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Economy & Business
8:31 am
Tue January 8, 2013

Gas Prices Up in Pittsburgh, Hold Steady Nationwide

Looking for a cheaper tank of gas? You might want to fill up in the Rockies.

Average gas prices in Pittsburgh rose two cents in the last week, while lower prices are outside the Northeast, according to GasBuddy.com.

Patrick DeHann, the website’s Senior Petroleum Analyst, said the average Pittsburgh price for gas is $3.51 a gallon, compared to the national average of $3.26.

He said the increase is due to oil prices making advances and tight oil reserves.

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Education & Learning
8:31 am
Tue January 8, 2013

Volunteers Needed to Interview Pittsburgh Public School District Principals

The education watchdog group A+ Schools is looking for volunteers who will help the organization conduct interviews with Pittsburgh Public School District principals this February.

It will be the fourth year of the "School Works" interviews for A+ Schools, which organizes the data it gathers into a report each spring. Past years have seen the group hold talks with teachers and guidance counselors as well as principals.

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Government & Politics
8:31 am
Tue January 8, 2013

State Senator Daylin Leach Wants to Legalize Marijuana

In November, Colorado and Washington legalized the use of marijuana via voter referendum.  A state legislator is pushing to add Pennsylvania to the list of 19 states which have adopted laws permitting the use of marijuana for either medicinal or recreational purposes.

State Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) calls the statewide ban on marijuana an irrational policy.

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Government & Politics
9:42 pm
Mon January 7, 2013

PNC One of Banks to Pay for Foreclosure Mishandling

PNC Financial Services and nine other mortgage-servicing companies reached an agreement to pay more than $8.5 billion in cash and assistance to borrowers whose homes were wrongly foreclosed.

The settlement was announced this morning by the Federal Reserve and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC).

The lenders, which include Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Citibank agreed to the payment in order to close a review process ordered under a 2011 enforcement action because of banks mishandling foreclosure paperwork and skipping foreclosure steps. 

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Transportation
6:55 pm
Mon January 7, 2013

Port Authority Making New Hires To Fill Retirement Vacancies

Due to an increase in retirements recently, the Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAT) is hiring drivers this month while recruiting even more to fill operator vacancies in the future.  A new contract set in place this past summer along with funding cuts has made it more difficult for the transit agency to attract new drivers.

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Government & Politics
6:47 pm
Mon January 7, 2013

Fewer Inmates, but Still Overpopulated

Inmate population in the commonwealth's prisons dropped dramatically since 2011.  A decrease of 454 incarcerated individuals marks the biggest one-year drop in 42 years.

It's only the third time in 40 years that the state saw a decrease in prisoners rather than an increase.  Susan McNaughton, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections spokeswoman, said the numbers show 2012's Justice Reinvestment Initiative efforts are working and improving in the state's prison system. 

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Government & Politics
6:19 pm
Mon January 7, 2013

DA to Examine 911 Call Made Before New Year's Eve Shooting

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala said Monday he's reviewing the details of a fatal New Year's Eve shooting in which the victim requested police via 911, only to have her attacker turn the officers away through a window and apparently proceed to shoot her.

The body of 33-year old Ka'Sandra Wade was found Tuesday in her Larimer home.  Her boyfriend and suspected shooter, 51-year old Anthony Brown, killed himself after a standoff with police at his own apartment in Point Breeze on Wednesday.

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Science & Technology
8:23 am
Mon January 7, 2013

Too Much Work+Truancy=Antisocial Behavior?

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Sending a high-risk teen to work won't necessarily keep him or her out of trouble, according to a recent University of Pittsburgh study.  The research indicates  high school-age juvenile offenders who are employed during the academic year and do not attend school regularly are more likely to engage in antisocial, or destructive, behavior.

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Government & Politics
8:23 am
Mon January 7, 2013

PA Agencies Self-Report Accomplishments, Challenges

The Corbett administration has released the annual Report on State Performance which examines the accomplishments and challenges of 30 commonwealth agencies in seven areas:  economic development, education, the environment, consumer protection, government efficiency, health and human services and public safety.

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Economy & Business
8:23 am
Mon January 7, 2013

State Reports Savings, but Minuscule Compared to Budget

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A new state department is reporting it saved $84 million for the commonwealth since March.

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Government & Politics
8:23 am
Mon January 7, 2013

Commonwealth Foundation Says Lottery Privatization Will Save Senior Services

Demand for services funded by the Pennsylvania lottery will start outpacing its revenue if nothing is done, according to the Commonwealth Foundation.

A new report from the conservative public policy think tank warns that more than 5,000 Pennsylvania seniors have been wait listed to receive lottery benefits and over the past two years waiting lists grew by 52 percent.

Elizabeth Stelle, a policy analyst for the Foundation, said seniors will face program cuts or other revenue streams will need to be found unless something is done.

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Arts & Culture
8:23 am
Mon January 7, 2013

Speaking Volumes: Cindy Skrzycki

A seasoned journalist and senior lecturer for the University of Pittsburgh’s writing program, Cindy Skrzycki has an eye for a story. Her recent fiction and nonfiction book selections reflect what she teaches her students: Foundationally, good writing is informed writing. 

Joan Clark, Latitudes of Melt

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Environment & Energy
8:23 am
Mon January 7, 2013

Low Vitamin D Levels Associated with Lower Birth Rates

A new study from the University of Pittsburgh finds low Vitamin D Levels early in pregnancy are associated with lower birth weights.

The study will be in the January edition of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Lead Author Alison Gernand from The Graduate School of Public Health says there has been an increased interest in looking at Vitamin D levels in pregnancy in recent years.

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Health
11:15 am
Sun January 6, 2013

Pennsylvania Coal Mines Must Install Defibrillators

Coal companies are installing defibrillators in their mines to comply with a new order from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

A new regulation approved in December requires all coal mines to be equipped with defibrillators, at the entrance and in each underground section, by March 8. The change comes as a result of a suggestion from a private citizen in Erie County, according to DEP spokesman Kevin Sunday.

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Government & Politics
11:18 pm
Sat January 5, 2013

Governor Corbett Defends His NCAA Lawsuit

Governor Tom Corbett is fending off criticism that his lawsuit against the NCAA was filed for political reasons. Governor Corbett is suing the governing body for collegiate athletics over the sanctions it placed on Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

He said he didn’t object to the penalties last summer when they were handed down because he didn’t realize the NCAA had violated its own rules. Governor Corbett said he would not have filed the lawsuit if he didn’t think he had a legitimate case.

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Arts & Culture
8:46 pm
Fri January 4, 2013

Artistic Food Drives Featured Canned Food Sculptures

Along with the holiday season, the Arts Coalition of the Alleghenies in Johnstown has wrapped up all of their food drives, but not before the food that was collected was put on display in a unique and unconventional way.

“Since we are the Arts Coalition, we figured we’d do something related to art, so we took all the canned goods and made them into sculptures,” said Michael Bodolosky, Executive Director of the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, one of the locations were the artwork was displayed.

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Government & Politics
6:28 pm
Fri January 4, 2013

State System and Faculty Union Resume Contract Talks

Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) officials and leaders of the union representing faculty are back at the negotiating table today.  It is the first meeting since Dec. 11.

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Education & Learning
6:03 pm
Fri January 4, 2013

Pitt Panthers Go Bowling Saturday

The Pitt Panthers are headed back to the BBVA Compass Bowl for the third straight year after becoming bowl eligible on the final weekend of the regular season.

Coach Paul Chryst has guided the Panthers to a fifth consecutive bowl appearance despite going 3-4 in-conference in their final season in the Big East before moving to the ACC.

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Environment & Energy
5:58 pm
Fri January 4, 2013

County Board of Health Making Minor Changes to Air Quality Regulations

The Allegheny County Board of Health is accepting public comment on two proposed changes to air quality regulations. The changes are pretty minor, the first would get rid of the list of ambient air quality standards.

“That’s because whenever EPA updates these at the federal level, we have to go back and update our regulations. So just to make it easier and make sure that our regulations stay consistent with what’s happening at the federal level,” said Alaina Conner, pollution prevention and outreach coordinator at the county health department.

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Gas Leak
4:57 pm
Fri January 4, 2013

Gas Leak Found Near Water Main Break Downtown

Equitable Gas crews have found a dime-sized hole in a gas line next to a water main break on Fort Pitt Boulevard. The 20 inch line was damaged when a waterline burst early Thursday morning. The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority thought the repairs to the 12 inch water main would be finished Thursday night, but the smell of gas alerted crews to the leak. Equitable Gas spokesman Scott Waitlevertch said repairs are underway and expects to have the job finished in the next few hours,

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Government & Politics
3:52 pm
Fri January 4, 2013

PA Collects $171 Million More in Taxes Than Estimated

Halfway through Pennsylvania’s fiscal year the state Department of Revenue has brought in $12.2 billion, about 1.4 percent above what was projected.

Department spokesperson Elizabeth Brassell said it’s good news to be above estimate so far, but the months they collect the most revenues are still ahead.

She said, compared to the halfway point of the 2011-12 fiscal year, the state is doing well.

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Economy & Business
2:23 am
Fri January 4, 2013

Butter Sculpture Shows PA Agriculture Pride

Another year, another Pennsylvania Farm Show: the butter sculpture has been unveiled at the 97th annual agricultural extravaganza beginning Saturday.

The 2013 butter sculpture is an array of Pennsylvania-produced agricultural products – among them, chicken, wood, wine, and mushrooms.

Dairy Princess Maria Jo Noble of Bradford County was on-hand for the unveiling, but she didn’t get an early look at what one presenter called the “buttery masterpiece.”

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Government & Politics
8:08 pm
Thu January 3, 2013

New Year, New Medicaid Reimbursement Rates

Primary care physicians and practitioners who treat Medicaid patients will receive higher reimbursement rates in 2013.

For the next two years, primary care providers will get the same payments for treating Medicaid patients as they would for Medicare patients. The payments for Medicare patients have traditionally been higher.

The increase will be paid for by the federal government as part of an Affordable Care Act initiative to boost access to primary care and preventive medicine.

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Government & Politics
7:28 pm
Thu January 3, 2013

Senator: Penn State Fines Should Be Used for PA Abuse Victims

The $60 million Penn State was fined in July by the NCAA should be used for child abuse victims' programs in-state rather than nationally, according to State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne).

Yudichak announced his support of Senator Jake Corman’s (R-Centre County) legislation directing the fine levied against Penn State to be used within the commonwealth. The fine is one of the sanctions issued by the NCAA against the university as part of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

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Government & Politics
6:45 pm
Thu January 3, 2013

Controller Calls for Greater Accountability for County Property Tax Exemptions

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner released an audit Thursday of the Office of Property Assessments (OPA) that calls for greater accountability, increased transparency, and oversight of all tax relief and tax forgiveness programs. 

One of the key findings of the audit is that Wagner believes there currently is inadequate oversight for tax exemptions granted to non-profit and charitable organizations. The county is responsible for going out every three years to ensure a property’s tax-exempt status is still warranted. That, according to Wagner, isn’t happening.

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