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The United Steelworkers will no longer represent workers of a local cleaning company that are assigned to the Ellis School.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

Four applications to revitalize neighborhoods and foster social and economic diversity passed initial scrutiny by the Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority on Thursday.

The URA is asking for a combined $1.5 million in state Keystone Communities Program funding to fill gaps in local resources. State decision makers will choose which, if any, projects they want to fund.

If approved, the money would be split four ways.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

A cancer patient says a Southwest Airlines employee went above and beyond to help track down her missing luggage that contained important medication.

Stacy Hurt says she called customer service July 23 at Pittsburgh International Airport after her luggage failed to arrive on a flight from Nashville.

She was panicking because the bag contained medication that helps her with the side effects of chemo for her colon cancer. It also had sentimental items like a rosary and a lucky T-shirt. She was worried it wouldn't arrive in time for her chemotherapy appointment the next day.

Kathleen J. Davis

Construction began Friday morning on Braddock Civic Plaza, a community space to be located on the former site of UPMC Braddock Hospital, which closed in 2010.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The Auditor General’s office has released a report detailing how Pennsylvania’s pension system for state employees can cut costs.

The system, known as SERS, is grappling with roughly $20 billion in unfunded liabilities, and has been making concerted efforts to streamline spending.

Since 2007, the fund has reduced the fees it pays to investment managers by more than half.

But in his report, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said there’s room to cut even more of those expenses, noting he doesn’t think SERS’s returns justify its expenditures.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The state House has no official plans to resume negotiations on balancing the state budget.

In a rare update, House Majority Leader Dave Reed said while members continue to discuss a proposal passed by the Senate last month, they’re not ready to introduce a counter-offer of their own.

Key components of the Senate plan include a severance tax on Marcellus Shale drilling, sales tax expansions, and consumer taxes on natural gas, electricity, and phone service.

Reed said the consumer gas tax—known as a gross receipts tax—is particularly hard to swallow.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

The journey for refugees from their home countries to Pittsburgh often takes years and includes lots of stops along the way. As part of WESA’s five-part series sharing the stories of young refugees, native Iraqi Maryam Nader, 15, talks about her desire to continue her travels and experience other cultures.

Nader is from Iraq, but she’s Kurdish, not Arabic.

“I don’t think anybody knows what are Kurdish,” said Nader. “They just assume they’re the same thing as Turkish, but they’re not. Kurdish have a different language and kind of a different culture.”

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Ruling Helps School Districts Limit Charter Expansion

Aug 10, 2017
Jessica Kourkounis / Keystone Crossroads

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court delivered a ruling this week that gives traditional public school districts more power to limit charter school growth.

Gas Severance Tax Won't Have Big Impact On Pennsylvania, Says Research Group

Aug 10, 2017
Tim Lambert / WITF

A natural gas severance tax has been a hot-button issue in Harrisburg for nearly a decade, but the plan recently approved by the state Senate is unlikely to have a major impact–  either in terms of government revenue, or drilling company investment decisions, according to research from the nonpartisan environmental economic think tank, Resources for the Future.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

For the first time since Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro took office in January, his office has filed charges of drug delivery resulting in death against an Allegheny County resident.

Pressley Gedman, Bike Parking Intern / Bike Pittsburgh

Bicyclists in the East End who want to transfer to a bus now have a new place to safely store their bikes.

Cyclists can park their rides at the East Liberty Transportation Center on Penn Avenue.

Dan Yablonsky, development manager for Bike Pittsburgh, said residents can use it like a Park and Ride for bikes, rather than cars.

"If you're from Highland Park, Morningside or Larimer, you can store your bike for the day, head downtown and then return at the end of the day, grab your bike and head home," he said.

Learning About Pollution Can Be Fun ... When You Get To Pick A Giant Nose

Aug 10, 2017
Rachel Filippini

Our region’s dirty air is a big problem. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun with it, right?

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

In the midst of construction on the new Pittsburgh Playhouse downtown, Point Park University discovered a 114-year-old, hidden stained glass ceiling. But it wasn’t in great shape. A small, South Hills company has been working over the last year, restoring the large, colorful panels.

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A state police forensics unit has searched the former home of a Pennsylvania woman who's been missing since 1989.

Sunbury police Chief Tim Miller announced in June that the investigation had been reopened when crews were seen removing concrete from a home in Milton.

On Wednesday night, the state police accompanied Sunbury police to a home in that town where Barbara Miller once lived.

Miller was 30 when she attended a wedding in Milton in June 1989 and was never seen again.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

A Pittsburgh housing startup called Module is working on its first residential property, to be located in the North Side. 

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Johnstown City Council was supposed to vote Wednesday to adopt an amended recovery plan in order to stay in Act 47, Pennsylvania’s assistance program for financially distressed communities. The vote was tabled.

This month marks Johnstown’s 25th year in the program; the city wouldn’t be able to cover its expenses without the tools the program provides, such as being able to restructure debt and collect a higher local services tax. So why the hold-up?

Hearing To Resume In Deadly Fall At Penn State Fraternity

Aug 10, 2017
Bebeto Matthews / AP

Members of a shuttered Penn State fraternity accused of crimes related to the death of a pledge earlier this year are due in a Pennsylvania courtroom for what will be the fourth day of a hearing to determine if there's enough evidence to send the case to county court for trial.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Eighteen members of a SWAT team are OK after they were exposed to a deadly chemical during a raid early Wednesday, Pittsburgh police said.

As the SWAT team entered the West End home, a table covered with powered drugs was overturned, sending what authorities believed to be a dangerous synthetic opioid called fentanyl wafting into the air, according to a criminal complaint.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Young refugees have to adapt quickly once they arrive in Pittsburgh. Although they often come from difficult circumstances, many are able to learn English and make friends quickly. As part of a five-part series from WESA, four young people from Iraq, Tanzania and Congo share their stories of transition.

Hussein Zangana, 15, now lives in Brookline. He said it’s very different from Iraq, where fighting forced his family to flee. “Something is wrong,” he said.

Carlisle Historical Society

A team of Army officials and anthropologists is working in Cumberland County to exhume the remains of three Native American boys from the Northern Arapaho Native American Tribe.

Cabot Oil Files $5M Suit Against PA Resident, Lawyers

Aug 9, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP, file

A gas driller that was targeted with allegations that it polluted residential water wells in Pennsylvania has filed a $5 million lawsuit against a Pennsylvania resident and his lawyers, asserting they tried to extort the company through a frivolous lawsuit.

Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. said Dimock resident Ray Kemble and his lawyers sought to harass and extort the Houston-based driller, attract media attention and "poison" the community by recycling "stale, settled claims" against the company.

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Pittsburgh police say they've taken two juveniles into custody for throwing rocks onto vehicles from an overpass above Route 65.

Several vehicles called 911 to report their cars being hit with rocks or other items about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday.

One motorist says cars were forced to slow down because of a broom left in one lane of travel. It's not immediately clear if the youths who threw the rocks also threw the broom or placed it there so cars would slow down and become easier targets.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

A group of state lawmakers are introducing a bill they say would give students in Pennsylvania’s lowest-performing schools more options for their education.

The plan would create school savings accounts, which would allow parents to take control of the money that would be spent on their kids in the public school system, and enable them to use it for alternative education options.

Republican Senator John DiSanto of Dauphin County described the savings accounts as being about giving kids and their parents more agency.

Heather Ainsworth / AP

As lawmakers try to negotiate a budget that’ll pass the House, Senate, and Governor, plus fill a $2 billion funding gap, they’re also grappling with another issue.

Nearly a year ago, the State Supreme Court declared that a law governing how casinos pay fees to their host municipalities was unconstitutional, and gave lawmakers an ultimatum: fix the law, or it’ll be invalidated.

Today, it’s still not fixed. And that’s losing some towns money.

Mark Lennihan / AP

Terry Collins will tell you BPA is a scary compound. It's a chemical that's used to manufacture plastics, and more than 6 billion pounds of it are produced every year.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Some young refugees in Pittsburgh resettled in the city when they were infants and have lived here most of their lives. Others arrived earlier this year. 

Bill Gardner / 90.5 WESA

With his hands raised above his head and wrapped around a small, hatchet-sized wooden ax, Corey Deasy flicked his wrists to send it hurling toward a target about 14 feet away.

It hit square in the middle – not a surprise since Deasy’s the owner of Lumberjaxes, a new ax-throwing facility in Millvale which is scheduled to open next week. Think darts, with larger, sharper objects.  

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Every year in the U.S., 200,000 people get pacemakers, 600,000 get knee replacements and 2.5 million have surgery to implant artificial eye lenses to fix cataracts. But the medical community knows little about how the aging process affects these implantable medical devices.

Bryan Brown wants to change that.

He’s a professor of bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh, and he’s trying to figure out how to harness the immune system’s natural inflammatory response to better integrate these devices into the body.

Jim Fetzner / Carnegie Museum of Natural History

A researcher at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History has helped discover three new kinds of crayfish in Kentucky's Appalachian region. Jim Fetzner and his team said these newly classified lobster-like crustaceans could help us understand how crayfish evolve.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

After years of negotiations, road and utility work, and site preparation, redevelopment could begin on the 178-acre Almono site as early as next week.

On Monday, Gov. Tom Wolf toured the Almono site, which sits along the Monongahela River and is Pittsburgh's largest remaining brownfield. The tour's highlight was the old Mill 19 building, which extends for nearly one-third of a mile—a vast building on a vast piece of land. Just outside the building is the newly finished Signature Boulevard, a complete street with room for cars, cyclists, and pedestrians. 

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