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Property Assessments
4:11 pm
Fri March 22, 2013

Effort to Modernize Property Reassessment Process Waiting for Corbett’s Signature

A bill that would be the first step in standardizing property reassessments in Pennsylvania passed with unanimous support in both chambers and now awaits Gov. Tom Corbett’s signature.

“This is a step that really modernizes the way data is collected — the way contracts are given out, the way the state interacts with counties when the county decides that it is time to reassess,” said Rep. Brandon Neuman (D-North Strabane)

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Head Start
2:32 pm
Fri March 22, 2013

Protesters Voice Concern Over Looming Head Start Cuts

Protesters with One Pittsburgh rally outside the BNY Mellon building in downtown Pittsburgh Friday.
Credit Jared Adkins / 90.5 WESA

The March 1 sequestering of approximately $85 billion could hit national early education program Head Start as early as next week.

In response to the pending cuts, One Pittsburgh, an organization focused on getting big companies to pay their “fair share” of taxes, held a rally at the BNY Mellon building in downtown Pittsburgh Friday to protest the effect cuts will have in the Pittsburgh region.

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Pittsburgh Police
12:47 pm
Fri March 22, 2013

Ex-Pittsburgh Police Chief Harper Faces Conspiracy, Tax Evasion Charges

U.S. Attorney David Hickton outlines how authorities believe former Pittsburgh Police Chief Nate Harper diverted funds. Attorneys for Harper say he plans to plead guilty to the tax and conspiracy crimes he's been charged with.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

U.S. Attorney David Hickton announced a five-count indictment Friday against former Pittsburgh Police Chief Nate Harper. The charges range from conspiracy and theft of public funds to willful failure to file income tax returns.

It’s the result of a joint investigation with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI and the IRS. Hickton said the first count is conspiracy to engage in the theft of public money through the diversion of funds to the Pittsburgh Federal Credit Union.

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Environment & Energy
11:29 am
Fri March 22, 2013

Krancer Steps Down as Pennsylvania DEP Director

Gov. Tom Corbett has announced Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Mike Krancer is stepping down April 15. He plans to return home to Montgomery County to practice law.

Corbett appointed Krancer in 2011, and since then the DEP has had to oversee the booming Marcellus Shale industry.  

“Serving Governor Corbett and DEP has been the greatest honor of my career,” Krancer said. “I am grateful to the governor for giving me this role is assuring that natural gas and energy development happen in an environmentally sound and responsible manner.”

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Pennsylvania
11:25 am
Fri March 22, 2013

Punxsutawney Phil 'Indicted' Over Spring Forecast

CINCINNATI — Famed groundhog Punxsutawney Phil might want to go back into hibernation.

Authorities in still-frigid Ohio have issued an "indictment" of the furry rodent, who predicted an early spring when he didn't see his shadow after emerging from his western Pennsylvania lair on Feb. 2.

Mike Gmoser, the prosecutor in southwestern Ohio's Butler County, says Punxsutawney Phil "did purposely, and with prior calculation and design, cause the people to believe that spring would come early."

The penalty? Gmoser says — tongue firmly in cheek — is death.

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Transportation
11:08 am
Fri March 22, 2013

Weekend Squirrel Hill Tunnel Closure Canceled Due to Inclement Weather

A planned closure of the outbound (westbound) Squirrel Hill Tunnel this weekend has been canceled due to inclement weather, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

The tunnel will remain open in both directions this weekend, according to a news release from PennDOT. Single lane closures in each direction are expected to continue Friday evening into Saturday morning.

The closure had been planned as part of the second year of a four-year major rehabilitation of the Squirrel Hill Tunnel.

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Agriculture
9:29 am
Fri March 22, 2013

Bill Would Limit Whistleblower Activities on PA Farms

The Humane Society conducted an undercover investigation in 2012 at Kreider Farms in Manheim, Pa. Kreider cages about seven million egg-laying hens at its four Pennsylvania facilities.
Credit The Humane Society of the U.S.

Chickens crammed into wire cages next to the rotting carcasses of other chickens.  The floor of a barn coated with flies. Hens with their heads jammed between cages and feeding machines.

The Humane Society of the U.S. released a video last year depicting those conditions at what it said was Kreider Farms in Manheim, Pa., in Lancaster County.

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Liquor Privatization
6:41 am
Fri March 22, 2013

House's Liquor Plan Due for Lukewarm Reception in Senate

State House lawmakers have finally passed a liquor privatization proposal, building on more than two years of discussions and a concerted push from the governor’s office.

The measure was shepherded through the wilds of the 203-member House, where Republicans with a variety of reservations about increasing access to alcohol and hurting beer sellers had to be won over.

Now the measure is headed to the Senate, and once again there will be challenges.

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Liquor Privatization
6:29 am
Fri March 22, 2013

Liquor Privatization Passes State House

A plan to privatize the sale of wine and spirits and gradually phase out state stores passed the state House Thursday evening by a vote of 105 to 90.

Under the bill, grocery stores could sell wine, beer distributors could sell wine and liquor and other private entities could buy licenses to sell wine and liquor after the first year of implementation. The plan allows for the phasing out of state wine and spirits stores as private retailers obtain licenses.

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Medal of Honor Exhibit
3:30 am
Fri March 22, 2013

Soldiers and Sailors Unveils Medal of Honor Exhibit

If you’ve ever wondered what a Congressional Medal of Honor looks like but have never had a close up look, now’s your chance.

The Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum in Oakland opens an exhibit Sunday that displays its five Medals of Honor.

The Medal of Honor is the United States’ highest military award and is presented for "personal acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty."  Since the beginning of the Civil War there have been 3,460 Medal of Honor recipients.

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Health
3:30 am
Fri March 22, 2013

Downtown Stair Climbers to Raise Lung Health Awareness, Research Dollars

Many organizations say to accomplish their goals they take it one step at a time. The American Lung Association (ALA) means that literally.

This Saturday in downtown Pittsburgh 478 participants are expected to climb 897 steps to raise $120,000 for the ALA in the organization’s second annual "Fight For Air Climb."

The numbers don’t stop there.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:19 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

The Globetrotter Diaries

Michael Clinton is an author as well as President, Marketing Publishing Director for Hearst Magazines
Credit Hearst Corporation

  Michael Clinton is the president of marketing and publishing for Hearst magazines. The Pittsburgh native is a seasoned world traveler. He'll talk to our travel contributor Elaine Labalme about his latest book The Globetrotter Diaries: Tales, Tips and Tactics for Traveling the 7 Continents and how you can be a better traveler.

Amtrak
5:53 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

Deal Reached with Amtrak To Keep The Pennsylvanian Rolling

Amtrak service between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg might not be derailed after all.

The Corbett administration announced Thursday that an agreement has been reached with Amtrak on a new funding plan that will maintain rail passenger service between Pittsburgh, Harrisburg and Philadelphia.

Under the revised agreement with Amtrak, Pennsylvania will provide $3.8 million a year to maintain the service featuring one train a day in each direction between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. The through service continues to and from Philadelphia and New York City.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:33 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

The Future of the Catholic Church with Bishop Zubik

David Zubik has been the Pittsburgh Catholic Bishop since 2007.
Credit Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

The Catholic Church is in a state of change. With a new Pope comes a fresh perspective. So what is the potential future for the Roman Catholic Church? What's the future of the church in Pittsburgh? Bishop David Zubik of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh shares his perspective.

What questions do you have about the state of the Catholic Church and its future?

Pittsburgh Public Schools
5:09 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

Pittsburgh Public Schools Reappoints Superintendent Linda Lane For Three More Years

Linda Lane
Credit Pittsburgh Public Schools

Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Linda Lane has been awarded a three-year contract extension.  

Lane, who was appointed as superintendent in December 2010, will see her salary increase to $220,000 effective September.

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Pittsburgh
5:02 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

Man Killed in Pittsburgh Fire Set for Eviction

A man killed in a Pittsburgh apartment fire was set to be evicted and may have started the blaze by disconnecting the gas line to his stove.

Witnesses reported hearing an explosion before just after 7 a.m. in the nine-story, 170-unit Amberson apartment complex in the city's Shadyside section.

The Allegheny County medical examiner has identified the dead man as 60-year-old Mark A. Williams. An autopsy shows he died of external burns and from inhaling superheated air.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:30 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

The New Girl in Town on Traveling Alone

Travel contributor Elaine Labalme explains why "lonely can be sweet" when traveling
Credit Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

It's been said, "He travels fastest, who travels alone" as long as you know all of the good spots to visit.  This week our travel contributor Elaine Labalme discusses the joys of going solo when it comes to traveling.

Sports
2:38 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

March Madness Brackets: 'Fun, Harmless,' But Still Illegal In PA

If you win your basketball bracket pool at work, you might need that money to pay a fine — because it's illegal.

It might not be "madness," but a state lawmaker says it is "ridiculous" that filling out brackets for the NCAA basketball tournament in an office pool is still against the law in Pennsylvania.

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Agriculture
2:32 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

Group Pushes for Sustainable Agriculture in Southwest Pennsylvania

The PennEnvironment Research and Policy Center recently released a report on the economical and environmental benefits of sustainably produced, local agriculture. The organization also offered a blueprint of policies they hope state legislators will adopt and introduce in Pennsylvania.

The report, "Healthy Farms, Healthy Environment: State and Local Policies to Improve Pennsylvania’s Food System and Protect our Land and Water," highlighted programs, such as Vermont’s Farm to Plate Initiative, which pushed for developing sustainable agriculture methods.

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Fracking
1:40 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

Drilling Companies Agree to Settle Fracking Contamination Case for $750,000

Stephanie Hallowich with her children. The Hallowich's sued after they say drilling activity made their children sick. The drilling companies say there is no medical evidence to link the illness to gas drilling.
Credit Mark Schmerling / Courtesy of Protecting Our Waters

Range Resources, MarkWest Energy and Williams Gas agreed to settle a high profile contamination case in Washington County for $750,000, according to recently unsealed court records.  

An order to unseal the records was entered Wednesday in Washington County Court of Common Pleas by President Judge Debbie O’Dell-Seneca. Judge O’Dell-Seneca reversed an earlier decision to permanently keep the more than 900 pages of court records secret. In the order she stated that the drilling company’s claims of privacy rights had no merit.

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Pennsylvania
1:15 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

Suit: Pa. Child Molester Should Buy Victim's House

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) — The parents of a young Pennsylvania girl who was sexually molested by their neighbor have sued the man in a bid to force him to buy their house.

Sixty-five-year-old Oliver Beck pleaded guilty in September 2011 to indecent assault of a child under 13. After getting out of prison, he moved back to his home near Emmaus, about 55 miles north of Philadelphia.

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North Side
1:00 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

New Partnership Aims to Get More North Siders to Work

Northside Works! combines two workforce development entities. The NSLC facility, equipped with computer stations, will go from part-time to full-time.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The North Side Leadership Conference (NSLC) and North Shore Community Alliance (NCA) are combining to improve services for North Side residents seeking employment.

The two entities both previously offered workforce development services. NSLC has a location convenient to all bus lines on the North Side and existing computer stations.

“NCA has a more robust workforce program with many more services than what the Conference offers,” said NSLC Board Member Gloria Rayman. “So by combining our resources, we can offer so much more to all of our neighbors.”

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Liquor Privatization
6:42 am
Thu March 21, 2013

Liquor Privatization Plan Headed for Final Vote in House

A state House plan to privatize Pennsylvania’s wine and liquor system is on its way toward a final vote in the full chamber.

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Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Wed March 20, 2013

A March Madness Upset

RMU basketball coach, Andy Toole speaks to the press after a shocking win over the University of Kentucky.
Credit Helen Wigger / WESA

Tuesday night, in an unlikely National Invitational Tournament first round game, tiny Robert Morris University upset the defending NCAA champion, the Kentucky Wildcats. Robert Morris University Coach Andy Toole joins us to talk about the victory.

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