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Transportation
8:53 am
Mon November 12, 2012

Pittsburgh’s New “Connected” Way To Pay For Travel

Slowly but surely, the days of cash and cardboard card passes for Pittsburgh mass transit are becoming a thing of the past. Starting November 16, riders who buy December monthly passes at the Downtown service center will get “ConnectCards,” plastic cards that a rider will use in place of cardboard passes.

Port Authority spokesperson Jim Ritchie said the new payment system will be more convenient for than cash.

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Science & Technology
8:53 am
Mon November 12, 2012

"Spaceplace" Will Offer Look Into Life Of An Astronaut

The International Space Station is coming to the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh in the form of a new permanent exhibit.  The new “Spaceplace” will feature hands-on simulated experiments and a real-life replica of the International Space Station (ISS).

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Environment
8:53 am
Mon November 12, 2012

Too Many Tote Bags? Donate Them

If you are one of the many people who receives a tote bag every time you volunteer and find yourself with a house full of totes, it might be time to start donating some

Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh are teaming up with The Pittsburgh Tote Bag Project to collect totes, gym bags, and backpacks to be distributed to local food pantries.

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Government
8:53 am
Mon November 12, 2012

Special License Plates for Military Heroes

Nearly one million of the 12.7 million Pennsylvanians are military veterans and many of those have been decorated for valor or meritorious service.

In time for Veterans' Day, The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has unveiled seven new license plates that are available to decorated military personnel, active and retired.  "These are our heroes," said PennDOT spokeswoman Jan McKnight.

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Arts
8:53 am
Mon November 12, 2012

Speaking Volumes: Staycee Pearl

Staycee Pearl is a Pittsburgh-based choreographer who stages dance performances based on, or inspired by, works of literature. She offers a few favorite books and talks about their role in her work at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater.

Octavia Butler, Wild Seed

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Government
8:53 am
Mon November 12, 2012

What is Art? Asks the Mayor's Office

The public this week will have its first opportunity to give input on Pittsburgh’s efforts to build a comprehensive public art and design plan.  The first two of six public meetings on ARTPGH and DESIGNPGH will be held Tuesday night and a spokesperson for the city is encouraging everyone to attend.

“We’ll ask residents what is important to them,” said City Spokesperson Joanna Doven.  “What do they even think art is in the city of Pittsburgh… What do residents care about most?”

Doven said the goal is to get Pittsburghers to help shape the plan.

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Government
12:00 pm
Sun November 11, 2012

Altmire Returns More Than $1 Million In Unused Congressional Funds

U.S. Representative Jason Altmire (D-PA-4) is wrapping up his third and possibly last term in the House.  Altmire, who was defeated in the April Democratic primary in the redrawn 12th district by fellow incumbent Mark Critz, says over his six years in office he has returned more than $1 million in unspent office funds.

A pre-determined budget is given to each member of the House at the beginning of each term and is used to administer offices in Washington and their districts.  That's about $1.5 million a year in taxpayer funds to be used at the discretion of the members.

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Government
1:57 pm
Sat November 10, 2012

Corbett Considers Expanding Lottery

The administration of Gov. Tom Corbett said Friday that expanding Pennsylvania Lottery gambling to keno and online games will be one of the best ways to produce more revenue from the $3.5 billion lottery system that funds programs for the elderly.

The administration made the statement as part of an update on its talks with companies about privatizing the management of the lottery under a 20-year agreement. Asked about it Friday, Corbett would only say that the ideas are "on the table."

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Local
1:44 pm
Sat November 10, 2012

West Penn Can't Look Elsewhere

A judge says the Pittsburgh-based West Penn Allegheny Health System can't seek other potential buyers, in granting an injunction requested by Highmark Inc. which still hopes to complete a $475 million takeover of the hospital network.

West Penn executives contend Highmark's insistence that West Penn file for bankruptcy to reduce nearly $1 billion in debt is a deal breaker.

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Government
9:05 pm
Fri November 9, 2012

Patrick Fitzgerald Delivers Keynote at Law Enforcement Awards

The 15th Annual L.E.A.D. Awards for outstanding performance in law enforcement were given out Friday at the Pitt Law School.  Patrick Fitzgerald, former U.S. Attorney from Chicago, delivered the keynote address on the topic of how law enforcement has evolved in response to extremist terrorism.  

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Government
8:30 pm
Fri November 9, 2012

Corbett Signs Tougher Penalties on Underage Drinking

Teenagers partying in the South Side and Oakland will get hit with harder fines if cops find them with alcohol in their bloodstream.

Governor Tom Corbett signed into law legislation that increases fines for underage drinking and public drunkenness.

Senate Bill 941 sets the fee for both infractions to a maximum of $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for further offenses.  Currently the fine limit is $300 for first time violations and $500 for anything further.

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Government
7:52 pm
Fri November 9, 2012

Vets Day: Remembering to Remember

A long list of events celebrating Veterans Day will be strung out over the coming days giving western Pennsylvanians ample opportunity to celebrate the holiday.  However, for many, the nearly 100-year-old tradition of remembering those who have served has become little more than a few red letters on a calendar.

Those who will celebrate the day will do so in different ways.  Some will celebrate in a public fashion by watching a parade; others will do something more subdued and solitary, such as visiting the grave of a fallen soldier.

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Arts
5:04 pm
Fri November 9, 2012

Documentary on Former Braddock Hospital Highlights Larger Health Care Fight

Braddock Hospital had been in the community for more than 100 years when it closed in 2010. It had been bought by UPMC in 1996, but declining admissions and the resulting revenue loss took its toll. Braddock independent filmmaker Tony Buba was at the closing announcement and said he got consumed in the effort to save the hospital, during which he shot a lot of footage. He put together a film about the saga, but said it’s about much more.

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Government
11:21 am
Fri November 9, 2012

Mayor, City Council Members, Lawmakers Ask State to Release Pittsburgh from Act 47

At a public hearing on Thursday, Act 47 coordinators, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and others said the city is ready to be released from Act 47, the Financially Distressed Municipalities Act. Speakers recounted what landed the city its financial distress status in 2003. Back then, Pittsburgh was operating with a debt burden of more than 20% of its operating budget, pools and recreation centers had to close and hundreds of city employees, including police officers, were laid off.

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Government
10:02 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

Hill District Shop-N-Save Funding Finished

“We’re going back out there, that dirt that has been sitting dormant for so long is going to be active again.”

Cheryl Hall-Russell, the CEO and President of Hill House Association, announced the completion of the funding phase for the Centre Heldman Plaza—a retail center that will also house a Shop-N-Save grocery store: the first supermarket for the Hill District in almost 30 years.

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Government
9:19 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

Thomas Merton Center Honors Medea Benjamin

The Thomas Merton Center is honoring Code Pink and Global Exchange co-founder Medea Benjamin at its 40th Anniversary Celebration Thursday night. Benjamin created Code Pink after 9-11 and the war in Afghanistan. She said they chose the name based on the color-coded terrorism warning system created by the Bush Administration. Lately Benjamin has been leading a campaign to educate the public about the impact of unmanned drone strikes abroad.

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Government
9:11 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

Corbett Open to Another Sandusky Investigation

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett said Attorney General elect, Kathleen Kane, is welcome to make good on her promises to investigate the way the AG's office handledthe Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case under his leadership.

Kane said repeatedly on the campaign trail that she fully intends to open an investigation into why it took nearly three years to arrest Sandusky, and why the case was handled the way it was.  The Democrat also said if she found no evidence of foot-dragging, she’d move on.

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Government
8:43 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

Local Vets Graduate from Veterans’ Court

Eight military veterans from the Pittsburgh area graduated Thursday from the Allegheny County Veterans Court program which started on Veterans' Day in 2009.  The initaitve offers drug and alcohol treatment, mental health services and employment help to veterans who are facing criminal charges. Veterans who complete the program can have charges dropped or their criminal record erased.

Common Pleas Judge John Zottola, who supervises the court, said Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)  is common in returning vets. 

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Local
6:58 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

PA Execution Stopped by Appeals Court

A federal appeals court stopped the execution of a Pennsylvania inmate Thursday, hours before he was scheduled to be put to death for shooting to death a teenage hitchhiker nearly two decades ago.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case of Hubert Lester Michael Jr. back to a district court judge for additional proceedings.

Michael had faced a 7 p.m. execution by lethal injection for the 1993 killing of Trista Elizabeth Eng in York County.

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Environment
6:50 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

New Air Toxics Guidelines Approved by Allegheny County Board of Health

The new guidelines have been years in the making, and their approval delayed time and time again. On Wednesday the Allegheny County Board of Health finally voted to adopt them.

“Probably the most important piece of it is that it updates the guidelines that have been used in the past. When the current guidelines, the one they’re using now, were written the space shuttle program was brand new, Ben Roethlisberger was just out of kindergarten,” said Tom Hoffman, western PA Director for Clean Water Action and member of the task force that drafted the new regulations.

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Government
5:54 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

$15 Million Penalty Agreement Reached in Le-Nature’s Case

A Wisconsin bottling equipment firm will pay a $15 million penalty to avoid prosecution and has agreed to pay $110 million more to settle legal claims for its alleged role in a massive accounting fraud involving defunct western Pennsylvania soft-drink maker, Le-Nature's.

Franklin, Wis.-based Krones Inc. says it cut the deal to avoid the "continued uncertainty and risk" involved in the legal proceedings, but denies any role in the fraud.

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Government
5:36 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

Local Group Maps Election Results in Allegheny County

Combing through a long list of confusing ward and precinct numbers followed by a slew of vote totals is enough to make most of us go cross-eyed, but if you want to know how individual neighborhoods voted that is often the only way to learn. However, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have done the number crunching for Allegheny County this year and have laid it all on an interactive map.

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Education
12:53 am
Thu November 8, 2012

Hazelwood “Y” Gets New Executive Director

The elections are over, and politicians both new and old have positions. But politicians weren’t the only ones getting new job titles Wednesday morning.

On Wednesday, the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh announced Leah Hardaway would be the new executive director of the Hazelwood Y.

Hardaway began as the interim executive director on September 1, 2012, but Wednesday marked the begining of a more permanent role.

Hardaway said one of her biggest priorities so far has been learning about the community.

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Government
12:45 am
Thu November 8, 2012

Pittsburgh Officials Discuss Merits, Drawbacks of TIF Subsidies

Pittsburgh City Council's general discussion of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts on Wednesday was ostensibly not meant to focus on a single proposed TIF district, but city officials did end up sparring over the $50 million proposed subsidy for a Lower Strip District development by the Buncher Company.

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Government
9:06 pm
Wed November 7, 2012

Mike Doyle: We're Ready to Deal... If They Are

Congressman Mike Doyle (D-PA 14) is looking forward to getting back to work in Washington but he does not think there will be any lasting solution to the so-called fiscal cliff before the end of the year.  Doyle made his comments on Essential Pittsburgh the day after he easily won reelection to a 10th term in office.

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