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Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority board of directors on Friday approved a cooperation agreement with the City of Pittsburgh to enter into a contract for consulting on the potential restructuring of the authority.

What Happens When You Mix An NFL Draft With Watercolors?

2 hours ago
Emma Lee / WHYY

Art is having a hard time competing with football.

The NFL draft has taken over most of the Parkway, as well as the famous Rocky steps that lead to Philadelphia Museum of Art, completely blocking its front entrance.

The museum will remain open during its regular hours throughout the draft, via it West side entrance, at the rear of the building near the Schuylkill River.

Jim Bourg / AP

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

Each week, reporters, editors and bloggers join veteran journalist and host Kevin Gavin to take an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The “Soul of Kennywood” is how some refer to the band organ that sits in the center of the park’s carousel.

It’s a century old and each year before the park opens for the summer, it gets serviced. For the last two years, Joe Hilferty has been the man tuning and fixing the organ, which consists of a series of wooden pipes encased behind a pane.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 fm WESA

It’s been a good news, bad news year for the arts when it comes to the state budget debate. 

The budgets proposed by both Gov. Tom Wolf and the House Republican Caucus keep funding for the Pennsylvania Council for the Arts at $9.6 million, as well as $2 million for museums.

However, both budget proposals move the funding out of the general budget where it has traditionally resided.

The governor’s plan funds the arts and other line items through the issuance of bonds. But the Republican Caucus rejected that proposal.

Bell Tolls As Police Ambush Killer Gets Death Sentence

Apr 27, 2017
Rich Schultz / AP

The bell atop the Pike County Courthouse last tolled the fate of a condemned killer in the 1980s.

On Wednesday, it rang again.

Eric Frein, the would-be revolutionary who shot two Pennsylvania troopers, one fatally, in a late-night attack at their barracks, was sentenced to death late Wednesday. The jury's decision that Frein should die by lethal injection brought a shouted "yes!" from a gallery that included high-ranking state police brass, the slain officer's mother and the trooper who suffered debilitating injuries after Frein shot him with a high-powered rifle.

Matt Rourke / AP

Sentencing has been scheduled for three former top officials at Penn State University who were convicted of child endangerment in the Jerry Sandusky molestation scandal.

Former university president Graham Spanier, former vice president Gary Schultz and former athletic director Tim Curley will be sentenced June 2 in Harrisburg.

Curley and Schultz pleaded guilty to misdemeanor child endangerment. Spanier went to trial and was convicted in March. His lawyer said he will appeal.

Make the Road Pennsylvania / Facebook

More than 100 Hispanic-owned businesses in and around the eastern Pennsylvania city of Reading plan to close on May 1.

The move organized by Make the Road PA is to celebrate International Workers' Day but also to protest the immigration policies of the Trump Administration.

The Berks County business owners have signed a pledge to close that day, and are urging people not to shop that day.

Reading and Berks County have some of the highest concentrations of Hispanic residents in the state.

The group is also planning marches in Reading and Harrisburg that day.

David Bachman Photography

When Sean Gibson was first approached by a musician wanting to write an opera about his great-grandfather, he was a little skeptical.

Rick Bowmer / AP

A bill that could potentially eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood facilities in Pennsylvania has passed a state Senate committee. 

Governor Tom Wolf / Flickr

Regulators say Pennsylvania's medical marijuana program remains on schedule after hundreds of applications poured in from those who want to grow, process and dispense the drug.

Health Secretary Karen Murphy said Wednesday her agency has received more than 500 packages, some containing multiple applications.

Teams are sorting, evaluating and scoring the applications with a goal of issuing permits by the end of June. Licensees will have six months to get up and running.

midquel / Flickr

New data suggests that Pittsburgh sewer overflows may be 15 percent greater than prior estimates, which were based on data from 2003. A new report from the RAND Corporation analyzes data collected by ALCOSAN between 2004 and 2013.

 

Furthermore, the volume of water overflowing from local sewers could rise in coming decades, according to Jordan Fischbach, co-director of RAND’s Water & Climate Resilience Center.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania has been awarded a $26.5 million federal grant to combat the heroin crisis. 

The first requirement of the grant is to perform a needs assessment within four months of receiving the funds.

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

When Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy CEO Meg Cheever looks out of the “living room” of Frick Parks' environmental center, she marvels at what she sees. 

When I look out the windows, I see a wonderful park," she said. "I see lots of green trees and nature, sometimes a red-tailed hawk sometimes people enjoying the park and walking their dogs and taking their kids by the hand."

Jamie / Flickr

Hershey Co. on Wednesday reported a steep slide in first-quarter profit on a hefty charge, but the results still topped Wall Street expectations.

The Hershey, Pennsylvania-based company saw profit fall 45 percent to $125 million, or 58 cents per share. The drop was due to a $208.7 million charge for property and equipment writedowns.

Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, were $1.31 per share, which topped Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of six analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.26 per share.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

A western Pennsylvania school district is scrapping water wells and opting for city-treated water so it can reopen an elementary school shuttered after high levels of lead were found in its water.

The Butler School District closed Summit Elementary School in February and moved pupils to Broad Street Elementary School, which had been shuttered.

House Approves Bill To Sell Pennsylvania's Liquor Wholesale System

Apr 26, 2017
Larkin Page-Jacobs / 90.5 WESA

House Republicans on Tuesday pushed ahead a set of changes to how alcohol is sold in the state, moving to privatize wholesale wine and spirits sales and expand the retail outlets where booze is available.

Lawmakers voted 105-84 in favor of the wholesale divestment proposal, sending it with other proposals to the Senate for its consideration.

The House voted to allow more grocery stores to seek permits to sell wine, no longer restricting the permits to stores with seating capacity, and retailers would be able to buy wine from brokers in the private sector.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Governor Tom Wolf and state Treasurer Joe Torsella say they have a way to cut down on Pennsylvania’s mountainous pension costs: change investment strategies to cut down on fees to outside money managers.

Spokespeople for the state’s two biggest pension funds say they’re open to considering the idea, though they note, they’ve already been doing it to some extent.

The fees Pennsylvania pays to outside investors are among the highest in the country. In 2015, they made up almost $600 million of the money spent by the systems for retired state and public school employees.

Is The Nation's Only Lt. Governor Mansion Worth Its Cost?

Apr 26, 2017
Pennsylvania Department of General Services

Nestled on a wooded hillside at Fort Indiantown Gap is a one-of-a-kind home - and it comes with a one-of-a-kind price tag to taxpayers.

The 2,400-square-foot Lieutenant Governor's residence off Fisher Avenue in East Hanover Township may be the only residence that any state provides to its second in command.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

A GOP-proposed bill currently sitting in the state House is raising questions about who should be responsible for keeping Pennsylvania students safe.

Fred Vuich / AP

Last week, Major League Baseball suspended Pirates center fielder Starling Marte for 80 games for using performance enhancing drugs.

That suspension means Marte, who has four more years left on a $31 million contract, won’t be eligible to play in the post-season, even if the Bucs make the playoffs this season because of a rule change agreed upon in the most recent round of collective bargaining.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Below a tangle of highways along the southern edge of Pittsburgh’s downtown is a truncated section of concrete. The Mon Wharf Landing may look as if it goes nowhere, some sort of multi-modal experiment that was never completed.

Until now. 

Are High-Speed Police Chases Worth It?

Apr 25, 2017
Houston Chronicle/Nick de la Torre / via AP

High-speed chases down busy highways have become a news staple, as police attempt to arrest alleged criminals. But the people most often hurt by these scenes are the innocent civilians. Thousand have been injured or killed over the past few decades.

On this week’s episode of 90.5 WESA’s Criminal Injustice podcast, law professor and host David Harris talked to Dr. Geoff Alpert of the University of Carolina about whether these high-speed chases are really worth the cost.

Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity. 

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

 

State Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Delaware, Montgomery) said he expects that medical marijuana will be available in plant form in dispensaries next year. Leach made the comments Friday afternoon during a panel discussion at the World Medical Cannabis Expo at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The fight between the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority and the company that managed its operations for three-and-a-half years has entered a new and more combative stage.

Veolia Water North America has decided to withdraw from mediation with PWSA and instead enter into a formal arbitration proceeding. Arbitration and mediation are both provided for in the contract signed by both parties in 2012.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner said she will investigate the county health department’s methodology for determining the cause of elevated lead levels in children.

Mayoral Forum, May 9 at 7PM

Apr 24, 2017

 

90.5 WESA and The Incline will present a Mayoral forum at 7pm on May 9, 2017, featuring Mayor Bill Peduto and primary challengers, Rev. John Welch and City Council member Darlene Harris. It will be moderated by WESA's Mark Nootbaar and The Incline's Sarah Anne Hughes, and will be broadcast live on 90.5 WESA and wesa.fm.

Real Estate Investor To Challenge Casey In Pennsylvania's US Senate Race

Apr 24, 2017
Matt Slocum / AP

There's a new face in the crowd that's vying to challenge the re-election bid by Pennsylvania's Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey.

Real estate investor Jeffrey Bartos announced Monday that he'll seek the Republican Party nomination to challenge Casey in 2018.

The 44-year-old Bartos lives in Montgomery County and has never run for office before.

Those already announcing their candidacy or filing paperwork with the Federal Election Commission include Republican state Reps. Rick Saccone and Jim Christiana, Republican Andrew Shecktor and Libertarian Dale Kerns.

Chelsea Beck / NPR

Before his election, back in October, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump laid out a 100 Day Action Plan. He called it his Contract With The American Voter. Among other things, it called for the full repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, suspension of immigration from certain "terror-prone regions," and the lifting of "roadblocks" to let "infrastructure projects like the Keystone Pipeline move forward."

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