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Education & Learning
12:07 pm
Sun January 27, 2013

Lengthy Election Process Opens for Penn State Trustees

The latest election for Penn State trustee members may serve as another barometer of how well the university is recovering from scandal in the minds of alumni.

Only a housecleaning will do, some of the school's more vocal alumni say, in order for them to regain trust in school leadership following the turmoil that started in 2011 with the arrest of former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky on child sex abuse charges.

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Environment & Energy
11:57 am
Sun January 27, 2013

Focus On Fracking Diverts Attention From Horizontal Drilling

Mention the recent surge in oil and natural gas production in the U.S. and one word comes to mind for a lot of people: "fracking." Hydraulic fracturing is a controversial technique that uses water, sand and potentially hazardous chemicals to break up rock deep underground to release oil and natural gas.

But there's another technology that is just as responsible for drilling booms happening across the country: horizontal drilling.

Environmental Consequences

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Government & Politics
11:51 am
Sun January 27, 2013

Long-time Women’s Rights/Environmental Advocate Announces Run for Pittsburgh City Council

Jeanne Clark officially announced her candidacy for Pittsburgh City Council on Saturday, she’s seeking the District 8 seat currently held by Bill Peduto, who is running for Mayor. Clark said there are four main areas she will focus on, among them city finances.

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Government & Politics
12:00 pm
Sat January 26, 2013

State Legislation Would Address LGBT Bullying

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State Representative Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, is supporting House Bill 156, which provides for anti-bullying programs in Pennsylvania schools that would specifically protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students.  

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Government & Politics
6:42 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

Orie Melvin Defense Tells Jury to Look for the North Star

Attorneys for suspended Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin and her sister, Janine Orie made their opening arguments to a jury of 9 women and 3 men Friday morning in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas downtown.  The two co-defendants are accused of misusing government resources and staffers for Melvin’s state Supreme Court campaigns in 2003 and 2009.  There are also counts of conspiracy, tampering with evidence and official oppression.

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Government & Politics
6:28 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

Pennsylvania Study to Examine Radiation Levels in Oil and Gas Development

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection will conduct a study examining naturally-occurring levels of radioactivity in by-products associated with oil and natural gas development.

“In the coming months DEP is going to analyze the radiation levels in flowback water, treatment solids and drill cuttings and also look at how these wastes are getting transported, stored and disposed of,” said DEP spokesman Kevin Sunday.

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Transportation
6:04 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

Snow Comes Fast to Pittsburgh Region

<strong>UPDATED 4:10pm:</strong> The first flakes of snow began to fall in the Pittsburgh area a little after 10:00am Friday and the first reports of slippery roads and sidewalks were not far behind.  A winter weather advisory remains in effect for most of southwestern Pennsylvania until 1:00am Saturday. 

The National Weather service is calling for 1-2 inches of accumulation with as much as six inches in the Laurel Highlands where the advisory does not expire until Saturday afternoon. 

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Government & Politics
4:37 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

PAT Board Postpones Meeting with CEO on Hot Seat

As rumors swirled around the possible departure of Port Authority of Allegheny County Chief Executive Officer Stephen Bland, the Authority’s board abruptly announced it was rescheduling its monthly meeting Friday.  It has been widely speculated that County Executive Rich Fitzgerald is trying to flex his political muscle to oust Bland who has been with the Authority as CEO since 2006.

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Environment & Energy
9:26 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Nuclear Power Plant Spawned Band of Snow over Western Pennsylvania

The National Weather Service said a nuclear power plant in Shippingport, PA was partially responsible for a narrow band of snow that fell on parts of western Pennsylvania Tuesday night.

Chief Meteorologist Rich Kane said the conditions were ripe for the incident: the cooling tower spews moisture and the air outside was frigid.

“So it’s everything you need to have like a mini lake Erie,” he said, “if we had hundreds of cooling towers right upstream from us, we would have hundreds of plumes coming up and it would almost resemble a lake effect.”

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Government & Politics
9:06 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Highmark Files New Papers With Insurance Department

Highmark Inc. President and CEO William Winkenwerder addressed the next steps the insurance provider is taking in its efforts to acquire the fledgling West Penn Allegheny Health System.

“In addition to preserving choice and access to affordable health care for this community, this affiliation will help slow the rise of health care costs, improve the quality of care in the region and create a better experience for a lot of patients,” he said.

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Education & Learning
8:18 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

PASSHE/ASCUF Negotiations Continue - Each Side Calls the Other "Unreasonable"

The chairman of the board of Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities and faculty union leaders are accusing each other of being unreasonable in their stalled contract talks. A spokesman for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education points out only one union is holding out on agreeing to cost-saving measures.

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Government & Politics
8:12 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

State Sen. Williams Wants Judges to Be Decided on Merit

With the trial of Pennsylvania State Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin set to begin Friday, Pennsylvania State Senator Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia County) is rolling out legislation that would change the way the state's judges are chosen.  Williams is calling for the end of judicial election and the beginning of a merit selection system.

Under Williams’ legislation, judges serving on the state’s Commonwealth, Superior, and Supreme Courts would be appointed by the governor based on a list of candidates presented by a special commission.

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Economy & Business
7:27 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Allegheny County Controller: Residents to Overpay Taxes in 2013

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner told reporters Thursday the county property tax rate needs to be further reduced and that county residents will be overpaying on their taxes this year if it is not lowered.

Over the last two weeks, the Controller’s office has been analyzing data looking at how the county has set its millage rate and how tax bills are going to affect county residents.

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Government & Politics
7:21 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Pittsburgh Attorney Hens-Greco Announces City Council Candidacy

Attorney and civic activist Sam Hens-Greco has announced his candidacy for Pittsburgh City Council District 8. Hens-Greco is also chair of Pittsburgh’s 14th Ward Democratic Committee.

“Like many other cities, we have certain problems, financial, economic, and social problems, and I think we need leadership that is going to directly talk about and work to solve these problems,” said Hens-Greco.

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Government & Politics
3:19 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Orie Melvin Trial Opens Friday

County prosecutors and defense attorneys will open the campaign corruption trial of suspended Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin and her sister, Janine, on Friday before a jury of 12 and four alternates selected in a daylong session Wednesday.

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Government & Politics
12:23 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Pittsburgh to Adjust Property Tax Rate to Account for Reassessment

Although the total value of all property in the city of Pittsburgh will rise from 2012 to 2013 thanks to Allegheny County's property reassessment, the city is legally required to collect the same amount of property taxes from last year to this year. That means the city must lower its property tax rate, and Pittsburgh City Council started that process Wednesday.

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Government & Politics
9:38 pm
Wed January 23, 2013

Casey Bill Would Give Tax Credits to Companies That Add Jobs

Saying the economy is not generating jobs at a fast enough pace, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) wants to give tax credits to companies that expand their workforce.

Casey today introduced The Small Business Job Creation Act of 2013 which would give a tax break to businesses that hire new workers and increase wages. Based on current average weekly earnings of private sector employees, a business would receive a tax break of approximately $4,250 over the course of the year for hiring an additional employee.

The private sector created 168,000 jobs in December.

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Government & Politics
9:25 pm
Wed January 23, 2013

Dueling Rallies Tackle Gun Issue in Harrisburg

Dueling rallies from groups on either side of the gun debate filled the halls of the state Capitol Wednesday.  

First to convene was the gun rights group Pennsylvania Responsible Citizens – with about 150 people standing on the Capitol steps. Not many would welcome standing outside in 15-degree weather, but there was reason for the outdoor venue.

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Economy & Business
9:00 pm
Wed January 23, 2013

1 in 4 Western PA Business Leaders Plans to Add Jobs

A survey of the state's business leaders indicates confidence has fallen, but in the Pittsburgh region, they remains optimistic.  

The First Niagara Survey of Business Leaders conducted by Siena College Research Institute shows CEO confidence statewide is more negative than it is positive for the first time in four years.  The survey included 715 corporate leaders from various industry sectors in the state including retail, financial, and manufacturing.

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Government & Politics
8:35 pm
Wed January 23, 2013

Pittsburgh Council Set to Confirm New Citizens Police Review Board Member

After an amicable interview with Pittsburgh City Council on Wednesday, it appears Karen McLellan of the North Side will become the newest member of the Citizens Police Review Board (CPRB). 

McLellan, a former Pittsburgh policewoman for 31 years, would join the police watchdog group immediately following a Council vote on Tuesday. Her term would expire on the last day of October this year. Several of the seats on the CPRB must go to individuals with certain expertise.  In this case the appointee must have experience in law enforcement.

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Government & Politics
7:15 pm
Wed January 23, 2013

PA "Benefit Corporations" Pledge to Give Back to Community

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A new law allows corporations to contribute to the community and be environmentally friendly without a legal repercussion from stakeholders.  As of Tuesday, Pennsylvania became the 12th state to allow a company to file as a benefit corporation. 

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Government & Politics
6:10 pm
Wed January 23, 2013

Jury Selection Moving Quickly in Judge Orie Case

Seven jurors have been selected for the corruption trial for suspended Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin and her sister, Janine.

They are charged with illegally using Melvin's former Superior Court staff to run her political campaigns. Both deny wrongdoing.

Allegheny County prosecutors say Melvin used her taxpayer-funded staff to campaign for the state's highest court in 2003 and 2009.

Twenty potential jurors were interviewed Wednesday in Pittsburgh. Lawyers hope to pick 12 regular jurors and four alternates.

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Science & Technology
5:51 pm
Wed January 23, 2013

PA Power Company to use Scrubber Waste in Coal Mine Reclamation Project

Mid-Atlantic power company FirstEnergy has announced a plan to send scrubber material and coal combustion byproducts (CCBs) from its Bruce Mansfield Plant in Shippingport, PA to a coal mine reclamation project in La Belle, PA.

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Transportation
5:41 pm
Wed January 23, 2013

Cold Equals Calls for Western Pennsylvania AAA

It’s the dead of winter, and that can mean issues with your car.

AAA East Central spokesperson Bevi Powell said call volume has doubled because of Pittsburgh’s stretch of below-freezing temperatures.

“Most of those calls coming in are primarily batteries that won’t start, and then tires, because the cold weather affects the air pressure on your tires,” Powell said. “And then lockouts because people start their cars so that its nice and warm, and then they discover that they’ve locked their keys in the car.”

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Government & Politics
12:21 pm
Wed January 23, 2013

Decision to Close PA Prisons Comes Under Fire

The Corbett administration's plan to close two state prisons in western Pennsylvania encountered turbulence Tuesday as some senators and union leaders called for slowing down the process to allow the roughly 800 employees at the two facilities to plan their futures.

The discussion at a two-hour Senate Judiciary Committee hearing focused as much on the lack of advance warning and the upheaval facing employees at Greensburg and Cresson prisons as it did on the cost-cutting plan to shut down the facilities by June 30.

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