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Devon Christopher Adams / Flickr

Remembering Mr. Spock (41:00)

Actor Leonard Nimoy, best known as Mr. Spock on the classic television series Star Trek died last week at the age of 83. He made his Shakespearean acting debut at the Pittsburgh Public Theater in 1975. Pop culture contributor Joe Wos explains more about Nimoy's connection to the Steel City.   

Matt Rourke / Associated Press

Gov. Tom Wolf, who ran last year with the backing of environmental groups, will soon be giving a first glimpse at how his administration will approach the powerful Marcellus Shale natural gas industry.

Next week, Wolf's Department of Environmental Protection is preparing to release its plans to update various rules over the drilling industry, including how it must prevent methane leaks and how it must handle toxic wastewater.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Parents, educators, students and political representatives met for two hours Saturday to discuss reducing suspensions in school and create a climate that doesn’t push students out of school.  

The Education Law Center of Pittsburgh and Great Public Schools led a workshop-style conversation at the Kingsley Center in East Liberty titled, “educate don’t incarcerate,” a nod to the notion that disciplining students by pushing them out of school creates a pipeline to future incarceration.

Samm Hodges

The city of Pittsburgh’s Office of Municipal Investigations is looking into the use of force against an African American man wanted on two warrants after a police chase on Wednesday.

Devon Davis, 23, of the North Side was apprehended by police, who said he “sustained injuries to both legs as a result of the vehicle crash” after a car he was driving collided with another vehicle at the intersection of Wood St. and Ft. Pitt Blvd.

But at least one witness to the subsequent foot chase and arrest said Davis did not appear to be injured when he was running from police.

Associated Press

If you think it's been a cold February in Pittsburgh, you're right — near-record cold, in fact.

The National Weather Service says the city is on track for the second-coldest February since record-keeping began in 1871.

Meteorologist Rihaan Gangat said Saturday that the temperature averaged about 18.6 degrees for the first 27 days of February.

That is just over the 18-degree average recorded in 1979, the coldest February in recorded Pittsburgh history.

The next coldest February occurred in 1963, with an average temperature of 19.3 degrees.

Better Energy Storage Gives Renewables a Boost

Feb 27, 2015
Tara Holsopple / The Allegheny Front

Ted Wiley doesn’t look like your typical company vice president. He’s young, and wearing a casual blue sweater. At Aquion Energy’s small warehouse near the river in Pittsburgh, Wiley puts on clear safety glasses, and leads me down a ramp and into a room that houses the rotary dial press.

"It’s a 10-ton press and we use it to press the powders that we make one of the electrodes in our battery with," Wiley explains.

The machine isn’t really high tech. Similar models press powder into aspirin. This one spits out  black pellets which Wiley describes as, "kind of like one of the sides of an Oreo cookie."

Ty Wright / Associated Press

A+ Schools, a non-profit that advocates for accountability in Pittsburgh Public Schools had a research firm conduct a poll in late January in which residents were asked targeted questions about what changes they would like to see to schools.

405 individuals were surveyed. 79 percent of them agreed with a statement that its possible for Pittsburgh to be known as a city whose public schools have high standards, great teaching and give all students, regardless of race or background, an opportunity for a great education.

PennDOT

Some Pennsylvanians will be receiving new driver’s licenses after PennDOT officials learned Wednesday a vendor error led to security flaws in more than 100,000 cards.

According to PennDOT, the laminate supplied by Morpho Trust USA and its subcontractor OpSec, did not include the correct hidden security image. Viewed under an ultraviolet black light, proper licenses show a row of keystones with the letters “PA.” The defective cards read “AP” instead.

The Canadian National Railway Co. is hoping to finish cleaning up and repairing a line nearly in Butler County two days after 27 cars carrying iron ore derailed.

The cars, which were part of a 71-car freight train, derailed about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday in Center Township, Pennsylvania. The accident scene, near Route 308, is about 35 miles north of Pittsburgh.

Railroad spokesman Patrick Waldron said the railroad hoped to reopen the tracks Friday afternoon, provided the cars and spilled cargo could be removed and the tracks repaired by that time.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

With Pittsburgh being plunged into arctic temperatures for much of February, the rivers have seen more ice than usual. Pittsburgh’s ports and waterways are among the largest inland ports in the country – so the slowdowns caused by the ice are causing some ripple effects. Locks on the Monongahela and Ohio Rivers are still operating – though the ice is slowing traffic.

Mark Abramowitz / Opera Theater of Pittsburgh

In an attempt to both re-brand what opera can offer and what it can teach, the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh is developing an opera it has dubbed an, Eco-Opera.

“This whole notion that opera, sometimes is branded as an elitist art form, and very often the subject matter, and the medium, look back into old European works and there’s a strong sense of visiting a sort of musical theatrical museum when you go to the opera. That’s not the way we want it to be,” said the company’s artistic and general director, Jonathan Eaton.

    

Fish fries abound in Pittsburgh this time of year, and this week's Social Club is dripping with tasty fried batter. (What's the plural for "fish fry" anyway?  "Frys" or "fries"? We'll defer to The Pittsburgh Catholic newspaper and go with "fries.") 

Church basements are the place to be on a Friday night for the next six weeks, but the Pub Chip Shop of Pipers Pub serves up the good stuff all year long.

Josh Staiger / Flickr

In a recent opinion piece for the Tribune Review, pop culture correspondent Joe Wos questions whether we’re seeing the death of the art museumRobin Nicholson, Director of The Frick, Jo Ellen Parker, President of the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, and Joe Wos talk about the future of art museums.

“You know they just had museum selfie day, you know where people came in and used art as backdrops to selfies and I think that’s the risk you run. Yes you want to embrace the technology but you don’t want to devalue the experience completely,” says Wos.

Robin rebuts by saying, “I love museum selfie day. I think that it is an amazing opportunity for an individual to engage in an individual work of art that they might never look at in the same detail again.”

Jo Ellen offers a final insight, “I don’t think technology threatens the extinction of our museums. I think it will support their evolution.”  

A new Pittsburgh start-up is trying to position itself as Netflix for art. CEO Ashwin Muthiah says the  concept behind their company Easely is to make art accessible. Muthiah said the idea for Easely was inspired by an art crawl in Philadelphia last year. He stopped by the station to talk about the new company.

 

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

As you drive from Oakland to Downtown via Fifth Avenue, you still see many older buildings, but adding to the landscape now are two newly-constructed apartment buildings offering low-cost housing. One of the Uptown buildings is solely for people who have aged out of the foster care system.

“We have 24 young adults who will be moving into those units, and on the other side of the street we have 23 units that will available for working people with modest incomes,” said Larry Swanson, executive director of Action Housing.

alamosbasement/ Flickr

Governor Tom Wolf releases his state budget proposal Tuesday, and the Campaign for Fair Education Funding has a few suggestions.

Several Education watchdog groups unveiled the plan Thursday.  

“The mission of the campaign is really to focus on this need for an equitable system of funding in Pennsylvania that has enough resources in it to be sure every child has an equal chance to meet our standards,” Joan Benso, PA Partnerships for Children president and CEO, said. Benso's group is just one of several organizations working on the campaign.


When she stepped out of the Waterworks Theater Thursday afternoon, Pittsburgh Student Achievement Center 8th grader Denay Clemons called the movie Selma “an awesome portrayal.”

Denay was among approximately five hundred students from several Pittsburgh schools who were taken to see the movie about the marches in Alabama that preceded the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

“I only knew a little bit from school work and history but I learned a lot more about what happened actually like with conversation with the people who actually led the movement,” Denay said.

Allegheny County Department of Human Services

“It’s about loving your fellow Pittsburgher,” says Jon Potter who wants to create a new kind of homeless shelter.

Potter, who owns a hostel in Lawrenceville, told 90.5's Essential Pittsburgh the city has a lot of shelters that “do really good work,” but he’s trying to develop a cooperatively owned “Pittsburgh Home.”

“We want to essentially buy a house and have it be multi-unit so we can have separation of genders or even families,” Potter said.  “Then we’re going to be renting it out for a dollar a year so they can have a lease, they can prove residency, and they can prove they’ve had a landlord before to help them get off the street and get their own home eventually.”

Chuck Balcik / Allegheny Health Network

Forbes Regional Hospital will open an expanded intensive care unit next week that will look more like a 21st century ICU than the current unit that was opened more than 40 years ago. The facility in Monroeville is an accredited Level II Trauma Center, and will be adding a 20-bed ICU.

“This is a mixed medical and surgical trauma intensive care unit,” said Michael Hansen, MD, medical director of the ICU, “we’ll be able to provide the highest level of critical care treatment to the patients that come not only locally, but also from the whole eastern corridor.”

pittsburghpa.gov

With two weeks to go before the deadline to file nominating petitions, Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak has officially announced her candidacy for City Controller. 

Bob Studebaker / 90.5 WESA

The organization Global Beats strives to bring together “new” Pittsburghers from all over the world by celebrating the music of Africa, Latin America, New York City, and Cuba.

It’s an idea that began in 1999 when Carla Leininger began her show “The Brazilian Radio Hour” on Carnegie Mellon University’s radio station WRCT.


Essential Pittsburgh: Some Fresh Ways to Shelter Homeless People

Feb 26, 2015

Jon Potter, the owner of what's said to be Pittsburgh's only hostel, is trying to fund his next big project. A co-operatively owned house called the Pittsburgh Home, it would offer a safe and free place for Pittsburghers in need of shelter. He explains where things stand with the project's development and how a co-operative shelter would work.

 

With regard to his plans for the Pittsburgh Home, Potter explains:

“The shelters are great, but there’s a dignity in having your own home, and that’s what we want to provide. It’s not only dignity, but it’s having an address that you can use to apply for jobs and get a bank account and get a driver’s license. Because actually having a home, I think, is what people need.”


Governor Tom Wolf's plans to reduce corporate taxes are getting a cool reception from Republican legislative leaders who are waiting for more details.

On Wednesday, Wolf pulled back the curtain on a few of the "nice surprises" for pro-business groups in his budget proposal. He wants to bring the state's much-maligned 9.99 percent corporate net income tax down to 4.99 percent over two years.

Dank Depot / flickr

The debate over medical marijuana legalization in Pennsylvania has long transcended political parties -- instead, it’s dividing people into groups that see marijuana’s medicinal possibilities and those waiting for more definitive research.  

City of Pittsburgh

Businesses in the West End neighborhood of Pittsburgh are paying for flood insurance they might not really need anymore.

That’s according to Patrick Hassett, Assistant Director of Public Works, who said work begun by the Army Corps of Engineers in 2000 has largely stamped out the threat of flooding from Sawmill Run.

“We dredged and put in retaining walls along the stream bed to better contain the flooding waters, and PennDOT came in and made highway improvements that elevated some of the bridges to reduce the obstructions,” Hassett said.

Wilsonious / flickr

To help comply with a consent order to reduce sewer overflows in the Pittsburgh region, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) is offering grants to encouraging home and business owners to install rainwater conservation projects.

Kumar Appaiah / Flickr

For the third time in as many sessions, State Rep. Tony DeLuca (D-Allegheny) will introduce legislation putting a limit on outside income for legislators.

House Bill 566 would cap outside earned income for representatives and senators at 35 percent of their base salary as a member of the general assembly. In other words, a legislator with a salary of about $84,000 will be able to bring in as much as $29,400 in outside income.

Flickr user Peter Radunzel

The Pittsburgh Penguins and development firm Clayco are just six months away from the proposed groundbreaking for a 28 acre mixed use development in the Lower Hill. City Council on Tuesday approved a unique approach to tax abatement, which has been vital to getting the Hill community on board with the plan.

It’s been more than half a century since eight thousand Pittsburgh residents were displaced from their homes in the lower hill district, when 95 acres of a thriving, mostly African American community were razed to make way for the Civic Arena.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The Guns for Opportunity program officially launched in Braddock Tuesday night with 26 guns turned over to Allegheny County Sheriff’s deputies. Before the official 4 p.m. start time, nearly a dozen guns had already been  surrendered.

Gage Skidmore / flickr

Florida Governor Rick Scott came to Philadelphia this week to meet with company heads, to try to lure business to the Sunshine State. Scott campaigned on the promise of growing private sector jobs in Florida and one of his tactics has been to visit other states – including California, Illinois, and Maryland – to recruit job creators.

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell said it’s a bit unusual for a governor to show up like Scott did in Philadelphia “but it is not unusual at all for that state government to make calls into other businesses to urge them to relocate into their state. I did it very very often when I was governor.” States, and even municipalities, are competing for companies everyday. 

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