News

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

 

Two of Pennsylvania’s leading environmental groups are forming a new strategic alliance in response to what they call an “unprecedented anti-environmental political climate at the federal and state levels.”

PennFuture and the Conservation Voters of PA will combine policy, advocacy, and legal resources to mobilize voters around environmental issues and hold lawmakers accountable.

Quinn Dombrowski / flickr

Allegheny Health Network hopes to fill a gap in coverage for new moms with an Intensive Outpatient Program. Clinical psychologist Rebecca Weinberg said treatment for mothers suffering from pregnancy-related depression often jumps between regular outpatient care and expensive in-patient care.

A new three-hour intensive outpatient program at Western Pennsylvania Hospital three days a week will offer intensive group therapy, medication management and allow women to bring their babies with them.

Suzette Plonsky / Franklin Regional High School

Next week, members of the Franklin Regional High School Panther marching band will head to Washington D.C. to perform at President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Two major prescription drug distributors have agreed to pay $36 million to settle a West Virginia lawsuit alleging they fueled West Virginia's opioid epidemic with excessively large shipments of painkillers into the state over several years.

State officials on Monday say Cardinal Health will pay $20 million and AmerisourceBergen will pay $16 million under the terms that have now been filed with Boone County Circuit Court.

The companies have denied any wrongdoing.

Judge William Thompson disclosed the proposed settlements two weeks ago with no details.

Keith Srakocic / AP File Photo

Pennsylvania needs significant infrastructure updates. President-elect Donald Trump has proposed $1 trillion worth of work to improve the country’s airports, bridges, and roads, all funded by private investors.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / NCTC Archives Museum

Rachel Carson would recognize the conflict between environmental regulation and corporate interests as it is manifesting in President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Gene Puskar / AP

When the Steelers take on the Miami Dolphins at Heinz Field on Sunday, it’ll be a familiar scene.

Sunday will mark just the fourth time the two teams have faced each other in the playoffs – 1972, 1979 and 1984. At each meeting, split 2-1 Miami, the victor went on to play in the Super Bowl.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

In December, Sala Udin was recognized by President Barack Obama with a presidential pardon.

The 73-year-old native of Pittsburgh's Hill District served seven months of a five-year prison sentence in 1972.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Unrest over the lack of development on the 28-acre site that once included the Civic Arena has found its way to Pittsburgh City Council.

Council members will vote this week on a bill requesting the involvement of the city solicitor. The bill was introduced by Councilman Daniel Lavelle who represents the neighborhoods closest to the site.

NASA

Humans have had a greater impact on the Earth than any other species in history.

“I mean, you can see it from space,” said Steve Tonsor, director of science and research at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. “If you see images from space at night, you see all the lights of human activities. That is really a sign of our consuming fossil fuels and turning them into light energy. If you see the images from space during the day, you see the vast acreages of land that humans have manipulated.”

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Volunteers who rescue trapped mineworkers will soon have access to technology developed in Pittsburgh using seismic vibrations as a means of communication.

It was one of the technological advancements the Mine Safety and Health Administration touted Thursday at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Research Laboratory in South Park. Mine safety executives were there to highlight developments made during the past eight years under the administration of Joe Main, assistant secretary for MSHA.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Like any former steel town in western Pennsylvania, Aliquippa has struggled since the industry collapsed in the 1980s. But in a town known for its football superstars, Mayor Dwan Walker, now in his second term, wants to prove that his city is ready and eager for revitalization. 

Matt Nemeth / WESA

  The Confluence – where the news comes together – is 90.5 WESA’s weekly news program.

Each week, reporters, editors and bloggers join veteran journalist and host Kevin Gavin for a behind-the-headlines look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region.

This week on The Confluence, panelists discuss affordable and accessible housing in Pittsburgh. We mark the launch of The Caucus, a new print newspaper taking an in-depth look at the state government in Harrisburg. And we talk to long-time Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Jack Kelly, whose final column appeared last Sunday.

Prototype PGH

Louise Larson, 28, of Garfield has recently gotten interested in wood turning, the process of using a lathe to make something out of a block of wood. She said during a recent visit to a wood working shop to purchase some of those blocks, called blanks, she was bothered by how the cashier treated her.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

At more than three hours, Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority officials said the informational meeting they held Wednesday in Lawrenceville was one of the longest yet.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

 

Snow advisories could spell trouble for commuters on both ends of Pennsylvania.

National Weather Service advisories for Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania predict 1 to 2 inches in and around Pittsburgh, with 3 to 5 inches forecast for counties east and south of the city. A similar advisory is projecting 1 to 3 inches in and around Philadelphia.

But it's the timing of the advisories that could cause trouble.

The western advisory runs from noon Thursday until 7 a.m. Friday with snow possibly snarling the Thursday evening rush hour.

Katie Meyer / WITF

 

Signaling that the 2017 Pennsylvania Farm Show is about to open, the event's annual butter sculpture has been revealed.

The sculpture unveiled Thursday is called "A Culture of Stewardship" and pays tribute to dairy farmers, who the artists say are stewards of the land, air, water and community.

About a half-ton of butter was used to create the piece, which shows a landscape of farms and undulating hillsides giving way to forest-covered peaks.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

The state House has passed a resolution that makes significant changes to its ethics rules.

Scott Petri, a Bucks County Republican and former chair of the Ethics Committee, said the updates have been in the works for the past two years and provide some very necessary clarification. 

He also said it’s conceivable the new rules could have prevented a recent debacle surrounding Democratic Representative Leslie Acosta.

She secretly pleaded guilty to embezzlement in March, kept her seat and then finally resigned on Tuesday after being reelected.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

 

Pittsburgh leaders hope the city continues to grow as a testing ground for Uber’s self-driving cars and other companies, aiming for the federally-recognized status of "automated vehicle proving ground." 

The U.S Department of Transportation put out a call for states to apply for the designation in November. 

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

 

The federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration wants to fine a contractor $11,224 for a construction fire that wholly or partially shut down a major Pittsburgh bridge for 24 days.

Contractor Joseph B. Fay Co. didn't immediately comment Wednesday. The company has 15 days to appeal.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has already said it wants Fay to forfeit more than $3 million of the $80 million the company is owed for the Liberty Bridge reconstruction project.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 FM WESA

When Pittsburgh’s public safety officials asked for volunteers to help staff the Presidential Inaugural Parade, more than 50 police officers raised their hands, according to acting Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert.

Matt Rourke / flickr

Former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane says her nine-count perjury and obstruction conviction should be overturned because of trial errors and overlapping charges.

Kane has been sentenced to 10 to 23 months in jail but remains free while she appeals the August conviction.

Her lawyer in a filing Tuesday challenges the use of a special prosecutor to investigate the leak of grand jury material. The jury found that Kane orchestrated the leak to embarrass a rival.

Katie Meyer / WITF

New members have officially been sworn into the Pennsylvania legislature.

The first day of the new session saw further entrenchment of Harrisburg’s partisan divide. Republicans shored up their majorities in the House and Senate, where they’ve often clashed with Democratic Governor Tom Wolf.

Now, lawmakers are turning their attention to legislative priorities in the new session.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

 

Pennsylvania's most northwestern county could be hit with 14 inches of lake-effect snow by Friday.

The National Weather Service expects 10 to 14 inches of snow to fall in Erie County between 5 p.m. Wednesday and 4 p.m. Friday. The county borders Lake Erie and southwestern New York.

The lake-effect snow advisory says the storm will also carry winds of 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 45 mph.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Though Republicans boosted their stronghold in the state legislature as they were sworn into office Tuesday, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf said he's used to working in a bi-partisan manner. 

Republicans now have a veto proof majority in the Senate, 34-16, and increased their margin to 39 seats in the House, 121-82.

Wolf said he doesn’t believe the stronger GOP grip on the legislature will affect his upcoming budget, nor has it forced him to adjust his priorities.

State Task Force Working To Change PA's Property Assessment Rules In 2017

Jan 4, 2017
Keystone Crossroads

 

Some counties in Pennsylvania go without updating their property values for decades, far longer than the six-year maximum wait recommended by the International Association of Assessing Officers.

Lawmakers Begin New Session With Old Leaders Again At Helm

Jan 3, 2017
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania lawmakers are back in session with leadership teams largely unchanged from the two-year session that concluded in November.

The oath of office was administered Tuesday for members in both chambers, including 22 new representatives and six freshmen senators.

Republicans are again in firm majority control of both chambers, 121 to 82 in the House and 34 to 16 in the Senate.

Republican Rep. Mike Turzai was re-elected House speaker, while Republican Sen. Joe Scarnati is again the Senate's president pro tempore.

Google Maps

UPDATE: This story was updated at 11:40am to clarify that the fire was due to an equipment failure at the well pad.

Rebecca and Jeffrey Ruffing and their six children live less than 600 feet from the Rice Energy natural gas well pad that caught fire Sunday afternoon.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 FM WESA

It's annoying when your computer or phone freezes while you are checking Facebook. The exact same glitch happening to military weapon systems software, or the code behind a self-driving car, goes from annoying to incredibly dangerous.

That's where Lawrenceville-based Edge Case Research comes in, by providing automated robustness testing.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Otis, a 10-foot-long, 450-pound North American alligator rested his head against the cool exterior of his well-heated indoor pen.

It’s where he vacations each winter when it’s too cold to stay outdoors at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. Otis summers in a pond inside Kids Kingdom and moving him to the reptile building just behind the elephant exhibit takes up to 12 people and some serious muscle, once they get him inside his crate.

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