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Local
5:50 pm
Fri May 4, 2012

Pennsylvania's First Lady Reads to Faison Kindergartners

Pennsylvania First Lady Susan Corbett read the book Amazing Grace to kindergartners at Pittsburgh Faison K-5 School in Homewood this morning and discussed it with older students. The book is about a little girl who wants to play Peter Pan in the school play but is told she can't because she is black and a girl. Grace achieves her goal by the end of the book, teaching the lesson that with perseverance and hard work, dreams can come true.

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Economy
5:27 pm
Fri May 4, 2012

Township Supervisors Discuss Impact Fee, Cost Savings

The Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS) is holding its 90th annual conference this weekend. PSATS director Dave Sanko said this year, out of deference to a new era of limited resources, everyone's focus is on saving money.

"Local governments are not looking to Harrisburg or Washington for money, but they are looking for mandate relief and to enable them to be able to do things more effectively, more efficiently, get rid of the some of the goofy rules that stand in their way that cost them money," Sanko said.

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Local
3:25 pm
Fri May 4, 2012

House Okays Expansion of Homestead Exemption

Legislation to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to allow for the exclusion of up to 100% of the value of a principal residence from property taxes has been unanimously approved by the state House.

Representative Rick Saccone (R-Washington & Allegheny Counties) said the legislative process to protect Pennsylvania homeowners from the burden of skyrocketing property taxes has begun to move in the right direction.

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Local
3:21 pm
Fri May 4, 2012

Tunch and Wolf’s Annual 20-mile Walk Through Pittsburgh Honors those who Help Homeless

The 20 mile walk took a group of participants to 16 Pittsburgh neighborhoods on Friday. They stopped in Market Square downtown on their way to Mt. Washington to hold a small ceremony honoring citizens who've stepped up in the last year to help the Light of Life Rescue Mission.

"Pittsburghers want to give of themselves, and to see a high school girl raise $8,000, that blows me away!" said Former Steeler Lineman Tunch Ilkin.

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Government
3:02 pm
Fri May 4, 2012

Another Attempt to Extend Low Interest Rates on Student Loans

In 2007, the College Affordability Plan gradually reduced interest rates from 3.4% to 6.8% on Federal Direct Stafford loans. If allowed to expire on July 1st, the interest rates on the student loans will return to 6.8%. U.S. Representative Mike Doyle (D-PA-14) is calling on Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Bob Casey (D-PA) to pass H.R.4816, known as Stop the Rate Hike Act of 2012.

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Economy
1:40 pm
Fri May 4, 2012

Potential DPW Policy Changes Could Endanger Disabled

Advocates are warning that some policy changes by the state Department of Public Welfare (DPW) are endangering the agencies that provide services to people with disabilities in their homes and communities.

Disability rights activists are renewing their call for a meeting with the governor about proposed budget cuts and changes to programs. A group of 26 people, many in wheelchairs, chanted outside the governor's office Thursday, saying their repeated attempts to schedule a meeting had been denied.

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Local
8:30 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

Altoona Gets Distressed Status

Altoona is joining Pittsburgh and nearly 20 other cities in Act 47 status. The city of 46,000 received permission Thursday to enter the program for "distressed municipalities." The move comes as some in Harrisburg are wondering if the program itself might be inadequate to help Pennsylvania cities struggling to deal with badly eroded tax bases.

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Local
8:15 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

Philadelphia’s Mayor Joins Ravenstahl and Fitzgerald to Discuss State Budget

Three of the most powerful non-state office holders in Pennsylvania have made their opposition to Governor Tom Corbett's proposed budget known. On Thursday, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter joined Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald to discuss how proposed cuts would affect the state's two largest metro areas.

"The proposed cuts in the governor's budget will have wide ranging effects in every city, in every county, in every neighborhood in the commonwealth," said Nutter.

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Local
7:15 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

Pennsylvania Loses Extended Unemployment Benefits

With Pennsylvania's unemployment rate creeping below the federal threshold, the U.S. Department of Labor has informed the state that it can no longer offer Extended Benefits (EB). The last payable week for the long-term unemployed will be May 12th.

Pennsylvania's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.5% in March, down from the 7.6% February rate. The U.S. rate came in at 8.2%. Pennsylvania has been below the U.S. rate for 47 consecutive months.

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Transportation
5:09 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

Business Leaders Call for PAT Funding Solution

Representatives of Pittsburgh's business community are warning state legislators that local companies would be seriously hurt by the Port Authority of Allegheny County's plan to cut service by 35%.

The Port Authority plans to drop 46 of its 102 routes in September, a necessary response to its $65 million budget deficit. The authority went through a similar round of cuts last year.

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Local
4:39 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

Shadyside Will be Home to Pittsburgh’s First Bike Corrals

The bicycle parking will accommodate between 6-12 bikes or more when complete. The corrals will be in Shadyside at the corner of Walnut and Bellefonte, and will be on the street. In an area where parking is a hot commodity, area business leaders were willing to give up a couple of spaces for the project.

"But what we found is an area where there is no parking, on both sides, so we're not losing one parking spot. At the same time, we're making it safer because it is constantly used by people illegally," said Pittsburgh City Councilman Bill Peduto.

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Local
1:44 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

Panel Gets Feedback On Redistricting Redux

The panel that failed in its first effort to redraw state House and Senate district lines began taking public comment Wednesday on its latest preliminary plan.

At the first of two hearings yesterday, reapportionment commisioners heard testimony from high-profile speakers, including state Sen. Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson Co.). The Senate President Pro Tempore objected to the panel's decision to move the district of a retiring state senator rather than one that had lost more population.

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Health
8:29 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

Environmental Groups, Citizens, Urge Health Board to Pass New Air Guidelines

Members of the Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP) and Allegheny County residents implored the County Board of Health Wednesday to pass updated and strengthened air toxic guidelines (ATG), the document used to permit new sources of air pollution in the county.

GASP Executive Director Rachel Filippini said the hope was that the board would have new guidelines to consider at their meeting on Wednesday, but they didn't.

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Health
7:12 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

County Health Board Names Interim Director

The Allegheny County Board of Health has appointed Ronald Voorhees as interim director. This comes after the board ousted County Health Director Bruce Dixon after 20 years on the job. He'll be leaving in early June.

"It is the intention of the board to hold a national search for a permanent director, and that process will begin. We've already posted the job description," said Board Chair Lee Harrison.

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Local
7:10 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

New VA Facility to Streamline Services

In a space that was until recently a parking lot now stands the newest addition to the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System.

It took more than a decade for it to come together, but the new facility in Oakland is being touted as the future of veteran-centered health care.

New features include 78 private beds for psychiatric care in the same building as an outpatient primary-care center that providers hope will streamline services.

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Government
7:00 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

City Council Approves Special Fund for Civic Arena Parking Tax

Pittsburgh City Council has given preliminary approval to a bill that would divert parking tax revenue from the former Civic Arena site into a special fund for Hill District redevelopment.

After hours of discussion, the heated debate was cut short and a six-member majority approved the bill. A few Council Members had raised concerns as to the legality and fairness of a special fund to benefit just one neighborhood.

Councilman Patrick Dowd disagreed with that notion.

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Local
6:11 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

South Shore Riverfront Park Cuts Ribbon

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl presided over the opening of the South Shore Riverfront Park at South Side Works. The green space sits between 25th and 29th Streets on the site of a former J&L steel mill. Congressman Mike Doyle, who was on hand for the ribbon cutting, said he spent two summers during college working in the mill that once stood there on the midnight to 8:00 AM shift.

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Local
5:30 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

Report on County’s Finances Shows Fund Balance Shrinking

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner presented her report today on the state of county finances for 2011.

In the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), Wagner highlighted the problem of relying on unsustainable measures to fill in budget deficits over the past three years, including a total of $45.6 million in one-time budget fixes for 2011.

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Health
5:23 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

Highmark – UPMC Extend In-Network Deal to December 2014

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Highmark Inc. have agreed to another extension. This one will provide in-network access for Highmark Commercial and Medicare Advantage members to all UPMC hospitals and physicians through the end of 2014.

The new deal replaces a one-year contract extension that was set to expire June 30, 2013.

While making the announcement, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett said he hopes the two non-profits will continue to meet to try and hammer out a deal that will extend beyond December 31, 2014.

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Local
4:26 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

State Year-to-Date Deficit Shrinks, Administration “Cautiously Optimistic”

Things are looking up for Pennsylvania's year-end deficit, due to higher-than-expected tax revenue collections in March and April, when tax revenue collections were 3% higher than the state expected.

So far, the state's shortfall is about $288 million. Back in December, the Corbett administration predicted it would be a $719 million deficit by the end of the fiscal year in June.

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Health
3:57 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

New VA Facility to Streamline Services

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

In a space that was until recently a parking lot now stands the newest addition to the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System.

It took more than a decade for it to come together, but the new facility in Oakland is being touted as the future of veteran-centered health care.

New features include 78 private beds for psychiatric care in the same building as an outpatient primary-care center that providers hope will streamline services.

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Economy
9:30 pm
Tue May 1, 2012

Pittsburgh Finances a Mixed Bag in 2011

Pittsburgh ended its 2011 fiscal year with a $20 million surplus, but Controller Michael Lamb warned the city isn't likely to end up with so much extra money this year.

In an annual financial report released Tuesday, Lamb said Pittsburgh only ran a surplus last year because the city was given an unusual boost from one-time revenue sources.

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Environment
8:10 pm
Tue May 1, 2012

Campaign to Revitalize City Blocks Gets Major Expansion

Residents in the 400 block of Jucunda Street in the Knoxville neighborhood of the city of Pittsburgh gathered today in an open lot on their street to join Mayor Luke Ravenstahl in announcing an expansion of the Love Your Block campaign.

The campaign, begun last year, gives small grants to blocks throughout the city which have proposed ideas to spruce up the appearance of their streets.

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Local
8:00 pm
Tue May 1, 2012

Youth Employment the Focus of Events in Pittsburgh this Week

The 6th Annual Imagine! Career Week kicked off Monday in Pittsburgh and included a breakfast on Tuesday with Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis. The goal of the week is to expose Pittsburgh youth ages 14-24 to a wide range of career options.

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Economy
6:00 pm
Tue May 1, 2012

Statewide Survey Paints Gloomy Picture Among Pennsylvania Business Owners and CEOs

A new survey finds 30% of business owners in Pennsylvania feel economic conditions in the state have worsened over the last year; 17% said conditions were better. That was one of the findings of the Spring 2012 Keystone Business Climate Survey conducted by the Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research, a conservative think tank.

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