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Transportation
5:52 pm
Fri February 24, 2012

Pennsylvania Investing in Sixteen Rail Projects Throughout the State

Governor Tom Corbett announced this week 16 freight-rail improvement projects will benefit from a $23 million investment. Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway in Allegheny County will get $1.6 million to rehabilitate and expand track, prepare for a transload area, and install new turnouts, track, and ties.

In Beaver County, the Aliquippa Ohio River Railroad will receive $490,000 for upgrades. State Senator Elder Vogel (R-Beaver County) said the railway has been requesting the funds for more than a year now, and they'll be used for improvements on about 7 miles of railway.

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Local
5:15 pm
Fri February 24, 2012

Study Highlights Benefits of Historic Preservation

A new study from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission will give historic preservation advocates evidence in real numbers of the economic benefits to be gained from such investments, according to Howard Pollman, spokesperson for the commission.

Federal resources coming into the state through the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit have stimulated considerable private investment, resulting in $7 billion in project expenditures from 1978 to 2010 and a total economic impact of $17.1 billion. Jobs supported number 148,000, and state tax revenues amount to $380 million.

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Transportation
2:44 pm
Fri February 24, 2012

Allegheny County Airport Authority in Bidding to Run Puerto Rico's Busiest Airport

The Allegheny County Airport Authority, along with a consortium led by GE Capital Aviation, is pursuing a contract to run Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Authority spokeswoman JoAnn Jenny said the authority is just one part of the group hoping to take control of the busiest airport in Puerto Rico, which flies out slightly more passengers than Pittsburgh International with 4.2 million departing passengers in 2010, according to FAA data.

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Local
1:40 pm
Fri February 24, 2012

Pennsylvania Capitol gets $55 Million Facelift

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett has included tens of millions of dollars in the state's capital budget to make what he calls "crucial repairs" to the state capitol. The $55 million would cover work on the capitol building itself and a few of the surrounding buildings.

Corbett blasted the same type of funding as a gubernatorial candidate when it happened under former governor Ed Rendell's watch. However, Corbett said his spending proposal is different. He said Rendell's spending on renovations is very different than his proposal for state Capitol fixes.

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Local
8:03 am
Fri February 24, 2012

Genealogy Weekend at History Center

People interested in beginning to research their family tree can find out how during Genealogy Weekend at the Senator John Heinz History Center.

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Health
5:01 am
Fri February 24, 2012

The Rate of Hospital Readmissions for Those with Infections Dropping in Pennsylvania

A new report [PDF] from the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) finds that among patients who acquired a healthcare-associated infection (HAI) in 2010, nearly 42% were readmitted within 30 days of discharge, 31.3% were readmitted specifically because of an infection or complication.

Among those without an HAI 16% were readmitted.

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Local
7:09 pm
Thu February 23, 2012

Activists Find Thousands of Foreclosures Violate State Law

ACTION United members joined attorney Michael Malakoff today to call on every Sheriff in the state to stop foreclosures they say proceeded illegally between 1995 and 2008.

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Health
6:59 pm
Thu February 23, 2012

New Hope for Heart Patients

Patients who suffer from end-stage biventricular heart failure, a condition where both sides of the heart become weakened and can't pump blood adequately throughout the body, might have a new hope, an artificial heart implantation that surgeons say will serve as a "bridge to transplant."

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Local
5:18 pm
Thu February 23, 2012

PUC Chairman: Commission Will Be Aggressive About Regulating Impact Fee Spending

The Public Utility Commission's Chairman may be "letting the play come to [it]" when it comes to collecting Pennsylvania's new impact and enforcing local zoning, but Chairman Rob Powelson says the commission will be aggressive about making sure local governments are using their impact fee revenue properly.

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Environment
9:38 am
Thu February 23, 2012

Connoquenessing Water OK

At least 10 households in western Pennsylvania fear their drinking water has been ruined by natural gas drilling, but state officials say tests don't show that.

Residents say Rex Energy Corp. has sent letters notifying them it will no longer deliver drinking water to the households after Feb. 29.

Rex Energy says in a statement that testing found no notable differences in pre and post-drilling water chemistry in Connoquenessing Township, about 35 miles north of Pittsburgh.

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Local
8:03 am
Thu February 23, 2012

State Related Schools Plead Case

The heads of the four state-related universities tried Wednesday to make the case that state funding is a major piece of their budgets. The move comes as their institutions face deep cuts for the second year in a row.

The Presidents of Penn State, Pitt, and Temple went before lawmakers in Harrisburg to testify on their budgetary needs. The Corbett Administration is calling for a 30 percent reduction to state funding for the schools. The presidents called that too harsh.

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Local
8:02 am
Thu February 23, 2012

2001 Districts to be Used in Primary

Leaders in the Pennsylvania Senate say the primary election will be held as scheduled, on April 24th, using the current legislative districts. The signal comes as the panel in charge of redistricting blew its first self-imposed deadline.

Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi said lawmakers won't try to push back the primary to accommodate the second round of map-making, nor will there be any fiddling with existing district boundary lines.

"Absent legislative or judicial action, they are the rules of the road for the upcoming primary," said Pileggi.

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Local
7:36 pm
Wed February 22, 2012

Roethlisberger Foundation Gives Grants for Police Dogs

The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation has given $52,400 in grants to nine local police and fire departments, meant to bolster K-9 units across the region.

The local departments will buy police dogs, the dogs' training, and their protective vests with the funding from Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Stephanie Sandler is Vice President of the Giving Back Fund, which administers Roethlisberger's foundation. She says the two-time Super Bowl winner wants to focus on funding for police dogs.

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Local
6:34 pm
Wed February 22, 2012

2013 Reassessment Information Easier To Access

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald introduced several new ways to make the 2013 court-ordered reassessments easier for property owners.

The county has created a simplified webpage to better access data on the 2012 base year values, the 2013 court-ordered reassessment values, and get information on when the 2013 market values will be mailed. Additionally, visitors to the site can download formal appeal forms, schedule an informal review or set corrections to property characteristics.

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Government
5:40 pm
Wed February 22, 2012

Critz Campaign Challenges Validity of Altmire’s Petition Signatures

The campaign for Congressman Mark Critz has filed objections to Congressman Jason Altmire's nominating petition, challenging the validity of more than half of the signatures on the petition that would place him in the April Democratic Primary. A spokesman for Critz said there are numerous irregularities found on the petition, including 385 signatures they said came from a circulator from outside the congressional district, which goes against state law.

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Local
5:15 pm
Wed February 22, 2012

Lottery and Liquor Might Mix to Boost State Revenue

Pennsylvania's revenue watchers say putting lottery ticket sales in state liquor stores would be a boon. But not all lawmakers are keen on the idea.

Profits from the Pennsylvania Lottery have held pretty steady over the past few years, according to the Revenue Department, and many believe that number can grow, which would add more money to the state's coffers. One key to boosting those sales is to increase the number of retailers.

The first place the Revenue bean counters are looking to is the state-run liquor stores.

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Local
4:51 pm
Wed February 22, 2012

UPMC, Highmark Do Battle in Monroeville

Highmark health insurance subscribers won't be able to use UPMC East at in-network rates when the hospital opens in Monroeville this July.

The health insurer turned down a one-year contract offer from UPMC on Tuesday, saying the proposed deal was too short.

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Local
2:37 pm
Wed February 22, 2012

Pennsylvania Education Secretary Points to Past

The state's top education official is defending the governor's budget plan for next year but in doing so he is focusing on the past.

Corbett's budget proposal would increase the largest share of state education spending by $20 million dollars compared to the budget that was passed last year. School districts say that specific increase is overshadowed by the proposed $100 million cut to another education funding stream, known as accountability block grants.

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Science & Technology
10:06 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

Penn State Explores Direct Digital Manufacturing

By the time the next academic year rolls around, scientists at Penn State University hope to have a cutting-edge manufacturing technology lab installed on campus.

Leaders of the school's Center for Innovative Materials Processing (CIMP) said the new facility explores "direct digital manufacturing" — a relatively new process by which machines can create products automatically, using only a digital blueprint.

Essentially, an engineer would be able to enter specifications into a computer and pick up the real, finished product at the other end of the lab shortly thereafter.

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Government
8:13 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

County Controller: Give Weights & Measures Duties to State

Controller Chelsa Wagner wants to let the state handle the auditing of weights and measures in Allegheny County, rather than relinquish control of the duty to the County Executive's office.

At Tuesday night's County Council meeting, Wagner plans to offer up a bill that would authorize the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to inspect scales, parking meters, gas pumps, and UPC price scanners in Allegheny County.

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Local
7:29 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

Library to Work on Stategic Plan

This week, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh will be holding the first of several meetings to gather community input on a strategic plan for the next five years.

Because their main source of funding comes from The Allegheny Regional Asset District, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has to provide them with a strategic plan about every five years. This time around, the library is seeking input from the community in drawing up their plan.

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Science & Technology
4:34 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

Highmark Launching First Statewide Health Information Exchange

Highmark has chosen Verizon to develop Pennsylvania's first comprehensive health information exchange (HIE). Doctors will be able to enter a patient's information into a system that will then be accessible by other physicians treating that patient.

"Health information exchanges are designed to provide a clearinghouse for health care providers and hospitals to share and exchange information to improve patient care," said Aaron Billger, a spokesman for Highmark.

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Government
9:20 am
Tue February 21, 2012

Public Education Group Analyzes Pittsburgh Schools

An independent study by A+ Schools reports the Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) has made "solid progress" towards financial stability.

Carey Harris, executive director of A+, said the city school system took decisive action to cut its budget deficit from a projected $100 million to $30 million.

She said the report also notes the Governor Corbett's proposed state budget for 2012-2013 has not restored funding cuts made last year to public schools.

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Local
7:51 pm
Mon February 20, 2012

Protesters Criticize New State Prison Construction

A score of protesters gathered outside the downtown office of the design firm Astorino today, where architects are drafting blueprints for a $315.8 million, two-prison compound in Montgomery County.

Members of the activist group "Decarcerate PA" held aloft a banner reading "No More Prisons" while traffic zipped by along Fort Pitt Boulevard.

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Local
7:18 pm
Mon February 20, 2012

Pittsburgh Region Shines in Annual Report

Pittsburgh TODAY has published its annual report on how the region compares to fourteen other areas of the country in ten categories: arts, demographics, economy, education, environment, government, health, housing, public safety and transportation.

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