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Pennsylvania
11:31 am
Wed April 10, 2013

Insurer Highmark Inc. Worth $15.2 Billion

Pittsburgh-based Highmark Inc., the state's largest health insurance company, is now worth $15.2 billion and turned a profit of $432.2 million last year, though that includes assets gained when it acquired Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware.

Without that acquisition, Highmark's profit was $246.5 million, the company says in a release Wednesday.

Highmark's profit was $444.7 million in 2011, but the company's value was $14.8 billion.

Pennsylvania
10:25 am
Wed April 10, 2013

Next move Is Unclear After Penn State Case Ruling

For months, the criminal case against three former Penn State administrators accused of covering up abuse complaints about Jerry Sandusky has been in limbo while a judge considered their request to have the case thrown out.

Judge Barry Feudale's ruling against Graham Spanier, Gary Schultz and Tim Curley could clear the way for a district judge to finally conduct the preliminary hearing that had once been scheduled for last December.

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Local Economy
9:51 am
Wed April 10, 2013

NCAA Frozen Four Seen as Boon to Pittsburgh Economy

On Monday night, the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four wrapped up in Atlanta with fans leaving behind an estimated $70 million dollar economic impact.

This week, Pittsburgh is hosting the NCAA men’s ice hockey final four, and while it won’t bring in $70 million, it is being seen as a boon for the local economy.

Six years ago Robert Morris University Senior Associate Athletic Director Marty Galosi decided he wanted to host the tournament, known as the Frozen Four, so he put in a bid and started to lobby.

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Community Colleges
9:23 am
Wed April 10, 2013

Weary of Level Funding, Community Colleges Ask for More

Community colleges across the state are asking lawmakers for a budget bump.

Students, teachers and trustees packed the state Capitol rotunda Tuesday to ask for a break from the state’s years-long streak of mostly flat-funding its 14 community colleges.

“The dwindling support over the past years from both local sponsors and the state is having a toll on our institutions and risking the student experience,” said Alex Johnson, president of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges.

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Urban Redevelopment Authority
3:30 am
Wed April 10, 2013

City Agency to Apply for State Grants for Major Developments in Downtown, East Liberty

The Gardens at Market Square project is slated to receive an RACP grant.
Credit Rachel R. Grozanick / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh's Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is working to snag $9.25 million in state grants for two major new projects in Downtown and the East End, as well as for two smaller developments in Oakland and the West End.

On Tuesday, the URA submitted to city council legislation that would allow the agency to apply for the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grants from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett's budget office. The Corbett administration has already confirmed that the grants will be awarded if the enabling legislation passes council.

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U.S. Supreme Court
9:25 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

SCOTUS Justice Clarence Thomas Visits Duquesne University

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas spoke at Duquesne University Tuesday afternoon on topics ranging from his childhood in segregated Georgia to his 22-year tenure on the nation's highest court.

Thomas is the only black justice to serve on the Supreme Court after Thurgood Marshall. Thomas filled Marshall's vacated position on the bench.

Born in Pin Point, Ga. in 1948, Thomas said he grew up in a poor black community, but he was pushed toward academic success by his grandfather and the nuns at his Catholic school.

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Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

Steelers Quarterback Charlie Batch Promoting Neighborhood Peace

Steelers Quarterback Charlie Batch talks about being an activist and a community peacekeeper
Credit CharlieBatch.com

Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch talks about winning the Byron "Whizzer" White Award, an honor given by the NFL Players Association for his work in the community and lending more than just his name to the foundations he works with. Batch started his Best of the Batch Foundation 12 years ago, fulfilling a promise he made after his younger sister, Danyl Settles was shot and killed in the crossfire between rival gangs in their Homewood neighborhood.  

Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

Ira Glass Reinventing Radio

Ira Glass speaking at CMU in 2006
Credit Wikipedia

The public radio program This American Life has been entertaining audiences for two decades. The program was recently awarded its fourth Peabody Award. Host Ira Glass talks with us about the program, reinventing radio and his status as a celebrity. He comes to the Hillman Center for performing arts this weekend.

Pennsylvania
8:59 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

Clarion County Man Indicted in Teen Girl Kidnap Case

A federal grand jury has indicted a Clarion County man on charges of interstate transportation of a minor for the purpose of engaging in unlawful sexual activity.

U.S. Attorney for Western PA David Hickton said 31-year-old Joshua D. Baker of Leeper is also charged with travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a 13-year-old female. The indictment followed an investigation by the FBI and Clarion County authorities.

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PublicSource
5:31 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

Former Coach with Troubled Past Works with Teens Again

Lantz Hare, 2010
Credit Photo courtesy of Mike Hare

Through all the chaos and sorrow that swept through Joplin, Mo., after a devastating tornado in 2011, one man stood out.

David Scott Zimmerman of O’Hara near Pittsburgh consoled teens on Facebook, shipped T-shirts to boys who needed clothing, and prodded a family to form a youth group in honor of their son, who died in the storm.

“He put himself out there for us,” said Shannon Hare, whose stepson, Lantz Hare, 16, was killed in the tornado. “We trusted him.”

Michael and Shannon Hare started the youth group, and Zimmerman helped.

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Gender Equality
4:23 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

Pittsburghers Rally for Equal Pay for Women

Women and men held signs demanding equal pay at the Equal Payday rally in Market Square Tuesday.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

During the lunch hour Tuesday, a crowd gathered at Market Square in downtown Pittsburgh to mark Equal Payday. It’s a day on which rallies are held across the country to bring attention to the fact that women still make less money than men.

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Child Safety
3:39 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

State Lawmakers in Dueling Efforts to Fix Child Protection Infrastructure

A state Senate Republican is making a concerted push for the cautious approach when it comes to child protection legislation.

House lawmakers are poised to advance a number of proposals intended to make children safer in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky abuse case.

But at a joint committee hearing this week, GOP state Sen. Bob Mensch of Montgomery County said he’s taking to heart advice from others not to rush anything that could add to the burden of local child welfare offices.  

"This is the first step, not the last step," he said.

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Transportation
3:15 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

State Lawmakers Offer Warnings About Distracted Driving

Any number of activities can divert a driver’s attention — changing the radio station, reaching for a coffee cup or checking one’s makeup — but state Sen. Rob Teplitz (D-Dauphin County) and state Rep. Brandon Neuman (D-Washington County) held a news conference Tuesday to specifically discourage cell phone use while driving. 

Texting while driving is banned in 39 states and the District of Columbia. It's a primary offense in Pennsylvania, meaning a driver can be stopped by police just for texting. Ten states have banned all handheld cell phone use while driving.  

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National Aviary
3:00 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

National Aviary Welcomes Baby Eurasian Eagle Owl

A 28-day-old Eurasian Eagle Owl makes her debute at the National Aviary. They grow quickly — this girl will be full-grown by the end of May.
Deanna Garcia 90.5 WESA

A 28-day-old Eurasian Eagle Owl made her public debut at the National Aviary Tuesday, joining the three already there.

“This Eurasian Eagle Owl is the first baby owl that has been born in any AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) accredited zoo in the last five years, so she is a very special Eurasian Eagle Owl,” said aviary veterinarian Pilar Fish.

The yet-to-be-named baby owl will be part of a unique program at the aviary in which the owls have multiple roles: education, breeding and being exhibited.

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Pittsburgh City Council
11:30 am
Tue April 9, 2013

Pittsburgh Council Bill Would Repeal Mayor's Special Expense Fund

Pittsburgh City Councilman Corey O'Connor introduced a bill Tuesday to repeal a 1995 law that set up a special "imprest fund" from which the mayor could withdraw up to $10,000 at a time for travel expenses.

O'Connor said he is not suggesting that Mayor Luke Ravenstahl or any other city leader used the fund illegitimately. Rather, he said his legislation simply requires the mayor to file for travel expenses via the same process used by all other city employees.

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Pennsylvania
9:35 am
Tue April 9, 2013

Former Robert Morris Player: Rice Used Gay Slur

A former Robert Morris player has told school officials former coach Mike Rice used a homophobic slur and threw a basketball at a player "once or twice" during his time at the university.

Rice was fired by Rutgers last week after video of the coach verbally and physically abusing players became public. A former Rutgers staff member alleged Rice engaged in several "coaches versus players" brawls while coaching the Colonials from 2007-10.

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Child Safety
9:26 am
Tue April 9, 2013

At County Admins' Meeting, Child Protection Bills Loom Large

As measures to strengthen child protection efforts gather steam in the state House and Senate, the head of the state's Department of Public Welfare is urging caution.

The General Assembly's immediate response to the Jerry Sandusky child abuse case was to create a task force to look into what's needed to make children in the commonwealth safer. More than four months later, proposals modeled on those suggestions are coming up for votes.

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Carnegie International 2013
9:19 am
Tue April 9, 2013

Carnegie International Artists List Unveiled Online Via Photos, Social Media

HQ10-SL5940S Stars at glance. Sarah Lucas, Stars at a glance, 2007. Concrete shoes, bra, footballs, and cigarettes
Credit Copyright Sarah Lucas; courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London

More than 100 years ago, Andrew Carnegie launched an art museum by charging the curator of the first Carnegie International to find the “old masters of tomorrow.” 

Last week the three curators of the 2013 Carnegie International released the names of 35 artists and groups of artists from 19 countries they think live up to that challenge.

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Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Mon April 8, 2013

Three Rivers Venture Fair: Financing Your Entreprenuerial Ideas

Rebecca Harris is Director of the Center for Women's Entrepreneurship at Chatham University
Credit Rebecca Harris / Chatham Center for Women's Entrepreneurship

When it comes to getting a business off the ground people go in search of angels or venture capitalists to help make their dreams a reality. But what's the difference? And how do you attract their attention to your project? Business contributor Rebecca Harris reports this week on the Three Rivers Venture Fair where prospective business owners could find possible financial backing. 

Find out more about Angel Investing and Venture Capitalism:

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Speaking Volumes
9:00 pm
Mon April 8, 2013

Speaking Volumes on Essential Pittsburgh: Katie Bates

Katie Bates is Speaking Volumes with Josh Raulerson
Credit Josh Raulerson/90.5 WESA

As a civil engineer, and as a reader of fiction, Katie Bates is interested in "why people act the way they do." She talks with 90.5 WESA Morning Edition host, Josh Raulerson about her reading choices, from Anne Applebaum to Tom Vanderbilt.

Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Mon April 8, 2013

Protection From Abuse: Recognizing Child Abuse and Reporting It

A 2012 meeting of the state task force for child protection. The panel was created by the PA General Assembly to review state laws and procedures governing child protection and the reporting of child abuse.
Credit State Child Protection Website

This audio is pending

Last summer, our content partner Public Source investigated allegations of sexual abuse against a former high school English teacher and coach, David Scott Zimmerman. The story brought up questions of how abusive behavior goes unreported in schools. Now, with a package of 16 bills on child abuse in the legislature and the results of a statewide task force on child protection, we take a look at the latest with the Zimmerman case and talk about ways to recognize the warning signs of potential sexual abuse. How do you teach your kids to speak up on questionable behaviors? And what questions should parents be asking before they let another adult spend time with their child? Joining us for the discussion, Public Source investigative reporter Bill Heltzel  and Dr. Rachel Berger, a Pediatrician at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh and member of the statewide task force on child abuse.

Marcellus Shale
4:38 pm
Mon April 8, 2013

State Website Shows Where Marcellus Shale Impact Money is Going

Credit Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission

A year after Pennsylvania enacted an impact fee on the Marcellus Shale industry, the Public Utility Commission (PUC) launched a new website that would allow the general public and local governments to see where the revenues are going.

Under Act 13, or the Unconventional Gas Well Impact Fee, signed into law by Gov. Tom Corbett in February 2012, certain Marcellus Shale drillers have to pay a fee to the PUC every year. 

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Education
3:44 pm
Mon April 8, 2013

As Students Undergo PSSA Testing, Some Parents Advocate Opting Out

It’s April, and for many school children in Pennsylvania, that means it’s time for tests.

The Pennsylvania Systems of School Assessment (PSSA) is an annual standards-based test. Students in grades 3 through 8 and grade 11 are assessed in reading and math. Grades 5, 8 and 11 are assessed in writing, and grades 4, 8 and 11 are assessed in science.

The tests have no bearing on students’ grades, and some parents are questioning the need for the PSSA.

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Shuman Juvenile Detention Center
3:42 pm
Mon April 8, 2013

Allegheny Co. Awaits Ruling on Shuman Center License After Responding to State Investigation

Allegheny County has reported to the state government on the reforms it has implemented at the Shuman Juvenile Detention Center following a Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW) investigation into the alleged physical abuse of a child inmate in January.

Now the county must wait at least a few days for the DPW to rule on the status of the Shuman Center's license as a juvenile detention facility.

The license could be downgraded to a provisional status or the inmates could even be transferred, according to DPW spokeswoman Donna Morgan.

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Medicaid Expansion
2:53 pm
Mon April 8, 2013

State DPW Head Sounds Optimistic Note on Possible Medicaid Expansion

The head of the state Department of Public Welfare is sounding an optimistic note about a possible Medicaid expansion in Pennsylvania.

Acting DPW secretary Bev Mackereth said she’s following up with federal officials about the topic of adding hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians to the government-run health insurance program.

She said federal officials have been forthcoming with information to the best of their ability.

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