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Local
8:00 am
Mon January 16, 2012

New Lease Gives Pittsburgh Botanic Garden a Historic Farmstead

The Pittsburgh Botanic Garden is getting a little bigger. Allegheny County agreed to lease 6 more acres of land to serve as the public entrance to the garden's 460 acres when it opens next year. The Botanic Garden will be the largest site of its kind in the region.

"Pittsburgh really doesn't have an outdoor botanic garden where people can see artistic and horticultural displays of native and exotic plants," said Pittsburgh Botanical Garden President Greg Nace.

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Government
6:47 pm
Fri January 13, 2012

Reformers Wary of Attorney General Candidate

Government reform activists warn that the lone Republican candidate for Pennsylvania Attorney General could hamper the ongoing probe into the Milton Hershey School.

Cumberland County District Attorney Dave Freed has Governor Corbett's backing to become the commonwealth's top prosecutor. Freed is the son-in-law of Roy Zimmerman, who recently stepped down as chairman of the board that oversees the Milton Hershey School. The school has been under investigation by the state Attorney General for the past year.

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Local
6:36 pm
Fri January 13, 2012

URA Approves Financing for Redevelopment Projects

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) Board of Directors approved financing today for Locomotive Development to construct projects in Lawrenceville, Stanton Heights, and Sheraden.

Locomotive Development, a partnership of Rodriguez Associates and Green Development, Inc., will receive a $900,000 loan to construct a housing complex called "Locomotive Lofts" to be located in a once-vacant industrial lot in Lawrenceville.

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Transportation
6:09 pm
Fri January 13, 2012

Landslides on McArdle Roadway Persist

The hillside continues to crumble away in Mount Washington near the LeMont Restaurant. Yet another landslide shook the area on Wednesday night. The mountainside repairs are taking longer than originally thought.

The incident closed Grandview Avenue for some time, while the P.J. McArdle Roadway is still closed to traffic.

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Local
3:00 pm
Fri January 13, 2012

MLK Jr. Day of Service Drive Collects “Overlooked” Goods For Pittsburgh's Needy

Pittsburgh Cares and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership are organizing a toiletry drive to benefit the underprivileged in the region.

Vivian Croft, program coordinator at Pittsburgh Cares, said that the drive helps collect goods that often get overlooked as necessities.

"We have places like food pantries, food banks, places that people can go to get other types of items that they need in their home," Croft said. "But when it comes to smaller things like toiletries, a lot of those things aren't really thought of as needed."

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Local
2:59 pm
Fri January 13, 2012

Salvation Army Campaign Not Over Yet

The western Pennsylvania Salvation Army's Red Kettle campaign fell short of this holiday season's higher goals by more than $680,000, but they are hoping to make up the difference.

Divisional Commander Major William Bode said there are still ways to donate, even though you won't see Red Kettles outside storefronts again until November.

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Science & Technology
1:07 pm
Fri January 13, 2012

How One Thousand Pounds Of Butter Becomes Three Days’ Worth Of Energy

A dizzying fall from grace is in store for the Pennsylvania Farm Show's famed butter sculpture.

Thousands of people have snapped pictures of the refrigerated sculpture, which depicts a boy leading his prize-winning calf through a county fair.

Next week, however, a Juniata County farmer will unceremoniously dump it into a manure pit.

That's because he's turning the sculpture into methane gas. One thousand pounds of butter, it turns out, creates enough energy to power a farm for three days.

Local
8:00 am
Fri January 13, 2012

Science Center To Host Free Day

Monday may be more widely known as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, but the Carnegie Science Center and Duquesne Light are partnering to make January 16th "Duquesne Light Conservation Day." The day of free activities was born from suggestions made by parents and visitors.

Participants will have the opportunity to engage in environmentally-themed programming for free at the Science Center from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The day features free parking, free admission to the Science Center and SportsWorks, free access to an Omnimax film and two theater shows.

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Local
10:24 pm
Thu January 12, 2012

2011 Assessment Numbers to be Used in 2012

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald is calling a judge's decision to allow school district and municipalities to use old property values "a big victory." Court of Common Pleas Judge R. Stanton Wettick reversed his earlier ruling Thursday and decided to allow the taxing bodies to send out 2012 tax bills using the 2011 values.

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Local
9:26 pm
Thu January 12, 2012

Clean Car Proposal Could Benefit Pennsylvanians

Currently, the average car in the United States gets 27.1 miles to the gallon. But if a new proposal is passed, that average may more than double.

On January 19th, the Environmental Protection Agency will hold a hearing in Philadelphia to gauge public interest about the Obama Administration's plan to increase the average highway miles per gallon to 54.5 by 2025.

PennEnvironment Field Organizer Ali Blumenstock says one of the main benefits of boosting the miles per gallon standard will be how much per year will be saved on gasoline.

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Environment
5:09 pm
Thu January 12, 2012

EPA Charts Greenhouse Emissions from Big Operations

In 2008 Congress tasked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with creating a first-of-its-kind, national, comprehensive greenhouse gas reporting system. On Thursday, the agency released the facility level greenhouse gas data to the public.

Gina McCarthy with the EPA's Office of Air and Radiation said the data is a boon to those who want to chart and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

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Local
3:13 pm
Thu January 12, 2012

Court Reformers: Orie Melvin Should Step Down

A judicial reform group is calling on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to remove Justice Joan Orie Melvin.

Melvin, the sister of State Sen. Jane Orie (R-Allegheny County), was subpoenaed in December by the grand jury investigating alleged political corruption on the part of Jane Orie and her staff. Joan Orie Melvin has said she will recuse herself from any case involving Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala, who argued the case against her sister. But court reform advocates are not satisfied with that pledge.

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Local
2:36 pm
Thu January 12, 2012

New Legislative Districts Appealed

Wednesday was the deadline in Pennsylvania to file appeals over new state legislative districts announced last month. So far at least 11 appeals have been processed, many of them objecting to the way new boundaries split towns and counties into separate districts.

That sort of configuration is supposed to be prohibited by the state constitution except under extraordinary circumstances. But Michael Churchill, a lawyer at the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, said there is no reason for those communities to be divided except for the sake of political expediency.

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Economy
9:23 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

Small Business Optimism in Midst of “Economic Winter”

A survey by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) reports small business optimism rose nationwide in December for the fourth consecutive month. While the NFIB's Optimism Index gained 5.7 points since September, it is still 6 points below the pre-recession average.

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Arts
9:22 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

96th Pennsylvania Farm Show Delights 400,000

It's a cliché, but you can't leave the Farm Show without trying the food, whether it's the milkshakes in the food court or free samples in the marketplace.

Brian Nicklaus sells Hammond's Pretzels. A bowl of pretzel bits sits out, free for the picking; apparently he's not worried about people filling up on samples. Nicklaus says that he doesn't see too many shameless freeloaders.

"Well, you see people but you don't say it to 'em," he says, chuckling.

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Environment
9:09 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

Local Power Plant May Undergo Clean Changes

The Homer City power plant in Indiana County might lose its reputation for being one of the dirtiest coal-fired power plants in America with a proposed installation of pollution controls.

Doug McFarlan, Vice President of Public Affairs for Edison Mission Energy (EME), which owns and operates the plant, unveiled the plan at a four-hour open house in Homer City.

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Transportation
8:02 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

PennDOT Chief: Transportation Funding Plan Forthcoming

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett will announce a plan to inject new revenues into the state's dilapidated transportation system in his February 5 budget address, according to a top administration official.

At a hearing on Wednesday, Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch said that the governor still must decide which funding recommendations he'll take from the report issued by his Transportation Funding Advisory Commission last summer.

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Health
7:05 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

New Effort Aimed at Helping Ease Transition for Children with Disabilities into Adulthood

The 21 and Able initiative seeks to create a system for youth with disabilities who are transitioning out of the education and supportive services system. Currently, once a person with disabilities turns 21, they have officially "aged out" of the education system and no longer qualify for many benefits they may have had as children. That's the case with William, who will turn 21 in late January.

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Health
6:38 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

Child Protection Task Force Members Appointed

In Pennsylvania, most professionals who come in contact with children are required to report suspected child abuse. As a direct response to the sex abuse scandal at Penn State University, the state legislature has created the Task Force on Child Protection.

The ten members will review current state policies governing child protection, the reporting of child abuse, and propose suggestions to improve the system. Four members were appointed by Governor Tom Corbett, and three each by the House and Senate.

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Local
4:08 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

Community Tips Are Helping Ross Township Rape Investigations

The investigation into two sexual assaults that have shocked Ross Township residents continues with the community's help.

The first reported rape occurred January 7 at 9:30 AM in the Woodhawk Club apartment complex in Ross Township, and was followed by a report of a sexual assault by a man with a revolver in the Cascades apartment complex on Monday morning.

Ross Police Sergeant Benjamin Dripps said that the two attacks were not necessarily committed by the same person.

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Environment
9:19 pm
Tue January 10, 2012

Water Well Rules Proposed for Pennsylvania

A Pennsylvania lawmaker says that more than 20,000 private water wells are drilled every year in Pennsylvania, but a lack of regulations means that there's nothing to ensure water quality for homeowners. Water quality has been a focus in the ongoing Marcellus shale drilling debate.

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Local
8:57 pm
Tue January 10, 2012

Pittsburgh Public Schools Argues for One-Year Hold on Reassessment

A lawyer for Pittsburgh Public Schools asked Common Pleas Judge R. Stanton Wettick to put Allegheny County's property reassessment on hold for a year on Tuesday.

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Local
8:16 pm
Tue January 10, 2012

New State Requirements will Mandate Asset Tests for Those Seeking Food Stamps

Starting in May, Pennsylvanians under 60 will only be able to receive food stamps if they have less than $2,000 in savings and don't own multiple vehicles. Taking such assets into account is a way, officials said, of weeding out fraud in the program. Houses and retirement benefits would be exempt, but second cars with a value of more than $4,650 would count.

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Economy
6:45 pm
Tue January 10, 2012

Pension Plans in Smaller Municipalities in Allegheny County Healthy Even in the Midst of Recession

Given ongoing struggles with Pittsburgh's pension funding, the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy decided to examine how the other 129 municipalities in the county are faring with their plans. Using the most recent pension plan data available, which was from 2009, the institute found that overall, smaller municipalities were doing quite well, with only three of the plans funded below 50 percent.

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Local
4:26 pm
Tue January 10, 2012

BNY Mellon, Occupy Pittsburgh Make Opening Arguments

Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Judge Christine Ward heard opening arguments on Tuesday in a request to evict the Occupy Pittsburgh protesters from their encampment on BNY Mellon's small park in downtown Pittsburgh.

While BNY Mellon lawyers said that the protest group must leave the 'Mellon Green' park because it's private property, the protesters' legal team argued that the park is a public forum and therefore open for a prolonged demonstration.

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