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Local
6:47 pm
Wed February 1, 2012

Possible Education Cuts Prompt Rally

Students from the four state-related universities held a rally in Harrisburg this week voicing their concern over potential funding cuts ahead of Governor Corbett's budget address.

Alex McNeil, a Temple University student, noted the presence of Paul Clymer, House Education Committee Chairman and Bucks County Republican. Clymer was the lone legislator to attend the rally despite the fact that the House and Senate are not in session this week.

"I will give some credit: this does not entirely fall on deaf ears. Mr. Chairman, thank you for being here," McNeil said.

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Local
6:24 pm
Wed February 1, 2012

Reassessment Appeals Assistance Gets Green Light

Some Pittsburgh homeowners who plan to appeal their newly reassessed property values might get assistance from the city, but exactly who would qualify is up for debate.

Pittsburgh City Council has given preliminary approval to a program that would provide free legal advice and appraisal services to those homeowners whose properties were worth $150,000 or less in 2011, though that qualification might change.

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Arts
1:30 pm
Wed February 1, 2012

Cardinal Bevilacqua Dead Age 88

After a battle with an undisclosed form of cancer and dementia, Retired Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua died Tuesday in his sleep at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in the Philadelphia suburb of Wynnewood. Bevilacqua served as head of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for more than 15 years. Prior to taking that post he was the bishop of the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese from 1983-87.

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Transportation
9:03 pm
Tue January 31, 2012

PennDOT Details Modernization Efforts On New Webpage

Since the beginning of 2011, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has been working to modernize the way it does business. Now, the public can see what projects have been completed and what projects are still to come, all from the PennDOT website.

Transportation Secretary Barry J. Schoch publicly announced the new site on Tuesday. "PennDOT has a lon-standing tradition of continuous improvement. Now, the public can more easily track our efforts to enhance customer service, save money, and deliver projects more quickly," Schoch said.

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Local
8:40 pm
Tue January 31, 2012

County Councilman: Reassessments Flawed

One Allegheny County property owner said he has proof that the property value reassessment system is flawed.

County Councilman Matt Drozd (R-District 1) said on Tuesday that he received strangely fluctuating property value changes for four identical vacant lots, numbered 203-206 on Perrysville Avenue in Pittsburgh's North Side.

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Government
8:19 pm
Tue January 31, 2012

Lawmakers Push for Corbett Support of Transportation Funding Plan

On a rare sunny and mild January afternoon, several Democratic state lawmakers gathered at the Greenfield Bridge in Pittsburgh, calling on Governor Tom Corbett to take the lead on transportation funding. February 1st marks the six month anniversary of the governor's Blue Ribbon Transportation Commission releasing its report outlining options for the governor. The report included ideas such as uncapping the Oil Company Franchise Tax and raising license fees to support investments in highways, bridges, and mass transit.

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Government
6:57 pm
Tue January 31, 2012

Would-Be Candidates Plead for District Lines

Don O'Shell is currently the York County Clerk of Courts, but he planned to run as a Republican for the Senate seat being vacated by Dauphin County Republican Jeff Piccola. Now that the state Supreme Court has struck down the new legislative boundaries without issuing comment, O'Shell and others are in a holding pattern.

It may be some time before the state Supreme Court explains how a legislative redistricting map should be fixed.

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Government
6:27 pm
Tue January 31, 2012

Pennsylvania House Declares The Year of the Bible

You may have thought 2012 was the year of the dragon, but state House lawmakers have assigned a moniker.

With a unanimous vote last week, House members declared 2012 the "Year of the Bible."

The resolution recognizes the book that has shaped the Commonwealth and the "national need to study and apply the teachings of the holy scriptures."

Sponsoring Representative Rick Saccone (R-Jeffrson Hills) said he's been getting a bit of critical feedback on the measure.

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Economy
6:00 pm
Tue January 31, 2012

City Roads, Buildings to be Repaired with $80 Million Bond

Pittsburgh City Councilman Ricky Burgess said city residents can expect a higher level of capital investment this year, thanks to Council's unanimous approval Tuesday of an $80 million bond deal.

"You'll see more streets paved," said Burgess. "You'll see more public buildings repaired. You'll see more houses torn down, more lots cleaned. You'll start to see us invest in the city's infrastructure, which is decaying around us."

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Government
4:30 pm
Tue January 31, 2012

Pennsylvania House Speaker Files Federal Suit Over Old District Maps

Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Sam Smith has asked a federal judge to rule that district maps from a decade ago no longer be used for elections.

"He believes, as do others, that the 2001 legislative lines are out of whack and are unconstitutional, and violate the one person, one vote standard," said Smith Spokesperson Steve Miskin.

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Economy
8:17 pm
Mon January 30, 2012

United Way Offering Free Tax Preparation for Low-Income Workers

Those who struggle to make ends meet following tax season might not be taking full advantage of what's offered in tax credits and deductions.

The United Way of Allegheny County is promoting a free tax preparation program to help about a third of eligible workers who don't apply for the Earned Income Tax Credit. Allegheny County has partnered with the UWAC and County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said some people are unaware of how much money they can get back.

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Local
7:48 pm
Mon January 30, 2012

Garden Theater Center of North Side Redevelopment

The long-vacant Masonic Hall on Pittsburgh's North Side is unused to visitors, and it certainly wasn't prepared to host the dozens who stopped by for a news conference Monday morning. Chips of paint, plaster, and drywall littered the rickety floor, and the expansive, crumbling chambers were as chilly as the air outside.

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Economy
7:06 pm
Mon January 30, 2012

Salvation Army & Groupon Partner To Provide Heating Assistance

G-Team, the philanthropic arm of the "deal-of-the-day" website Groupon, is teaming with the Salvation Army to help needy Pittsburgh residents. Starting Tuesday, people will be able to make donations on the site to help families with their heating assistance.

To receive money, The Salvation Army needs a minimum of 40 pledges, at least $10 apiece, in three days. If The Salvation Army does not reach a $400 goal it receives nothing and donor credit cards are not charged.

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Local
4:09 pm
Mon January 30, 2012

Residents to Get Help With Assessment Appeals

A new program will help city residents who are challenging their assessed values.

The plan was announced Monday by Pittsburgh City Council members William Peduto, Corey O'Connor, and City Controller Michael Lamb in Bloomfield at a meeting attended by concerned members of the Bloomfield Citizens Council.

The program will include free one-on-one consultations, legal services, comparable analysis, assistance with appeal filing, and a 50/50 match program for independent appraisals.

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Local
8:00 am
Mon January 30, 2012

Social Justice Organization To Celebrate 40 Years

The Thomas Merton Center on Penn Avenue celebrates its 40th anniversary Tuesday, January 31, which would be its namesake's 97th birthday.

Thomas Merton was a Trappist Monk who wrote literature on spirituality, nonviolence and the call to social justice.

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Transportation
8:00 am
Mon January 30, 2012

PennDot Reminds Motorists of Hotline for Roadway Saftey

2,568 miles of roadway fall under the PennDot District 11 umbrella, and recent weather conditions have lead to a whole new crop of potholes. Jim Struzzi, PennDot District 11 spokesperson, reminds motorists of Allegheny, Beaver, and Lawrence counties to report safety concerns by calling 1-800-FIX-ROAD (1-800-349-7623).

The toll-free number can be called to report anything from signs, animal carcasses, or other safety concerns such as snow, ice, faulty drainage, or shoulder drop-offs.

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Environment
8:00 am
Mon January 30, 2012

White-Nose Syndrome Devastates Pennsylvania Bat Population

The little brown bat could be wiped out in the northeastern United States within the next decade by white-nose syndrome according to new projections.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says that since 2006, when white-nose syndrome was initially discovered, as many as 6.7 million bats have died from that disease.

Bats control pests on farms and in forests and serve as important pollinators.

Spokeswoman Ann Froschauer says some bat species are affected more than others, but typically the fungal disease is 80 to 85 percent fatal.

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Health
8:00 am
Mon January 30, 2012

Bill Would Require Ultrasounds for Women Seeking Abortion Services in Pennsylvania

The so-called Women's Right to Know Act (House Bill 1077) would require an abortion provider to do an ultrasound at least 24 hours before the procedure. Supporters say they want to make sure women have all of the medical information necessary before making a final decision on having an abortion.

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Government
7:27 am
Mon January 30, 2012

Pennsylvania GOP Makes Predictable Endorsements

All four of Governor Tom Corbett's picks for state and federal offices received the endorsement of the commonwealth's Republican committee over the weekend. Not all of the votes were easy.

During a forum of U.S. Senate candidates this weekend, Corbett could be found outside in the hallway, the top of his head barely visible from behind an armchair facing the wall in the corner. He was "shoring up support," said members of his staff.

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Health
10:55 am
Sun January 29, 2012

Autism Study Sheds Light On Challenges

Information from more than 3,500 autistic adults and caregivers is included in the Pennsylvania Autism Needs Assessment study, the largest of its kind in the nation.

Anne Bale, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW) said there was a great need for information about people living with autism.

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Environment
12:30 pm
Sat January 28, 2012

Where Did All the Gas Go?

The federal government gave the Marcellus shale a big thumbs down this week. It dramatically downgraded its estimate of technically recoverable natural gas in the formation, from 410 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) (enough to heat and power the U.S. for 20 years) to 141 Tcf (about a 7 year national supply).

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Local
8:34 pm
Fri January 27, 2012

Corbett Administration Begins Justice Reinvestment Initiative

A newly formed panel of judges, lawmakers, state cabinet members, and other officials has been charged with finding ways to reduce spending on Pennsylvania's corrections system while increasing public safety.

Governor Tom Corbett this week launched the Justice Reinvestment Initiative by calling on the panel members to look at the numbers.

"We look to you to come with solutions to make our system better," Corbett said. "I expect this initiative will help reduce further our crime rate, decrease recidivism, and manage corrections spending more efficiently."

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Local
8:13 pm
Fri January 27, 2012

County Contoller to Evaluate Reasessment Process

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner announced on Friday that her office will look at the county's $8 million in reassessment contracts with Tyler Technologies, which provided staff and software to help the county revalue real estate.

Thousands of property owners in Pittsburgh and Mount Oliver have challenged their new assessments.

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Environment
5:25 pm
Fri January 27, 2012

Green WorkPlace Challenge Gauges Progress

After four months of a Sustainable Pittsburgh challenge posed to local businesses to "green" their buildings and practices, the organization announced the aggregate energy savings on Friday.

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Transportation
4:47 pm
Fri January 27, 2012

Region Unified in Blaming the State for Transit Cuts

Following a rally to urge Pennsylvania lawmakers to take action to provide consistent funding for public transit in the Pittsburgh region, protestors and officials filed into the monthly Port Authority board meeting.

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