopple won awards at the Press Club of Western PA’s Annual “Golden Quill” Awards last night.

Public Affairs/Community Service, Radio Winner: Erika Beras, "A New Life in Pittsburgh, Refugees Living in the Shadows," WESA.

The Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania has been working to expand the Pennsylvania Housing Trust Fund statewide; the organization will continue that work following the release of a report that shows a person would have to make $15.12 an hour in wages to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at fair market rate in Allegheny County.

The problem, according to Alliance Executive Director, Liz Hersh, is that many people don’t make that much money.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Humans have lived in the region for close to 16,000 years. One of the few remaining vestiges of those early residents can be sought in McKees Rocks.

Mark McConaughy is a regional archeologist for the Pennsylvania Bureau of Historic Preservation. He stands on the edge of the Bottoms neighborhood with his back to the railroad tracks that skirt the Ohio River’s high embankment, looking past silos of asphalt aggregate and trucks driving in and out.   

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

These aren’t your typical theater-goers. They call out during the play. They try to join into the performance.

And some are sucking on pacifiers.

This is entertainment for the very young — baby theater.

Faros Properties

A New York developer unveiled plans Thursday to reinvent long-dormant Allegheny Center Mall into a commercial hub for technology and innovation.

Dubbed Nova Place, the 1.2 million square-foot former retail complex was redesigned to accommodate offices for new and existing tenants, a conference center, gym, parking, restaurants, coffee shops and other facilities. Demolition has already begun, owner and Faros Properties managing partner Jeremy Leventhal said.

Fourteen hours after the polls closed and voters decided Bellevue would no longer be ‘dry,’ the first liquor license application was submitted in more than 80 years.

Specialty Group, a liquor license broker and lender for restaurants and bars, submitted the application on behalf of Grille 565 on Lincoln Avenue. Ned Sokoloff, the company’s president and CEO, said the Liquor Control Board received the application by 10 a.m. Wednesday.

90.5 WESA offers you two specials to kick off the summer!

Friday, May 22 at noon and 8 p.m.: State of the Re:Union: Travelogue: Volume 2

For the last six years, State of the Re:Union has been collecting stories from the road. This show is a look back at the communities, characters, and conflicts covered over the years, including Superman, medical migrants, a letter to Appalachia and more.

Port Authority officials are proposing a budget of $397.8 million for FY 15-16, an increase of about $9 million from this year.

The 2.3 percent spending increase will not result in a hike to the base fare ($2.50), service cuts or job reductions.

“This is absolutely a really good sign for the Port Authority,” said transit agency spokesman Jim Ritchie.

In fact, the preliminary budget calls for a limited service increase in some routes to alleviate overcrowding.

Red, White and Brew: Social Club May 22

May 21, 2015

Kick off your long weekend and get summer started at the Bakery Square Summer Kick Off on Friday. The free event is from 5-9PM at Bakery Square in East Liberty and will have live music, food trucks and drinks to enjoy.

Iggy Azalea is coming to perform in Pittsburgh for the first time, and some people are not happy about it.

Last Friday, the Delta Foundation, the organization behind Pittsburgh Pride, announced that the rapper and songwriter will headline its Pride in the Street event on June 13. Since the announcement, they’ve received heavy push back from the LGBTQ community in Pittsburgh, some of whom accuse Azalea of racism, homophobia, cultural appropriation and plagiarism.

Gov. Tom Wolf's proposed Pennsylvania budget has a detractor: the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP).

The group, which represents all of the state's hospitals, takes issue with a $166.5 million reduction to hospital Medicaid payments. HAP's Vice President for Research Martin Ciccocioppo said the reduction is significant for a program that already doesn't cover the costs hospitals incur.

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

Encouraging women to enter the STEM fields may not be a matter of how, but when. As part of WESA’s Life of Learning initiative, guest host Andy Conte of the Tribune Review talks with Theresa Richards of CMU’s FIRST  (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Program Coordinator about mentoring young girls in STEM fields. Also taking part in the conversation is 9th grader Lauren Scheller-Wolf a past participant on the Girls of Steel robotics competition team.

Scheller-Wolf encourages young students to be apart of Girls of Steel:

“It’s an amazing opportunity. You will learn so much, but it’s the kind of learning that is so fun you don’t realize you’re learning anything.” -Lauren Scheller-Wolf 

Also in the program, historian John Brewer takes us on a photo tour of black life in America from the Pittsburgh Courier, and Robert Miles is making life a little easier with a downtown concierge service. 

Forgotten Courier Closet Yields Wealth Of Pittsburgh Black History

May 21, 2015
Sidney L. Davis / Trib Total Media

One photograph shows a young Fidel Castro with boxer Joe Louis, standing next to men in shorts and beach shirts.

Another shows six Tuskegee Airmen huddled outside of a plane as they pore over a map sprawled on the ground.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

There are approximately 8,500 people waiting for an organ transplant in Pennsylvania, and about 123,000 across the U.S. The problem, according to the UPMC transplant program, is that demand far outweighs the number of available organs.

To try and increase awareness, “crossing guards” from UPMC and the Center for Organ Recovery and Education (CORE) stopped pedestrians in several downtown areas Wednesday. The goal was to get more people to sign up as organ donors.

Bicycle accidents account for only 3.7 percent of reported crashes, yet they comprise 11.2 percent of all traffic fatalities, according to PennDOT.

On Wednesday evening, local bicyclists will gather in silent protest to honor victims of bicycle-related traffic accidents at Pittsburgh’s 11th annual Ride of Silence.

“The Ride of Silence is part of a global event,” said Ngani Ndimbie, spokesperson for Bike Pittsburgh. “It’s an event that was created to remember and to honor the people who have been killed and injured due to traffic violence while riding their bicycles.”

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Dog parks and basketball hoops bolstered Pittsburgh in the 4th annual rankings by The Trust for Public Land of the best park systems in American cities.

On a scale of 1 to 5, the city earned a 3.5 “park benches” rating — tying Anchorage, Lincoln, Raleigh and Virginia Beach for 24th in the ParkScore Index.  This is Pittsburgh’s first year in the rankings which expanded in 2015 from the nation's 60 largest cities to 75.

Millennials Wanted As Boomers Expected To Leave A Crater In The Job Market

May 20, 2015
Ohad Cadji / PublicSource

Max Inks attended Pennsylvania State University for three years before he dropped out, a decision prompted by his underwhelming performance in classes toward an electrical engineering degree.

The field of candidates for three open seats on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is now set.

Republicans on Tuesday chose Superior Court Judge Judy Olson, Commonwealth Court Judge Anne Covey and Adams County Judge Mike George as their candidates. Democrats nominated Philadelphia Judge Kevin Dougherty, and Superior Court judges David Wecht and Christine Donohue.

Philadelphia Judge Alice Beck Dubow was dubbed the Democratic nominee for a seat on the state Superior Court. She defeated Allegheny County Judge Robert Colville.

Wolf Urges Railroads To Adopt Oil Train Safety Measures

May 20, 2015
AP Photo/Chris Tilley

Governor Wolf is urging rail companies shipping crude oil through Pennsylvania to adopt voluntary safety measures to help prevent the risk of accidents.

Ed Massery, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy

Since its founding in 1996 the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy has worked with the city to maintain its historic parks. The conservancy is currently in the process of renovating one city park. Joining guest host Elaine Labalme to address the current state of the parks and what these green spaces mean to the city is Director of Community Projects Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy Heather Sage.

Sage addresses the challenge of air quality in the Pittsburgh area in connection with parks and green spaces:

"There's countless amounts of research that tell us you know our lives are better, we're healthier, our mental health is improved, our physical health is improved if were active and living and spending time outdoors. So just spending time intentionally improving those park spaces is very directly and indirectly helping peoples health..." -Heather Sage

Also in the program, TED Talks make their yearly Pittsburgh visit at the ever-expanding local TEDx conference and Smallman Galley is a local restaurant incubator that's giving potential restaurateurs the tools and templates for success.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner credited her campaign team for her victory over challenger Mark Patrick Flaherty Tuesday night.

Supporters gathered at Young Brothers Bar in Brighton Heights, welcoming the incumbent with cheers shortly after Flaherty, himself a former controller, called to concede the primary.

Quinn Dombrowski / Flickr

Residents in Wilkinsburg and Bellevue voted to pass referendums Tuesday allowing liquor licenses for the first time in 80 years.

Marlee Gallagher, communications and outreach coordinator for the Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation (WCDC), said the group hopes the measure will spur much-needed economic growth.

With no Republicans on the ballot, all five Democratic incumbents should keep their City Council seats another four years.

District 1 Councilwoman Darlene Harris, 62, of Spring Hill beat out challengers Bobby Wilson, 32, of Spring Hill and Randy Zotter, 65, of Central North Side. Harris received nearly 47 percent of the vote, while Wilson received about 33 percent.

Harris said her campaign was successful because she's in-touch with the neighborhoods she represents.

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