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Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

June is officially “The Mentoring Partnership” month in Allegheny County and the city of Pittsburgh, as the program which helps thousands of mentors and mentees every year celebrates twenty years.

The Mentoring Partnership of Southwest PA began in 1995 and provides training, resources, research, and information about best practices to more than 500 partner organizations.

Erika Beras

Following a naturalization ceremony in Pittsburgh City Council Chambers on Monday morning, Mayor Bill Peduto and his staff introduced Welcoming Pittsburgh; an initiative to make life easier for the city’s immigrants.

“This is not only a question of doing what is right," he said. "It's also a critical part of the growth of a new Pittsburgh, the next economy and a part of seeing the full potential of every neighborhood to see revitalization.”

Chevron Appalachia has agreed to pay a nearly $940,000 fine levied by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources over an explosion and fire that killed a contractor at a company well site in Dunkard Township, Greene County. 

  Native Pittsburgher Jim Joseph knew he couldn’t go to a bank to meet his needs, “to check the box, so to speak,” on small land improvements that would tip the scale for companies excited to lease portions of his 80-acre, West Virginia property for distribution plants or manufacturing work.

It’s a catch-22, he said. His company, Trimodal Terminal, can’t renovate its rail access or install water and gas lines without cash, and he doesn’t qualify for a loan if the land isn’t up to code.

Flickr user woodleywonderworks

A week after Governor Tom Wolf stopped at a Harrisburg prison to promote his plan to increase early education funding, Pittsburgh City Council will consider the link between public safety and preschool.

A bill approving the Department of Public Safety’s “Promised Beginnings” initiative is scheduled to come up for discussion in Council’s committee meeting Wednesday.

There are nearly 68,000 registered voters in Allegheny County Council District 11, according to the state Department of Elections, yet 24 people will choose the person likely to occupy that council seat for the next four years.

“That’s exactly right,” acknowledges Nancy Patton Mills, chairwoman of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee.

School districts in seven western Pennsylvania counties are getting a share of $530,000 in Allegheny Intermediate Unit grants for programs that blend science, technology, engineering, arts and math, or STEAM.

Andrew Russell / Trib Total Media

John and Adrienne Essey own what could be Western Pennsylvania’s smartest home.

“As I adjust the slider to dim them, it tells me I’m using less wattage,” John Essey, 35, said about the lights in his Dormont home, which like door locks and appliances are connected to computer software, motion detectors and voice sensors.

Innovative Modular Solutions

The National Forum on Education Statistics reports Pennsylvania has the widest funding gap between wealthy and poor school districts. Ensuring every student in PA has access to a quality education, regardless of where they live, is the goal of the Campaign for Fair Education Funding. As state legislators prepare for budget talks we’ll address the need for a new public school funding formula with Patrick Dowd, executive director of Allies for Children and Cheryl Kleiman, attorney with the Education Law Center.

Dowd discusses the goal of the Campaign for Fair Education Funding: 

“We have lots of different views on lots of different issues, but on this one we have a common agenda. We want to make sure that the Pennsylvania legislature adopts, by 2016, a fair funding formula for the students of public schools here in Pennsylvania.” –Patrick Dowd

Also, Sasha King explains how to become management material, and WESA's Liz Reid and the Tribune-Review's David Conti present a three-part series on smart meters for the home. 

More Awards for 90.5 WESA

May 31, 2015

May 31, 2015:  90.5 WESA's Josh Raulerson and The Allegheny Front's Reid Frazier, along with Erika Beras, Deanna Garcia, Kevin Gavin, Larkin Page-Jacobs and Sarah Schneider won awards for their reporting at the 2015 Pennsylvania Associated Press Broadcasters Awards, held May 30 in Gettysburg. 

The Pennsylvania state Legislature has 253 members. Currently, only 46 of them are women.

The League of Women Voters will discuss this problem, among other issues, at its state convention, which they recently announced will take place in Pittsburgh next month.

Area representatives are supporting a bill that would waive background check fees for paid and volunteer firefighters and emergency response personnel.  

OpenStreetsPGH.org

Sunday morning, 3.5 miles of roadway will be closed to vehicular traffic in Downtown and beyond for OpenStreetsPGH. The pedestrian festival is meant to get people outside and into the city.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

A joke made its way around the Internet this winter that time-travel is possible in Pittsburgh — if you look into a pothole, where layers of cobblestone and brick snuggle under asphalt blankets. But on Roslyn Place in Shadyside, the past doesn’t hide.

US Department of Education / flickr

Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings is the keynote speaker for this year's Barbara A. Sizemore Summer Conference on Urban Education, a one-day conference held by Duquesne University’s School of Education. Dr. Ladson-Billings has focused her research on critical race theory, and has dedicated multiple studies to determining best practices for teachers who are educating within a racially diverse student body. 

Ladson-Billings explains her fear of losing great teachers, and ultimately why she wrote The Dream Keepers: 

“One of the reasons that I wanted to do the study that resulted in the book, The Dream Keepers, was my fear that some incredible knowledge and skill was going out the door and no one was documenting it.” -Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings 

Also, Two German professors with the Acoustical Society of America uncover Pittsburgh's urban "soundscape," and an upcoming expo at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center takes a focused look at improving multi-modal transportation.

Fifteen people were charged with conspiracy, counterfeiting foreign passports, mail fraud and wire fraud in Pittsburgh on Thursday. 

All charged are Chinese nationals.

There were people who, for money, were taking tests for other people. Some of the test-takers resided in Pittsburgh. Because of their status as Chinese citizens, they had to pass an English language proficiency exam and have a passport. The passports were fake, said David Hickton, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

The Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce has announced that current state Sen. Matt Smith (D-Allegheny) will be its next president. Before being elected to the Senate, Smith served three terms in the state House of Representatives.

He said the work before him as head of the Chamber won’t be much different than what he’s used to.

“Workforce development, education issues, economic development and community-based issues as well as transportation infrastructure issues that we’ve worked on over the last couple of years at the state level,” said Smith.

Fun For Everyone (21 And Up): Social Club May 29

May 28, 2015

  

This weekend is full of fun for everyone over the age of 21. The Carnegie Science Center 21+ Event is Friday night from 6-10PM. Guests can roam the science center and learn the science behind one of everyone’s favorite beverages, coffee!

Thinking of another beverage you’d like to be drinking this Friday? Check out Wigle Whiskey’s Bourbon Release and Birthday Bash, held at Wigle’s Barrel House in the North Side from 6-9PM. Wigle Whiskey will be releasing the first batch of Pennsylvania whiskey in 30 years. There will also be cake, party hats and a piñata to celebrate Wigle Whiskey’s 3rd anniversary.

A state lawmaker wants to launch an overhaul of the type and number of board members directing Penn State University's Board of Trustees.

In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal, 31 Penn State alumni ran for three seats on the board. Months later, the new group approved changes in the make up of the board to allow for more student and staff representation.

Pennsylvania Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne), who received his bachelor's and master's degrees from PSU in 1993 and 2004, respectively, said this week those measures aren't enough.

Courtesy of Tartan Rescue, Carnegie Mellon University

He can turn a wheel, pick up blocks, maneuver stairs and drive a car. He's also a 5-foot tall, 443-pound robotic monkey.

CHIMP, an acronym for CMU Highly Intelligent Mobile Platform, was developed by the Tartan Rescue Team, a group of engineers, researchers and technicians within CMU’s National Robotics Engineering Center. The team will compete next month for a $2 million first prize in the DARPA Robotics Challenge, or DRC, in Pomona, Calif. against two dozen others.

Hepatitis C: Cost In The Way Of A Cure

May 28, 2015
Ohad Cadji / PublicSource

Dee’s liver is scarred, but just a bit too healthy for her insurance to foot the bill for the new medications that cure hepatitis C more than 90 percent of the time.

The Butler County resident, who suspects she got the virus getting a tattoo, was recently told by her doctor to come back in a year.

Courtesy Dorey Whealan

The Saints Tour is a fiction inspired by, and then layered on to real places, and sometimes real people. Playwright Molly Rice creates this fictional history of Braddock around characters she calls “saints.”

“What’s special about saints is they are not angels,” Rice said. "They’re people who just did more.”

Gage Skidmore / flickr

Former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Rick Santorum has launched a second run for the White House. The 57-year-old Republican finished second to Mitt Romney for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012. But this time around, there is some doubt about his ability to place in the top 10 of national polls, a prerequisite for participating in the first Republican presidential debate in August. We'll discuss Santorum's prospects with political commentator Joe Sabino Mistick, associate professor of law at Duquesne University.

Mistick explains how Santorum's populistic approach to the GOP presidential nomination could benefit his place in the polls:

"I think his opening up of this other tack, this blue collar families and blue collar worker...it could bear some fruit... He might get some traction and that's enough to knock over a lot of furniture over on the Republican side, and perhaps place himself in a position to make a deal." - Joe Sabino Mistick

Also in the program, Open Streets Pittsburgh takes away traffic on three and a half miles of city pavement, WESA Celebrates 16,000 years of regional inhabitants in McKees Rocks and Elaine Labalme explains why summer camp isn't just for the kids.

Students attending 15 area charter schools collected $11,000 for the Homeless Children’s Education Fund to help ensure the estimated 3,000 homeless students in Allegheny County receive a proper education.

“The students grabbed the idea,” said Jeremy Resnick, executive director and co-founder of Propel Schools. “They did everything from penny wars between classrooms to putting on a big art show and selling tickets for it. There was just a huge range of activity across the schools that the students led, and it’s inspiring.”

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

A conservationist dedicated to saving African elephants one healthy birth at a time was chosen to receive the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium’s first-ever Legacy Conservation Award.

Zoo officials will honor Thomas Hildebrandt, head of the reproduction management department at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin, Germany, in a local ceremony on Thursday.

The devastating earthquake in Nepal last month killed thousands and displaced many more as homes, schools and medical clinics were left decimated in the weeks that followed.

One local charity is reaching out.

“Plea for Nepal: Special Concert” will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Campbell Memorial Hospital at Chatham University. The show will feature performances from members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Rick Santorum Launching Second White House Run

May 27, 2015
Alonzo Adams / The Associated Press

Rick Santorum, an aggressive advocate for conservative family values, will launch a second bid for president on Wednesday, a spokesman said.

The former Pennsylvania senator exceeded the political world's expectations by scoring a second-place finish in the race for the Republican presidential nomination four years ago. Yet as he competes again, he may struggle even to qualify for the debate stage in 2016.

Loco Steve / flickr

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, Positive Train Control could have prevented the derailment of Amtrak 188 that derailed in Philadelphia earlier this month. Eight people died and more than 200 people were injured. Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Bob Casey is leading a group of Senators who have sent a letter to the Appropriations Committee calling on Congress to increase funding. It has been reported that it will take $2 billion to fully implement this technology. Senator Casey joins us by phone.

Casey explains that many transit agencies across the nation are in favor of updating train safety, but with so many other areas of the country's infrastructure in need of repair, allocating the funding to trains is a difficult task:

"What the Congress should do, if we're doing the right thing, is to not put Amtrak or any transit agency in the position of having to choose between safety technology like Positive Train Control on the one hand versus fixing crumbling bridges or other parts of the aging infrastructure." - Senator Bob Casey

Also today, Historic Harmony looks for support in protecting the ground George Washington walked on, and former Steelers linebacker Andy Russell welcomes Western PA's six Pro-Hall of Fame quarterbacks to the steel city for the Gridiron Gold. 

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Following more than a year of planning, research and community meetings, Allegheny County has released the Plan for a Healthier Allegheny (PHA), which sets priorities for health officials and partners to work on going forward.

“It’s a five-year plan that sets forth health priorities, measurable goals and strategies to reach those goals,” said County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

The plan identifies five key areas to focus on, including access, the environment, maternal and child health, mental health and substance abuse.

After three years of grappling with the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, some Pittsburghers are fed up and heading to court.

The class-action lawsuit, filed May 18 in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court on behalf of Millvale property owner Susan Newman and "anyone who is a rate payer or biller," credits PWSA for eleven complaints, including breach of contract, common law fraud and civil conspiracy.

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