News

It's Not Just Lake Erie. The Ohio River Has A Major Algae Problem, Too.

Nov 18, 2016
Jeff Reutter/ Ohio Sea Grant / Flickr

Ethan Wells has lived along the Ohio River for almost all of his 32 years. One day last August near his home in Sistersville, an hour south of Wheeling, West Virginia, he noticed blue-green algae growing along the riverbank. And each time he looked, there was more of it.

“I grew up on a farm around ponds and on the river so I knew what it was,” Wells says. “It started to cover the river—like a neon slime across the top. And it was kind of eerie in a way to have the river alive like that.”

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Richard Spear has breakfast in the Mercy Hospital cafeteria five days a week. He eats there before heading up to the eighth floor to visit with oncology patients.

“I go in and introduce myself to the patients,” he said. “And a lot of times they spill their heart out to me. Unfortunately for me, I get close to a lot of these people and sometimes it makes it very difficult.”

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Despite the projected temperatures in the 70s Friday evening, city officials say Pittsburgh’s 56th annual Light Up Night will still feel like a “winter wonderland.”

Brian Siewiorek / 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. They’ll go behind the headlines taking an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region. 

This week we'll look at some of the environmental issues impacting the region including the detection of methane leaks under the streets. Also, municipal leaders from across the country are in Pittsburgh for the National League of Cities conference. Our guests will fill us in on the topics the conference is addressing. We'll also discuss U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania David Hickton's tenure now that he has announced his resignation.  

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

A group of 10 local sixth graders helped two Allegheny Health Network doctors perform surgery in the lobby of Fifth Avenue Place downtown Thursday – sort of.

They were actually playing a life-sized game of “Operation,” the iconic board game where players tried to remove little plastic bones from Cavity Sam. (As a reminder: If you touched your tweezers to the metal openings, you lit up his red nose and lost your turn.)

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

 

Theresa Cygrymus looked around the hall at Prince of Peace Parish, a Catholic Church on Pittsburgh’s South Side, and shook her head.

“It’s already nine o’clock, usually we have stuff cooking already," she said. 

Cygrymus knows the drill. At 78, she’s been volunteering for the church all her life. On a Saturday in late October, Cygrymus and a church group called The Christian Mothers were preparing to churn out hundreds of dozens of pierogis to sell. All the money they make supports the church and its outreach.

Tracking Diesel Pollution In Downtown Pittsburgh

Nov 17, 2016
wildcellist / Flickr

 

Trucks, buses and even river barges can create lots of diesel pollution. But a new study finds that just how much of that pollution you might be exposed to depends a lot on where you are and the time of day.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

A report released by the University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics is calling for judges in Allegheny County to rely less on bail to keep tabs on suspects awaiting trial on non-violent charges.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

 

Municipal officials from around the country grappled with changes in transportation, such as self-driving cars and rail safety, while meeting in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

This week, Pittsburgh is hosting 3,000 mayors and council members from around the country, as well as local leaders, for the National League of Cities' annual City Summit. They’ll meet through Saturday to discuss the challenges currently facing cities and share best practices for energy efficiency, working with startups and increasing transparency.

Patrick Semansky / AP

 

On Election Day, many Pennsylvania voters from both sides of the aisle watched in surprise, and in some cases, shock, as Donald Trump won the commonwealth and was elected the next president of the United States.

They weren't the only ones. Lots of political analysts in the state were also taken aback.

Most major polls never showed Trump winning Pennsylvania, let alone the election. The state was thought to be part of opponent Hillary Clinton's so-called "blue wall."

So what went wrong?

Jared Wickerham / AP

 

The wife of a police officer slain the line of duty says he was "the best friend anyone could ever ask for," was adored by their four children and was always chasing "bigger dreams."

Yoshimitsu Kurooka / flickr

A western Pennsylvania school district has averted a teachers' strike after an overnight bargaining session resulted in a tentative contract.

Teacher in the Greensburg-Salem School District has planned to strike Wednesday morning, halting classes for nearly 3,000 students in this district 30 miles east of Pittsburgh.

Kara Holsopple / 90.5 WESA

 

For six months in 2015, Google Street View mapping cars drove 320 miles through Pittsburgh neighborhoods. They weren’t mapping streets, but instead searched for methane leaks.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Beverly Thornton cuddles babies on Wednesdays.

When she walks into the neonatal intensive care unit at Magee Women’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, she said she can often already hear a baby crying.

Paul Guggenheimer / 90.5 WESA

The results of last week’s election left many political leaders stunned and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald was no exception. Not only was Fitzgerald disappointed to see Hillary Clinton lose after strongly supporting her campaign, he was surprised to see Pennsylvania go into the win column for a Republican for the first time since 1988.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak urged her colleagues to adopt gender equality legislation accepted by most United Nations countries decades ago at a post-agenda meeting and public hearing on Tuesday.

The international Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, or CEDAW, was adopted in 1979 by the United Nations General Assembly; the United State is one of six nations that has still not signed on to the treaty.

Geoffrey Franklin / flickr

Big changes are coming to beer sales in Pennsylvania.

Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation Tuesday that will allow the state's more than 1,000 beer distributors to sell suds in any quantity. That includes individual 32-ounce bottles, four-packs, six-packs and growlers.

The law takes effect in 60 days.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

About 50 advocates for local activist and Mexican immigrant Martín Esquivel-Hernandez held a rally in downtown Pittsburgh Tuesday morning, calling on Immigration and Customs Enforcement to stop deportation proceedings against him.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Nursing home residents who need extra care or specialized help after business hours are often sent to the emergency room. But as those visits can be expensive, disruptive and sometimes avoidable, a South Side company is offering another solution.

Curavi Health, which spun out of UPMC, created a mobile unit called CuraviCart that uses a video conference system, on-call doctors and other instruments a nursing home might need to help residents.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

 

*UPDATED: Nov. 28 at 12:25 p.m.

This summer, Pittsburghers wanting to fly to Europe can do so for as little as $99.

Bargain airlines Condor and WOW will offer low-cost, non-stop flights to Frankfurt, Germany and Reykjavik, Iceland, respectively. Condor will offer service twice per week throughout the summer, while WOW’s service will run four times per week, year-round.

WOW will offer some one-way tickets to Iceland for as low as $99, and travelers can continue to other European cities like Paris, Dublin, Berlin and London for $150. 

Pine-Richland School District Asks Judge To Dismiss Bathroom Policy Suit

Nov 15, 2016
Toby Talbot / AP

 

A western Pennsylvania school district wants a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit by three transgender students challenging a rule requiring students to use either unisex restrooms or those corresponding to their biological sex.

The Pine-Richland High School students, two who now identify as female and one who identifies as male, sued in October.

They contend the district let students use restrooms based on their gender identities until the school board changed the practice in September until it can adopt a formal policy.

Niven Sabherwal / 90.5 WESA

Nearly one-quarter of Pittsburghers live without internet access in their home. Without the web, many families are cut off from job opportunities or educational advancement. 

Lorin May / Flickr

Nearly two months after initially going on strike, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has cancelled events into next month.

In a blog post, the PSO announced Monday that more shows have been cancelled through Dec. 5The strike started Sept. 30.

PSO officials said they are “hopeful to reach an agreement soon.”

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto presented his proposed 2017 budget to City Council on Monday. The $539 million plan includes income from Rivers Casino.

Keith Srakocic / AP

U.S. Attorney David Hickton gave no reason for his surprise resignation serving the Western District of Pennsylvania on Monday.

His office said his last day will be Nov. 28.

Why Trump Probably Can't Bring Back Coal (Or Kill Renewables, Either)

Nov 14, 2016
Steve Helber / AP

Donald Trump's shocking victory in the 2016 presidential election will have reverberations on many aspects of American life. But many say one of the most serious is what it will mean for energy and environmental issues.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

 

The first of two days of funeral home visitation are set to begin for a western Pennsylvania police officer slain in the line of duty.

The visitation for Canonsburg Officer Scott Bashioum is from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday and Tuesday at the Beinhauer Funeral Home in Peters Township. His funeral is Wednesday at noon at the Church of the Covenant in Washington, Pennsylvania.

Marcus Charleston / WESA

Giordan Dixon, 16, stuck to his script at the new Homewood – Brushton YMCA on Bennett Street in Homewood South.

“I want to be a singer and a music producer,” he said, guiding small tours.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

 Last week, about 20 people waited anxiously for the walk signal at the busy intersection outside Target in East Liberty. When the light changed, they danced into the crosswalk. As James Brown sang “Get on the Good Foot,” they spun, they shimmied, they high-fived.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh are using light to see inside the brains of subjects in ways traditional static imaging scanners cannot.

Functional near infrared spectroscopy, or NIRS, is portable and can measure brain activity while subjects are moving around. It can also be used in remote situations when people can’t get to an MRI scanner, which requires patients lie down and remain very still to get a usable image.

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