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Local
7:35 pm
Wed March 21, 2012

ServePGH Marks First Anniversary – Officials Deem the Program a Success and Plan to Expand

ServePGH includes seven initiatives aimed at improving neighborhoods in the city, including the "Love Your Block" revitalization project, the Mayor's Mentoring Initiative, and the Snow Angels program through which volunteers shovel and de-ice sidewalks for disabled and elderly residents. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's office celebrated the one year anniversary of the program Wednesday, and highlighted some of its successes.

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Local
6:38 pm
Wed March 21, 2012

Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series Comes to Pittsburgh; First Race in 2013

The inaugural Rock 'n' Roll Pittsburgh Half Marathon is expected to bring between 8,000 and 12,000 participants and spectators to the area. The event will come to the Steel City on August 4, 2013.

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Government
6:32 pm
Wed March 21, 2012

Perzel Sentenced in BonusGate Scandal

John Perzel, the self-professed architect of a state House Republican scheme to pay for political campaign computer software with taxpayer dollars was sentenced today to up to five years in prison. The former state House Speaker was also ordered to pay $1 million in restitution, as well as thousands in fines.

Perzel, from Philadelphia, pleaded guilty last fall to charges of theft, conspiracy, and conflict of interest.

Chief Deputy state Attorney General Frank Fina said his decision to plead guilty and cooperate with prosecutors made his sentence lighter.

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Health
5:48 pm
Wed March 21, 2012

Lung Association Defends Clean Air Act

The American Lung Association is hosting "Healthy Air Day" in Pittsburgh to back the Clean Air Act as a part of the organization's Red Carriage Initiative.

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Economy
5:11 pm
Wed March 21, 2012

Pittsburgh Tourism Remains Strong, Continues to Grow

2011 was a strong year for the tourism industry in Pittsburgh, according to VisitPittsburgh, which hosted its annual meeting Wednesday. Industry leaders said the area continues to be a big draw for visitors from around the country and the world.

"We ended last year with 68.2% occupancy, and that compares against a national average of 60%, we did better than Washington, D.C., Chicago, Illinois and even Orlando, Florida," said Craig Davis, the newly-named president and CEO of VisitPittsburgh.

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Local
11:02 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

Orie: I didn't commit perjury at corruption trial

Republican state Sen. Jane Orie of McCandless on Tuesday denied prosecutors' accusations that she attempted to hide evidence of illegal political work she allegedly ordered her legislative staff to perform at taxpayer expense — including charges that she committed perjury or submitted forged documents at what became a mistrial last year, or that she had directed a cover-up from the earliest days of the investigation.

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Transportation
8:59 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

City Council Considers Traffic Light Cameras

In order to assess fines on drivers who run red lights, some traffic lights in Pittsburgh may be equipped with cameras in the near future.

Under a bill in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Pittsburgh and several other Pennsylvania cities would have the option of installing the so-called red light cameras. Philadelphia has been running a camera program since 2005.

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Local
8:30 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

PA House Considers Funding Changes For Charter Schools

State House lawmakers are wrestling with possible changes to laws that govern Pennsylvania's charter and virtual charter schools.

In the process, they're hearing from the Auditor General's office, which reports that the rapid growth of such schools in the state is making things harder for poor school districts.

Deputy Auditor General Thomas Marks told the House Education Committee Tuesday the problem stems from how charter schools are funded, based on the cost of educating a student in his or her home school district, and not the cost of education at the charter.

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Science & Technology
7:51 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

PA Green Groups Rate Lawmakers On Marcellus Shale Legislation Voting

Pennsylvania state Representatives and Senators received an overall failing grade on recent Marcellus Shale gas drilling votes, according to a new score card released today.

Environmental groups— PennEnvironment, Clean Water Action, Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, and Sierra Club— graded all 253 Pennsylvania state lawmakers on how they voted on HB 1950.

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Science & Technology
7:28 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

Allegheny County Council Gets First Look at Marcellus Impact Fee Bill

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald is following the lead other counties have taken, in proposing legislation that would authorize an impact fee on Marcellus Shale natural gas wells in the county. Such a move, he said, would help take pressure off residents.

"This is another way to get revenues from the Marcellus Shale operations, it's basically an extraction fee, an extraction tax, which I think most people support in trying to alleviate the pressure on property tax," said Fitzgerald.

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Transportation
6:03 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

Pittsburgh Airport Now Accessible By Bicycle

Dozens of spandex-clad bicyclists pedaled to the airport via the newly-opened connection between the Montour Trail and Pittsburgh International Airport Tuesday. According to organizers, the Montour Trail is the longest suburban trail in the nation. Years ago area officials were tasked with connecting it to the airport. Now that it's complete, officials said an economic boost to the region will follow.

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Government
5:07 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

When it comes to state Senate, silence from the AG’s office

As state attorney general, Gov. Corbett's investigations into the state House netted dozens of prosecutions. Last week, the charges filed by federal prosecutors against former Democratic state Sen. Bob Mellow brought the total of state Senators prosecuted for public corruption to three. But those charges aren't coming from the state attorney general's office, raising questions about the fate of the sweeping investigation Corbett once headed up.

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Transportation
4:18 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

New Taxis to Focus on Downtown Pittsburgh

A new taxi fleet will allow Pittsburghers to hail cabs in the Golden Triangle, rather than calling a dispatch service. The "City Cab" service launched Tuesday with a fleet of six cars.

The white taxis are meant to focus on downtown Pittsburgh, but they'll also cart people to nearby neighborhoods like Oakland, the South Side, the North Side, and Mount Washington.

The Pittsburgh Transportation Group launched the fleet at a total cost of about $250,000, including roughly $12,500 for each car.

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Local
3:03 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

Carnegie Library Board to Hold Open Meeting

The public is invited to meet with the Board of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh this Thursday evening.

It's the first in a series of annual meetings meant to connect the Board of Directors with the community.

Carnegie Library spokeswoman Suzanne Thinnes said the meeting will begin with a short "State of the Library" presentation. Thinnes said board members will speak about this year's library programs, and update the public on the library's finances.

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Transportation
7:37 am
Tue March 20, 2012

North Shore Connector Wins Construction Award

The builders of the $523 million North Shore Connector, which is to open to the public Sunday, have won the Alliant Build America Award.

North Shore Constructors, a consortium of contracting firms, is among 16 recipients to have "demonstrated the very best when it comes to building a better America," according to the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America, the group bestowing the honor.

AGC spokesman Brian Turmail said the complexity of the connector project impressed the judges.

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Transportation
7:05 am
Tue March 20, 2012

Pedaling Pittsburgh History

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Local
7:04 am
Tue March 20, 2012

Mayors Visiting Homes for National Mayors for Meals Day

More than 20 local government leaders will help deliver food to the elderly, ill, or disabled as part of Meals on Wheels nationwide "Mayors for Meals Day." On Wednesday, they'll go on routes in their communities to deliver food to people who, in many cases, rely on the program for their sole source of nutrition.

"What this does is raise awareness of the growing population of senior citizens in Allegheny County," said Coraopolis Mayor Anthony Celeste, "a lot of them don't have the means, and these folks at Meals on Wheels are the only contacts for some senior citizens."

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Economy
9:10 pm
Mon March 19, 2012

Lt. Governor Touts Marcellus Jobs Potential

Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor Jim Cawley toured the U.S. Steel Irvin Plant in West Mifflin on Monday to talk about the jobs created by the Marcellus Shale industry.

The lieutenant governor spoke to a crowd of roughly 60 steelworkers, flanked by officials of U.S. Steel and other companies who've grown as the state's natural gas sector expands.

"If you're going to drill for gas, you're going to need steel," said Cawley. "Steel for drilling rigs; steel for platforms; steel for pipelines. Clearly, this is a great opportunity for Pennsylvania."

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Local
8:13 pm
Mon March 19, 2012

Sen. Orie Takes Stand in Own Defense

Republican state Sen. Jane Orie testified Monday that she "was very attuned" to the state's rules forbidding campaign corruption and did everything in her power to ensure her staff didn't break those rules, instead blaming any illegal acts that may have occurred on her former chief of staff.

Orie's testimony came during her retrial on theft of services and conflict of interest charges that she illegally used her state-funded staff to do political work that benefited herself and her sister, state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin, since 2001. Melvin isn't charged.

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Arts
4:11 pm
Mon March 19, 2012

Wanted: Little Brothers and Sisters

Big Brothers Big Sisters is looking for more "Little" brothers and sisters. Due to successful volunteer recruiting of "Bigs" in the area, the Pittsburgh non-profit is now seeking more children in need of mentors.

Jan Glick, CEO of the Greater Pittsburgh arm of Big Brothers Big Sisters, explains why the tables have turned.

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Government
2:32 pm
Mon March 19, 2012

PA Grade For Government Integrity Falls in Middle of the Pack

Pennsylvania's state government operations received a "C-" in integrity, but the state still ranked 19th in the nation.

The Center for Public Integrity sent a journalist to each state capitol to do the research, using 330 questions in 14 categories to determine how transparent a state is in its justice department, campaign finance disclosures, budgeting process and most importantly the condition of the organizations in the state which monitor ethics issues. Pennsylvania does have an Ethics Commission, however its funding has been cut in recent years.

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Local
1:56 pm
Mon March 19, 2012

Busting School Board Buyouts

Legislation before the Pennsylvania Senate could heavily impact the way school districts do business with their superintendents.

Senate Bill 1296, sponsored by Sen. Jeffrey Piccola (R-Dauphin), was approved unanimously this week by the Senate Education Committee. The bill would limit the value of buyouts for public school superintendents as well as cap superintendent contracts at 3 to 5 years.

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Economy
9:53 am
Mon March 19, 2012

Mr. Corbett Goes to Dusseldorf

Governor Tom Corbett is in Europe this week to promote Pennsylvania business and tourism.

The governor is scheduled to visit Paris and Lyon in France, as well as Stuttgart and Dusseldorf in Germany. Corbett will meet with Pennsylvania businesses that have overseas branches, and speak with hundreds of potential foreign investors. He'll also tour various facilities in both countries.

Political science professor Terry Madonna of Franklin & Marshall College said a trip like this is business as usual for governors across the country.

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Environment
9:31 am
Mon March 19, 2012

State Holds Nutrient Credit Auction

Wastewater treatment plants operating in the Susquehanna and Potomac watersheds have the chance to buy nutrient credits at auction Wednesday.

Nutrient credits allow "regulated entities," typically wastewater treatment plants, to stay within the legal limits of nitrogen and phosphorus discharges. One nitrogen credit is equal to a pound of nitrogen taken out of a watershed.

The auction will be hosted by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST).

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Government
9:23 am
Mon March 19, 2012

Health Care Referendum Passes Committee

Pennsylvanians could see a referendum by next year's primary to opt out of the federal health care mandate.

The legislation, which passed the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee along party lines, would amend the state constitution to block any penalties to those who do not purchase health care insurance, as required by the federal Affordable Care Act.

The bill's sponsor Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson County) said he's not trying to debate "Obamacare."

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Science & Technology
8:24 am
Mon March 19, 2012

Pitt Researchers Make Bandwidth Discovery

A University of Pittsburgh research team believes transmitting data through fiber optics could be one thousand times faster.

Dr. Hrvoje Petek, a professor of physics and chemistry at Pitt, and Muneaki Hase, a professor of applied physics at the University of Tsukuba in Japan, partnered to create a fiber optic frequency comb, improving the speed information could travel.

Petek said people use fiber optic technology daily.

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Health
7:42 am
Mon March 19, 2012

This Week is Wildfire Prevention Week

Governor Tom Corbett has proclaimed this week as Wildfire Prevention Week in Pennsylvania. According to the state Bureau of Forestry, nearly 85 percent of Pennsylvania's wildfires occur from March to May.

Chris Novak, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), said the amount and severity of wildfires varies depending on weather.

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Economy
7:02 am
Mon March 19, 2012

Cracking Down On Food Stamp Traffickers

Pennsylvania Inspector General Kenya Mann Faulkner testified before a congressional panel that the state is trying to end fraud in the welfare system and protect the integrity of the food stamp program.

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is examining fraud within the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly known as food stamps.

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Science & Technology
10:56 am
Sun March 18, 2012

Vocal Seminar Teaches Worshippers to Sing, Speak Correctly

More than 80 worship leaders are set to meet with experts at the University of Pittsburgh's Voice Center on Sunday for a seminar on vocal health.

Voice Center Associate Director Jackie Gartner-Schmidt said many religious leaders experience vocal strain when delivering long, emotional sermons.

"We're rarely paying attention to how we speak and the emotions of what we're saying," said Gartner-Schmidt. "Especially in worship team, praise team, and worship leading, sometimes the emotion and speaking loudly, we can get a little carried away and our voice can take a hit."

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Environment
5:46 pm
Fri March 16, 2012

Flash Flood Season Approaches

April showers bring — flash floods. The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency advises the Commonwealth's residents to plan ahead to prevent damage and danger for the spring season.

PEMA Chief Deputy Director, Robert Full, says 18 people died last year because of historical amounts of rainfall that turns into flash floods.

"It's just so critical that our residents take seriously, just for a few moments, how important it is to be prepared," Full said.

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