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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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Government & Politics
2:48 am
Wed January 23, 2013

Exec. Fitzgerald Gives 'State of Allegheny County' Address

During his annual 'State of Allegheny County' address Tuesday, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald announced the first-ever enforcement of a 2007 law that requires the owners of tax-exempt properties to prove to the county that they are deserving of nonprofit status.

If even some of the county's 27,000 tax-exempt properties began paying up, that could mean a large new revenue stream for the county.

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Government & Politics
9:14 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

Cautious Praise for PA Lottery Deal Aired in Committee Hearing

Pennsylvania’s top Republican senators are asking Gov. Tom Corbett to make it clear that a privately-run Pennsylvania Lottery won't be able to compete with casinos through online gambling.  The request was made public on the same day a state House committee held a hearing on the deal to privatize the operations of the Lottery.

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Education & Learning
8:58 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

Details Of Bids For Old Pittsburgh Schenley Building Released

Faced with needed renovations ranging from 50 to 80 million dollars, the Pittsburgh Board of Education decided to close the Schenley High School building on Bigelow Boulevard in June 2008.  Schenley students and staff moved that fall to the former Reizenstein Middle School building and Schenley's final class graduated in June 2011.  

Nearly five years after the Schenley High School building was closed, there might soon be a buyer for that property in Oakland.

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Government & Politics
8:20 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

Rallies in Harrisburg to Focus on Both Sides of Gun Debate

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People from across Pennsylvania will gather in Harrisburg Wednesday, some to call for tougher gun laws in the state, some to voice support for how things currently stand. CeaseFirePA is holding its “Day of Action” to voice support of a five-point agenda to lawmakers:

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Health
6:05 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

Is the Flu Season In Pittsburgh Coming to an End?

This year's "flu season” has claimed a higher than average number of victims this winter, but some local doctors are finding the high volume of cases are already starting to drop.

Thomas Campbell, Assistant Chairman of Emergency Medicine for West Penn Allegheny Health System, said this year got started a little bit earlier than in the past several seasons and it was worse than normal, but he isn’t exactly sure why. He said while it will linger through the winter, he is optimistic an end to the spike is in sight.

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Economy & Business
5:34 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

Sewickley-based Esmark Sells Technologies Arm

After being purchased by some of its parent company's largest shareholders, Esmark Technologies will look into building a depot along the Ohio River to house shale equipment.

The Bouchard Group, run by Sewickley-based Esmark Inc. CEO and founder James Bouchard, and Stahlschmidt Incorporated, owned by Esmark’s third largest shareholder, announced the acquisition of the company on Monday.

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