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Government
5:00 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

Open Records Director Says State Workers Given Misinformation

Some 58-thousand state workers have been receiving training on a new telephone system and the head of the Office of Open Records says the employees are receiving wrong information regarding the commonwealth's Right to Know law.  

Office of Open Records Executive Director Terry Mutchler says trainers told state workers that they could avert public records requests by using instant messaging. Mutchler says since she and lawyers and staff in her office are state employees, they underwent the phone training and heard the "misinformation" themselves.

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Government
4:45 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

PA Mortgage Assistance Program is Revived

A successful mortgage assistance program in Pennsylvania that began nearly 30 years ago, but was zeroed out this fiscal year, is being revived. The Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (HEMAP) will receive funds from a $25 billion national mortgage settlement with five of the country's largest loan servicers. Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, JP Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo were found to routinely sign foreclose notices without make sure their documentation was correct.

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Transportation
8:45 pm
Thu August 9, 2012

PAT and Union Reach Contract Deal

The Port Authority (PAT) of Allegheny County and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85 have reached a tentative contract agreement that could be the first step in staving off massive service cuts. The agreement was announced Thursday by County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

In a written statement from the Executive’s office, Fitzgerald said the agreement will be considered by the Local 85 membership on August 19th and the Port Authority Board will take up the issue in the following days. No details of the plan are to be officially released until those votes are taken.

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Government
7:15 pm
Thu August 9, 2012

Downtown Preservation Project Underway

A ceremonial removal of storefront tiles marked the beginning of restoration work on four different blocks in downtown Pittsburgh. The plan is to integrate old buildings with the construction of new facilities for retail and residential use.

Arthur Zeigler, president of the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, said the $4 million Downtown Preservation Project will begin in earnest soon and be completed in 22 weeks.

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Arts
7:15 pm
Thu August 9, 2012

Indian Independence Celebrated at Cathedral of Learning this Weekend

The Indian Nationality Room Committee at the Cathedral of Learning’s Nationality Rooms will observe India’s 65th year of Independence on Sunday. The annual celebration includes a parade around the Cathedral along with speakers, dancers, food, and other things.

“It’s important for us, for our children, to know the struggle those leaders who fought for this independence," said Saroj Bahl, India Nationality Room Committee Chair. "You know, India was under British rule, for 200 years they ruled India and it was not easy.” 

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Environment
7:00 pm
Thu August 9, 2012

PA Third Worst State for Toxic Air Pollution from Power Plants, Down from Second

For the second year running Pennsylvania made the list—the Natural Resources Defense Council’s ranking of the “Toxic 20.” The report lists the states where the most toxic air pollution from coal- and oil-fired power plants is released.

The report analyzed the emissions of common power plant pollutants, such as mercury, hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, and ammonia, that were released during 2010, the most recent year data is available. The report is based on data from the Environmental Protection Agency and was first produced last year based on 2009 emissions.

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Local
6:45 pm
Thu August 9, 2012

Anti-Violence Group Comes To An End

Citing funding difficulties, an anti-violence community group has closed shop in Pittsburgh after eight years.

But One Vision One Life founder and executive director Richard Garland is not giving up because he believes the need for such an organization is greater than ever, “simply because of a transient population, some housing communities closing putting people together who aren’t usually together, don’t get along with one another’s neighborhoods; Pittsburgh Public Schools putting some kids together that normally are not together.”

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Health
8:45 pm
Wed August 8, 2012

RMU Professor Finds Way to Send Chemotherapy Drug Directly to Tumor

A Robert Morris University (RMU) professor has created a computer simulation that showed incredibly small particles, or nanoparticles, could be manipulated into carrying a chemotherapy drug directly to a cancerous tumor. Since current chemotherapy drugs have more of an indirect route, the drug kills healthy cells as well as the cancerous ones, causing severe side effects, and limiting the dosage that can be given to patients.

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Local
8:45 pm
Wed August 8, 2012

“ReuseFest” Will Collect Variety Of Items For Non-Profit Organizations

The Pennsylvania Resource Council is giving Pittsburghers a good reason to clean out their homes and donate unwanted items during “ReuseFest” this Saturday, August 11. A wide variety of materials for reuse will be collected and then distributed to non-profit organizations.

Sarah Alessio Shea, the council’s Environmental Education Coordinator, said the event will be a “one-stop-shop” while spotlighting some of the city’s reuse-centered groups.

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Government
8:30 pm
Wed August 8, 2012

DeWeese Fighting to Remain on November Ballot

The Pennsylvania Democratic Party is suing to remove former Greene County Representative Bill DeWeese from November’s general election ballot, arguing the convicted felon should be replaced with another Democrat because the candidate would be ineligible to serve if elected.

However, DeWeese’s lawyer said it would be premature to remove the former House Speaker from the election, because he’s pursuing appeals to his five felony convictions for using state workers and resources in a political campaign. State law prohibits convicted felons from holding public office.

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Local
8:30 pm
Wed August 8, 2012

Jury Finds in Favor of Police on One Count

A jury found that Jordan Miles was not subject to malicious prosecution the night of January 12, 2010, but the panel was “hopelessly deadlocked” on the other two counts, and a partial mistrial was declared.

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Local
12:00 pm
Wed August 8, 2012

Vulakovich Grabs 40th Senate Seat

Republican state Rep. Randy Vulakovich easily defeated Democrat Sharon Brown in a special election for the North Hills state Senate seat once held by Jane Orie. He will serve out the two years remaining on the term.

Vulakovich grabbed 12,065 votes to Brown's 4,704 with 169 write-in votes being cast. Independent Don Bindas was running a write-in campaign.

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Local
7:51 am
Wed August 8, 2012

Southwestern Pennsylvania Housing Market Shows Solid Growth

The housing market in southwestern Pennsylvania was more robust this July than it was one year prior.

A report from the West Penn Multi-List compared July 2011 with July 2012. This year, 21 percent more homes were sold and the average home sale price increased by nearly 12 percent in thirteen counties of southwestern Pennsylvania.

However, WPML President Ron Croushore said the number of houses put on the market for sale increased only slightly over last July.

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Local
8:15 pm
Tue August 7, 2012

Jury in Jordan Miles Civil Case Deadlocked

On the third full day of deliberations in Jordan Miles' civil suit against three Pittsburgh Police officers, the jury was ushered back into the courtroom. Judge Gary L. Lancaster addressed the group, which is having trouble reaching a unanimous decision.

Lancaster ordered the jury to go back into deliberations and said if they couldn't reach a unanimous decision the case would be left open and decided at another time. He added the trial and jury selection process wouldn't change.

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Local
7:45 pm
Tue August 7, 2012

Electronic Billboards to be Smaller, Dimmer, and Slower

Pittsburgh's e-billboards will be regulated on brightness, size, and advertising frequency, despite Lamar Advertising's legal efforts to halt a city ordinance. Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Judge Joseph James has upheld the ordinance, and a local activist group is pleased.

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Local
7:15 pm
Tue August 7, 2012

ICA Learns About Pension Woes and Solutions

One of two boards that oversee Pittsburgh's budget gathered input Tuesday on the city's pension obligations, and heard the common refrain that the real answer lies in pension reform at the state level.

City budget director Scott Kunka opened the discussion before the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (ICA) by noting that even if the city added all $10 million dollars expected from gaming revenues to its annual $60 million pension payment, it would only make a small blip in in the amount of money in the account 30 years from now.

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Local
7:00 pm
Tue August 7, 2012

Pittsburgh: A Good Place to Live As You Age

Pittsburgh has been ranked as the 10th best city for "Successful Aging" for seniors ages 65-79, according to the Milken Institute's analysis of 100 cities in the nation.

This is the first year the California-based non-profit ranked cities on a successful aging index based on 78 factors, but it has been rating cities on "Best Performance" for a decade.

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Local
3:45 pm
Tue August 7, 2012

Oscar-Winning Composer Marvin Hamlisch Dies at 68

Marvin Hamlisch, who composed or arranged the scores for dozens of movies including "The Sting" and the Broadway smash "A Chorus Line," has died in Los Angeles. He was 68.

Hamlisch collapsed and died Monday after a brief illness, his publicist Ken Sunshine said, citing the family. Other details were not released.

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Local
2:13 pm
Tue August 7, 2012

A Cracker Means Jobs, But Environmentalists Worry About Air Pollution

Pennsylvania's shale boom has drill rigs popping up all over rural parts of the state. Pipeline projects, truck traffic, and hotel construction have followed. Now, industry plans to build large-scale natural gas processing plants. Some question how those projects might impact air quality.

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Local
7:00 am
Tue August 7, 2012

New Program Would Provide Funding For Start-Up Companies in Pennsylvania

Start-up companies might have a new place to turn for seed money if a state lawmaker has his way.

State Senator John Blake (D-Lackawanna) has proposed the "Innovate in Pennsylvania Program," which he says would provide a predictable source of funding for early stage venture capital investment.

Blake wants to auction off future tax credits and then use that pool of money to invest in start-ups. The senator says $140 would be made available to start-up businesses through the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority.

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Local
8:53 pm
Mon August 6, 2012

Human Cases Of West Nile Virus Detected In Pennsylvania

The first report of human cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) in 2012 has been reported by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. The announcement comes as the Allegheny County Health Department steps up its mosquito spraying in several city neighborhoods.

A Franklin County woman was hospitalized with meningitis and is currently recovering and a woman from Lancaster County was diagnosed with West Nile Fever and is also recuperating. Both of their illnesses were directly related to WNV.

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Local
8:15 pm
Mon August 6, 2012

County Committee Recommends a New Jobs Office for People with Disabilities

For nearly two years the Allegheny 365 Committee has been working to create a completely accessible county in regard to services, facilities, and jobs. Its work has culminated in a report issued to County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. The main recommendation is that the county create an office of employment accessibility and inclusion. That office would, among other things, provide a single point of contact for those seeking employment, employers and the county.

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Local
8:00 pm
Mon August 6, 2012

Study to Examine Long-Term Health Effects of Hosting The Olympics

A professor at Millersville University in Lancaster is examining the public health effects of Olympic Games on host cities.

Dr. Jeffrey Wimer is traveling to past, present, and future Olympic sites to determine whether the residents of host cities see long-term benefits from the games. He said he hopes to publish a report within six months.

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Local
7:30 pm
Mon August 6, 2012

Monarchs to Visit Convention Center

The David L. Lawrence Convention Center is used to attracting a wide variety of visitors, but the facility is now preparing to welcome a special type of guest: Monarch butterflies.

Convention Center general manager Mark Leahy said the newly certified "Monarch waystation" on the roof of the building is equipped with all the plants necessary to feed the butterflies as they make their way south to Mexico or California.

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Local
6:15 pm
Mon August 6, 2012

Experienced Dreamers Contest Winner Receives “Key To The City" And Grant

With the Pittsburgh skyline in the background, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl presented a "key to the city" to Tess Lojacono to kick off her business career in the city. Lojacono was the winner of the "Experienced Dreamers" contest, which awarded one baby boomer-generation entrepreneur $100,000 to start their own business in the city.

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