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9:05 pm
Mon September 10, 2012

Allegheny County Suspends Celebration Of Lights At Hartwood Acres

Christmas will still come, but the Celebration of Lights at Hartwood Acres Park has been suspended indefinitely due to an increase in costs and a decline in sponsorships. The decision came as a result of the county’s limited financial resources after taxpayers had to cover most of the $1.5 million cost last year.

Amie Downs, Director of Communications for Allegheny County, said there is a chance the show could go on, but only if sponsors “come out of the woodwork” over the next few months.

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Government
6:38 pm
Mon September 10, 2012

Current, Former DEP Secretaries Joust over National Energy Policy

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Michael Krancer argued in favor of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's energy policy at an energy summit in Pittsburgh on Monday, while former DEP chief John Hanger touted the Obama administration's energy platform.

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Government
5:25 pm
Mon September 10, 2012

PA Pension Panel Floats Idea of Controversial Bond

http://2cccd5dfe1965e26adf6-26c50ce30a6867b5a67335a93e186605.r53.cf1.rackcdn.com/pension debt wilson.MP3

If you owed 40 billion dollars on a constitutionally protected contract, you might appear to be grasping at straws, too.  That’s what it sounded like to some in attendance as the chairman of the Pennsylvania Public Employee Retirement Commission, Anthony Salomone, brought up the pension obligation bond. 

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Health
5:19 pm
Mon September 10, 2012

Peters Doctor to Pay Insurers $.7 Million over Prescriptions

A Pittsburgh-area physician has agreed to repay two insurance companies $700,000 for covering powerful narcotic painkillers that he pleaded guilty to overprescribing to dozens of patients.

McMurray physician Oliver Herndon pleaded guilty in May and is will be sentenced Sept. 24. As part of his plea agreement, he's expected to serve 11 years and three months in federal prison, though a federal judge has yet to formally approve the deal.

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Government
7:35 am
Mon September 10, 2012

PEMA Pleased With Response To Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee

One year after flooding from Hurricane Irene and the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) says clean-up efforts in the commonwealth aren’t done yet.
Cory Angell, a spokesman for PEMA,  says more than $1.7 million have gone toward repairing public property damaged by last year’s storms.

“Currently our numbers reflect that there are 40 public assistance projects.  Now that’s the infrastructure," said Angell.  "That would be your roads and your bridges or municipal buildings, things like that.” 

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Local
7:35 am
Mon September 10, 2012

CMU Partners With U.S. Military Academy To Tackle Amputation Complications

A research team led by Carnegie Mellon University is developing new techniques to prevent heterotopic ossification in soft tissue, a potential side-effect from orthopedic surgeries and amputations.

Heterotopic ossification, or H-O, is a condition where bone tissue grows outside of the skeleton. Dr. Jeffrey Hollinger, head of CMU’s Bone Tissue Engineering Center, says this unusual side-effect is a common occurrence in service members who lose a limb.

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Environment
7:35 am
Mon September 10, 2012

September is Local Food Month in Southwestern Pennsylvania

In an effort to boost the profile of local farmers and ranchers, September is being celebrated as local food month in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Throughout the month, activities, contests, restaurant offerings, and more will highlight food that’s grown or raised in the region.

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Government
7:35 am
Mon September 10, 2012

Potential Changes For Property Taxes Statewide

One state House member sees an opening for his proposal to switch local governments reliance from property taxes to levies on purchases and income.

Representative Seth Grove (R-York)  is calling for giving local governments the power to choose to freeze property taxes in favor of a levy on income taxes.

He says his legislation would give voters the option of allowing their counties to levy a one percent sales tax that would gradually wean its local governments off of property taxes. 

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Arts
7:35 am
Mon September 10, 2012

Speaking Volumes: Tom Sweterlitsch

http://2cccd5dfe1965e26adf6-26c50ce30a6867b5a67335a93e186605.r53.cf1.rackcdn.com/10111_SPEAKING VOLUMES_Tom Sweterlitsch.mp3

Pittsburgh writer and librarian Tom Sweterlitsch has wide-ranging reading interests in fiction. Lately he's been reading:

 

Stewart O'Nan, Songs for the Missing

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Science & Technology
7:35 am
Mon September 10, 2012

CEA Selects Pittsburgh To Host Energy And Manufacturing Summit

Prominent government, business, and labor leaders gather in Pittsburgh today to discuss the importance of investing in the energy and manufacturing industries as part of the Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) 2012 Pennsylvania Energy and Manufacturing Summit.

Mike Mikus, Executive Director of the CEA Mid-Atlantic region, said this meeting will be similar to the Colorado and Gulf Coast Energy Summits, which were held in February and March.

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Government
10:35 am
Sun September 9, 2012

Pennsylvania State House Democrat Continues To Push Cell Phone Ban

A state House Democrat is following up the texting-while-driving ban with a proposal to outlaw all hand-held cell phone use behind the wheel.  Representative Joe Markosek (D-Allegheny) acknowledged his plan is unlikely to come up for a vote, but said it should be a priority.  The House returns to session September 24, but there are only eight scheduled voting days remaining in this session.

The 15-term legislator faces a Republican challenger in the November election, but Markosek says his interest in tightening the distracted driving laws isn’t occasioned by the campaign season.

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Science & Technology
10:35 am
Sat September 8, 2012

Drake Oil Museum Get Facelift

In 1859, the country's first commercial oil well was drilled by Colonel Edwin Drake, near Titusville, north of Pittsburgh. Soon the country's first oil rush ensued. More than 150 years later, Pennsylvania has another kind of drilling boom at hand, this time for natural gas. And in the middle of this boom, one museum unveiled a new exhibit that wants us to take a good look back. The Allegheny Front's Reid Frazier went to Titusville for an up-close look at the Drake Well Museum, which tries to connect our energy past to our energy present and future.

Government
6:46 pm
Fri September 7, 2012

Local Congressmen React To The August Jobs Report

The nation's unemployment rate for August was 8.1%, down from 8.3% in July. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that employers added 96,000 jobs last month, but that's down from an average of 139,000 per month since the beginning of the year.  According to the Labor Department, the jobless rate declined in part because many people gave up looking for jobs, reducing the size of the labor force.

Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA-18)  called the jobs report "dismal" and "nothing short of a national disgrace."

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Education
5:58 pm
Fri September 7, 2012

Concussion Rules Take Effect with New School Year

A law intended to reduce head injuries among student athletes in Pennsylvania is now being fully implemented as the fall sports seasons are underway.  In preparation for the start of the new athletic seasons, Pennsylvania’'s coaches had to take a class this summer on recognizing concussions.

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Government
5:55 pm
Fri September 7, 2012

Allegheny County's Credit Score

http://2cccd5dfe1965e26adf6-26c50ce30a6867b5a67335a93e186605.r53.cf1.rackcdn.com/Bond Rating Wrap_Emily Farah_SOC.mp3

An A+ might be the highest score possible on a test, but it’s not when it comes to credit ratings.

That’s the grade Allegheny County received when analyzed by two different bond rating agencies for the 2011-12 fiscal year.  A+ is  classified as an “excellent” score, the highest being classified as “exceptional” at AAA, AAA-, or AA+. Moody's and Standard & Poor's gave the county the same grade a year ago.

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Government
5:55 pm
Fri September 7, 2012

Two Vacancies Filled on Real Estate Appeals Board as Caseload Gets Heavier

With thousands of property re-assessment appeals in process, two vacancies on the Board of Viewers have been filled. The group hears appeals of commercial and residential assessments, so it’s one step above the informal and formal appeals process, but below the Court of Common Pleas. The Board was left with two vacancies this summer when one of its members died and another resigned.

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Education
2:35 pm
Fri September 7, 2012

South Side Carnegie Library First in City with Geothermal Cooling/Heating

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s South Side branch is one of the oldest. It recently underwent renovations and for the first time in its 103 year history it will have air conditioning. Several other branches have been renovated in the last decade, but none have included the geothermal technology that will be in use on the South Side.

“We’ve just worked out that we were able to incorporate the geothermal technology in this renovation because we had enough space to dig the wells and the land around to do it,” said Mary Monaghan, assistant director for neighborhood libraries.

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Local
2:34 pm
Fri September 7, 2012

Weekend of Actitivies Mark 9/11 Anniversary at Flight 93 Crash Site

UPDATED: Vice President Joe Biden to visit Tuesday.

Following last year’s high-profile 10th anniversary of the September 11th terror attacks, this year will be a bit more low-key at the Flight 93 site. Building of a memorial is still in progress at the rural Somerset County site, which will host a weekend full of events, including a discussion with law enforcement officials who were at the scene.

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Government
2:07 am
Fri September 7, 2012

Port Authority Pleads its Case to RAD

The Port Authority of Allegheny County is counting on The Allegheny Regional Asset District (RAD) to contribute $3 million for ten years to help open the door for state funding.

At RAD's budget request hearing Thursday, Port Authority CEO Steve Bland and Jennifer Liptak, chief of staff for Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, made the argument to board members that public transit should be considered a regional asset, and therefore eligible for funding.

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Local
9:01 pm
Thu September 6, 2012

New Court for Veterans in Butler County

The latest treatment court for veterans opened Thursday in Butler County. Judge Tim McCune will preside over the court. 

"It doesn't cost the county anything because we are dealing with these cases anyway," he said. 

Of the veteran's cases reviewed in 2011 by The Butler County Probation office, 56 percent of the vets had been homeless, 62 percent had mental health issues and 47 percent had substance abuse issues.

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Government
6:41 pm
Thu September 6, 2012

Smith Calls For Flat Tax, Balanced Budget Amendment

Republican U.S. Senate nominee Tom Smith of Armstrong County today unveiled a five-point economic plan as he prepares for the final two months of the election campaign.  Smith criticized incumbent Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) for voting to raise the nation's debt ceiling seven times but "never heard him come forward with a plan" on growing the economy or "how we get our deficit spending under control." 

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Environment
5:32 pm
Thu September 6, 2012

Gas Exploration Landscape Disturbance in Bradford and Washington Counties Mapped in Federal Report

The natural gas boom in Pennsylvania is unlocking energy, but it’s also changing the landscape. A study released by the U.S. Geological Survey documented changes in land usage between 2004 and 2010. Bradford and Washington Counties were chosen for the first report, because they were identified as “exceptionally productive” areas of Marcellus Shale Development. The USGS report finds 642 sites in Bradford County and 949 in Washington County.

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Education
3:34 pm
Thu September 6, 2012

The Next 5 Years And The Carnegie Library Of Pittsburgh

After nine months of collaboration by board, staff, and community members, the final draft of Carnegie Library’s next five-year strategic plan is ready to be shown to the public.

On Saturday, September 15 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in East Liberty, the Library will hold an interactive workshop on the plan.

Library spokesperson Suzanne Thinnes said the workshop will be interactive and will utilize ideas presented by the public in further sessions.

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Government
3:18 pm
Thu September 6, 2012

City Council Moves to Block Land Sale to Highland Park CDC

(This story was updated 3:20 pm 9/06/12)

Pittsburgh City Council has voted to block the pending sale of a residential property to the Highland Park Community Development Corporation (HPCDC), with Council Members portraying the group as tax-delinquent and "abundantly negligent" of its current properties.

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Government
12:38 am
Thu September 6, 2012

Local Reaction to Democratic National Convention

The chair of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee said she's pleased with the Democratic National Convention taking place in Charlotte this week, although it's "quite different" from the party's 2008 convention.

"It's not only the venue and the geography, but also I think that the number of people that are here -- we have the same amount of delegates, but there may be somewhat less in general population," said ACDC Chairwoman Nancy Patton Mills. "But keeping that all in mind, this has been very, very pleasant. Charlotte's been a very good host city."

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