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Local
5:17 pm
Tue December 6, 2011

Senate to Vote on Moon Commissary

After six years of planning and legislation, the new Moon Township Commissary has been cleared from a hold in the U.S. Senate and will be up for a vote soon.

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Local
2:58 pm
Tue December 6, 2011

IRS Seeks Refund Recipients

More than $6 million in unreturned tax refunds are owed to Pennsylvanians, according to the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS is encouraging taxpayers to visit its website to learn whether they are among more than 3,000 in Pennsylvania who may still have a refund check coming.

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Local
2:34 pm
Tue December 6, 2011

ACHIEVA Honors EPR Reporter

For 60 years, ACHIEVA, formerly Arc Allegheny, has been working to end the long history of isolation for children and adults with physical and mental disabilities in southwestern Pennsylvania through innovative programs and lifelong support systems.

Monday evening at the Sheraton Station Square, ACHIEVA presented its annual awards for everything from advocacy to awareness, and from employment to family support. Essential Public Radio (EPR)'s Behavioral Health Reporter, Erika Beras, was honored with the Excellence in Media Award.

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Local
9:08 am
Tue December 6, 2011

Pennsylvania Campgrounds Voted Among The Best

You might get a gift card for your favorite coffee shop, department store, or restaurant this holiday season, but a gift card for state parks? The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation of Natural Resources (DCNR) is offering gift cards so residents can more easily experience state parks.

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Local
6:37 pm
Mon December 5, 2011

New YMCA Pittsburgh Head Excited about the Future of the Organization

Rig Riggins will soon take the reins of the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh. He said that he's excited about working with the community.

Most recently, Rig Riggins was head of the YMCA in Spokane, Washington. There, he oversaw the largest capital campaign in that city's history, and expanded Y membership there from 11,000 to 46,000 members. He said that his first priority upon arriving in Pittsburgh will be to ensure that the Y continues its mission while he gets to know the area.

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Transportation
5:41 pm
Mon December 5, 2011

State IDs Get New Hologram

Pennsylvania's driver's license and identification cards just became more difficult to counterfeit.

PennDOT has added a new hologram feature to any newly-produced license that should make counterfeits even more apparent than before. PennDOT spokeswoman Jan McKnight explained the new addition.

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Local
4:26 pm
Mon December 5, 2011

Brick-and-Mortar Storeowners Cheer State's Plan to Collect Online Sales Tax

Pennsylvania booksellers who have long called for an "e-fairness" policy are commending the state's recent announcement about sales taxes. The clarification says that online, catalog, and phone retailers with some kind of physical presence in the commonwealth now will have to collect state sales tax.

Todd Dickinson has run Aaron's Books, a store in Lancaster County, for six years, and he has been pushing to get the state to make e-commerce retailers collect sales tax. Dickinson said that the latest clarification is a big shift.

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Local
3:15 pm
Mon December 5, 2011

Severe Weather Emergency Shelter Ready for Low Temperatures

Homeless people who don't typically use one of the other emergency shelters are encouraged to go to 620 Smithfield Street during especially harsh weather: temperatures of 25 degrees or less, freezing rain, heavy snowfall, low wind chills, etc. A 24-hour information line (412-779-1329) provides a recorded message as to whether the shelter will be open.

The Severe Weather Emergency Shelter in the Smithfield United Church of Christ at Smithfield and Strawberry Way, centrally located in downtown Pittsburgh, also provides food, clothing, health care, and counseling.

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Government
8:00 am
Mon December 5, 2011

State Senator Wants Large Non-Profits to Pay Real Estate Taxes

Following a hearing on the ongoing dispute between the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and Highmark, State Senator Wayne Fontana (D-Pittsburgh) said that legislative action needs to be taken to rein in non-profit organizations that, he said, are clearly driven by profit.

Fontana introduced a bill that would require some larger non-profits to pay real estate taxes on the assessed value of land owned by their organization. A similar bill was introduced a couple of years ago, but didn't go anywhere because of fears about how it would affect smaller non-profits.

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Local
8:00 am
Mon December 5, 2011

Carnegie Trees Celebrate Golden Anniversary

Six uniquely adorned 20-foot pine trees will be the star attractions at the 50th anniversary of the Carnegie Trees exhibit.

The Women's Committee of the Carnegie Museum of Art, which decorated the first trees in 1961, chose this year's theme: "Solid Gold: Classics that Endure," in honor of the golden anniversary. Barbara Granito is a Women's Committee member and Chair of the Carnegie Trees. She said that a strong 50-year history has made seeing these pines a special Pittsburgh experience.

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Local
8:00 am
Mon December 5, 2011

Local Salvation Army Enters “Grudge" Match with Cleveland

From now until January 31, Pittsburgh is in a battle with Cleveland to raise the most money for the Salvation Army. Last year, Pittsburgh raised $9,200 online, about $2,000 more than Cleveland. Contributors can use the Pittsburgh Salvation Army cyber kettle for the next two months.

Major William H. Bode, the western Pennsylvania divisional commander, said that this is a natural, friendly competition between two cities where everyone wins.

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Economy
9:07 pm
Fri December 2, 2011

Local Unemployed Residents Call on Congress to Extend Benefits

Friday's news that unemployment in the U.S. has fallen to 8.6 percent is a mixed bag for some local unemployed Pittsburghers. On the one hand, the falling rate is going in the right direction, and last month some 120,000 new jobs were created. On the other hand, the unemployment rate may be lower because more than 300,000 people left the workforce, according to Co-Director of The Mon Valley Unemployed Committee, Antonio Lodico.

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Local
8:20 pm
Fri December 2, 2011

Mellon Arena Plants Move to New Homes

Homewood and Beltzhoover will soon be home to about 250 shrubs that have been in the landscaping around Mellon Arena for years. Instead of going to a landfill as the site is redeveloped, community groups are transporting the plants to winter storage. In the spring, some of the plants will be used to beautify the neighborhoods, and some may be sold, with the proceeds going to benefit the communities.

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Government
8:04 pm
Fri December 2, 2011

Proposed State Law Would Crack Down on Internet Child Porn

State lawmakers and child advocates gathered in Pittsburgh on Friday to push for a law that would further crack down on child predators, by mandating certain government officials to report the locations of known abusers.

The proposed state legislation is named for Alicia Kosakiewicz, who was lured and abducted from her Pittsburgh home by an internet predator in 2002. He took her to Virginia, where he held her captive and repeatedly sexually abused her. Now in her early 20s, she's traveling around the country, pushing for a law to crack down on such predators.

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Government
2:32 pm
Fri December 2, 2011

State Commission Digs Deeper into Liquor Sales

Liquor sales will be included in the items of interest for a commission charged with examining which state services could be better handled by the private sector, though that doesn't mean that the liquor privatization proposal will move any faster this year.

The bill to close the more than 600 state liquor stores and sell some 1,200 private liquor licenses has the support of the House Majority Leader and Governor Corbett. But, even proponents say that the proposal's prospects for passing this year are dim.

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Environment
12:19 am
Fri December 2, 2011

Salts From Drilling, a Drinking Water Danger, Still Showing Up in Rivers

Standing on a catwalk over a pool of water near the banks of the Ohio River, Frank Blaskovich points at a series of pipes draining into the far end of the pool.

"There, that's the river water coming in," says Blaskovich, water treatment manager for Wheeling, West Virginia.

His job is to take water from the Ohio River and make it into safe drinking water for his city of 30,000. But since 2008, the Ohio has been too salty, so he's had to dilute it with groundwater from backup wells. Blaskovich doesn't like doing this, because each added step costs money.

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Local
9:06 pm
Thu December 1, 2011

Santa Fills a Port Authority Bus with Gifts Donated for Children

Tonight, Santa will be ditching his much-beloved sleigh for some new digs with more hauling capacity. As part of the annual Labor of Love/Stuff the Bus Toy Drive, he's riding a special Port Authority bus through the South Side to collect an estimated $15,000 in toys donated by local union members.

"It's very important. We have a lot of people who are out of work. This is labor saying that we are part of the community, and we want to help," AFL-CIO Community Services Liaison Joe Delale said.

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Government
7:30 pm
Thu December 1, 2011

Mayor Defends Plan to Borrow $80 Million

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl stood behind his $467 million operating budget proposal this morning, despite city council criticism of his plan to borrow $80 million over two years for capital improvements.

Councilman Bill Peduto has said that he wants to know what specific improvements that money will be funneled towards before accepting the largest bond allocation in Pittsburgh's history.

Ravenstahl said that his operating and capital budgets need to both pass unchanged.

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Local
6:35 pm
Thu December 1, 2011

Penn State to Give Bowl Money to Charity

Penn State University announced today that it will give $1.5 million from its share of postseason bowl game revenues to a pair of sex-crimes advocacy groups. The decision comes as university officials continue to grapple with the aftermath of sex abuse allegations against former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

The funds are part of a newly formed three-year partnership between the school and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

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Arts
6:17 pm
Thu December 1, 2011

First Night Pittsburgh Announces New Year’s Eve Lineup, Rusted Root Headlining

Pittsburgh's New Year's Eve celebration, Highmark First Night, announced the entertainment lineup for this year's family-friendly event. Headlining a concert to ring in the New Year will be Pittsburgh band Rusted Root. They'll be playing on the Highmark Stage starting at 10:45 PM. The concert will run right up to midnight for the count down to the new year. In addition, Cello Fury with special guests Bill Deasy and Bodiography Contemporary Ballet, and House of Soul will perform.

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Health
6:02 pm
Thu December 1, 2011

Pittsburgh Observes World AIDS Day

Pittsburgh residents and city employees are wearing red clothing and ribbons in commemoration of the city's third annual World AIDS Day effort, (PITTSBURGH) RED. More than 30 organizations are partnering to conduct awareness events and distribute 20,000 educational cards to the public and employees about AIDS/HIV.

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Local
2:38 pm
Thu December 1, 2011

Auditor General Jack Wagner Continues Fight for PLCB

The state Auditor General is taking another shot at the proposal to turn state liquor sales over to the private sector. There have been a few different estimates about how much the state could stand to make by privatizing its liquor system, ranging from one to two billion dollars in one-time revenue. However, Auditor General Jack Wagner said that those figures are pure speculation.

"What is the real number? No one knows what the real number is. And that's the point I want to make today. No one knows what that real number is," said Wagner.

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Government
2:24 pm
Thu December 1, 2011

State Senator Runs For Pennsylvania Attorney General

Montgomery County Republican John Rafferty has thrown his hat into the ring for a state row office that has been held by the GOP since it was made an elected post in 1980. The state Senator says that he is running for Attorney General, the state's top law enforcement official.

"I believe that the Republicans are often looked at as the 'law and order' party. And that bodes well for attorney general candidates or district attorney candidates. And I continue to carry that mantra and that banner as we go forth in this election," said Rafferty as he announced his candidacy.

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Local
8:29 pm
Wed November 30, 2011

First Lawsuit Filed in Sandusky PSU Scandal

The first civil suit stemming from allegations that former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky sexually abused young boys has been filed, and it was filed by a new accuser.

The suit claims that the coach abused the petitioner more than 100 times. The abuse is alleged to have happened in a Penn State locker room, on trips to Philadelphia, on a trip to a college football bowl game, and at the Sandusky home.

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Environment
7:49 pm
Wed November 30, 2011

“Tulips Will Be Just Fine”

If you're worried because you've seen cherry trees blooming in downtown Pittsburgh, magnolia buds about to burst, and tulip leaves coming up in the garden, put your mind at rest.

Mike Masiuk, director of the Penn State Extension in Allegheny County, said that there's a cherry tree cultivar that blooms in both fall and spring, and it's not unusual to see tulip foliage or magnolia blooms in a mild fall. He said that the growth that looks premature and vulnerable will make it through the winter and perform as expected in the spring.

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