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Local
6:56 pm
Tue October 25, 2011

Dog Adoptions Halted at Area Shelter after Virus Scare

Dog adoptions and drop-offs are on hold for at least 5 days at the Animal Rescue League in Pittsburgh because of a case of Canine Parvovirus.

About two weeks ago a stray dog was brought to the shelter. Shortly after, it became sick and was diagnosed with the virus. Parvo is highly contagious and can live in the environment for up to a year.

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Local
6:54 pm
Tue October 25, 2011

School Vouchers Move in Harrisburg

The Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee has approved a measure that contains a limited school vouchers program and charter school reform. The measure could be called in the full Senate later this week.

The plan restricts school vouchers to students from low- to middle-income families who live within the district of one of the state's 143 failing schools. Sponsor Senator Jeff Piccola (R-Dauphin) called the plan "vastly scaled back," and argues it's not as if the reforms leave failing schools with no public funding.

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Local
5:29 pm
Tue October 25, 2011

Bill Aims to Encourage Commercial Development in Pittsburgh

Prospective commercial developments in Pittsburgh may be given an encouraging nudge through tax abatement legislation introduced in City Council on Tuesday.

Councilman Bill Peduto's "Pittsburgh Stimulus Plan" would give budding commercial developments the same tax exemptions that residential projects enjoy.

Under the bill, both residential and commercial developments would be completely tax-free for two years, with tax obligations rising slowly for the next eight years.

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Government
2:31 pm
Tue October 25, 2011

County Council Members Call for Investigation of Public Defender’s Office

Allegheny County Council members William Russell Robinson and Amanda Green Hawkins will introduce a motion calling on Chief Executive Dan Onorato, County Manager Jim Flynn and Allegheny County Chief Public Defender Michael Machen to meet publicly with the council about the system.

This follows a scathing report from the ACLU claiming that Allegheny County fails to provide adequate legal representation to poor criminal defendants. Robinson said with thousands of people in the county depending on the legal representation, this poor level of service is unacceptable.

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Local
2:29 pm
Tue October 25, 2011

Parents May Have to Say Yes to Kids Tanning

A Pennsylvania Senate committee has approved a bill to regulate teenagers' use of indoor tanning salons. The measure would require minors to have a parent or guardian with them before using a tanning facility for the first time. Anyone younger than 14 years-of-age would need a doctor's written permission to use tanning beds.

In February, the American Academy of Pediatrics called for tanning booths to be off limits for all minors, but Senator Pat Browne (R-Lehigh County) doesn't think an outright ban is necessary.

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Transportation
8:58 pm
Mon October 24, 2011

PennDOT Builds Floodgates in Pittsburgh

Construction will begin Tuesday on a floodgate system on Washington Boulevard and Highland Drive aimed at preventing the same type of tragedy that took the life of four people earlier this year.

"We've been designing the project for the last several months and we anticipate starting construction this week and wrapping it up in the first part of 2012, hopefully by January," said PennDOT District 11 Executive Dan Cesna.

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Economy
8:21 pm
Mon October 24, 2011

Pittsburgh Area Businesses Learn the Ins and Outs of Marcellus Shale Supply Chain

It takes a lot of players to get natural gas from the ground to the marketplace. That was the message of a one-day seminar in Cranberry Township which helped regional businesses learn how to get into the supply chain. Natural gas development goes beyond drilling and extraction; the Marcellus Shale Coalition said more than 400 businesses are part of any one well development.

"There is a lot environmental, water management, land management, manufacturing opportunities, transportation and logistics," said Kathryn Klaber, President of the Coalition.

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Local
6:31 pm
Mon October 24, 2011

Citizens Marcellus Shale Commission Weighs In

A panel billing itself as the counterweight to the governor's Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission has released its own set of concerns and recommendations for natural gas drilling policy in Pennsylvania.

"The rules are disjointed and lack cohesion. By capitalizing on loopholes, waivers, inadequate regulations, and piecemeal processes, the industry has increased its bottom line at the commonwealth's expense," said Citizens Marcellus Shale Commission member Roberta Wilson. Wilson is also a member of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania.

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Local
5:09 pm
Mon October 24, 2011

South Side Nightlife Draws More Scrutiny

Following two shootings and a police officer struck by a suspected drunk driver Saturday night, the South Side's nightlife has again become an issue the city must deal with according to one Pittsburgh councilman.

Bruce Kraus, who represents the South Side emphasized it isn't his place to enforce changes, but rather Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's office, which he feels has remained stagnant on this matter.

"Again, I'm going to argue that our role as council members are to advocate and to legislate, but we do not administrate," Kraus said.

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Local
4:54 pm
Mon October 24, 2011

Washburn Square Park: New Model for a Shrinking City?

Washburn Square Park in the North Side officially opened Monday. Fifteen years ago it was the site of 46 dilapidated rowhouses; now there are three single-family homes and an open greenspace.

The Brightwood Civic Group sought funding originally to replace the old homes with 17 dwellings, but the Urban Redevelopment Authority had another idea.

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Local
9:00 am
Mon October 24, 2011

Harrisburg Bankruptcy Sparks Act 47 Review

Last week, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed legislation aimed at better equipping the state as it deals with distressed municipalities that are having problems implementing a fiscal recovery plan. The change has prompted lawmakers to look for ways to fix the law designed to help all of Pennsylvania's financially troubled cities.

Local government experts say more cities across the commonwealth will find themselves in fiscal dire straits and the state's Act 47 program needs to change if it's going to help.

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Local
9:00 am
Mon October 24, 2011

Senator Wants to Make Reporting Human Trafficking Easier

The Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline number would be posted in a lot more public places in Pennsylvania if State Senator Daylin Leach's (D-Montgomery, Delaware Counties) measure is approved by the legislature.

Senate Bill 338 would require the posting of the number in establishments with liquor licenses, massage parlors, spas, hotels and motels, places of transit, and adult entertainment clubs.

Leach says human trafficking is an incredibly inhumane act.

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Local
9:00 am
Mon October 24, 2011

Citizen Panel to Draw New City Council Borders

Pittsburgh has begun the process of realigning its Council Districts to fit the demographic data of the 2010 Census.

Each of the nine Council Members has nominated one constituent to sit on a reapportionment commission. The nine-member panel is charged with analyzing the latest Census information and drawing appropriate political boundaries based on the statistics.

Corporate lawyer and District 5 nominee Kevin Acklin said several neighborhoods have experienced population declines over the past ten years, including Homewood and Larimer, as well as some North Side areas.

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Local
9:00 am
Mon October 24, 2011

Group Looks for More Oversight in Education Initiative

A left-leaning think tank is skeptical that the governor's plan to expand the state's Education Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program will work. The Keystone Research Center said they want to see the program audited and academic performance monitored.

The EITC initiative gives tax credits to businesses that fund private school scholarships and public school extracurricular programs.

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Arts
3:47 pm
Sat October 22, 2011

Past Comes Back to Life at Preservation Fair

Antique buffs came together at the Carnegie Museums in Oakland Saturday for the 2011 Preservation Fair, bringing artifacts and heirlooms — as well as considerable expertise — in tow.

Carnegie Mellon librarian Charlotte Tancin is one of the organizers of this year's fair. She said it's important for the public to understand preservation.

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Local
6:56 pm
Fri October 21, 2011

Keeping Up With Sustainability In Pennsylvania's Working State Forests

A tanker truck hauling drilling wastewater rumbles by on a gravel road. The road parallels Pine Bottom Run, a fast moving waterway in Tiadaghton State Forest in north central Pennsylvania. This morning, two foresters with DCNR are busy testing the stream.

Ben Gamble and Luke Ulsa are collecting baseline information on streams near Marcellus gas sites. Well pads were just built on the ridge above Pine Bottom. Around 400 wells are on state forest land, with as many as 20,000 wells projected in the next 30 years. So far, Gamble says there are no signs of trouble.

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Local
6:17 pm
Fri October 21, 2011

State Remains Stagnant in Providing Extracurriculars

Pennsylvania received a 3 out of 5 score in a public advocacy group's assessment of how well the state provides extracurricular programs to continue education for students after school hours.

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Local
5:29 pm
Fri October 21, 2011

Hearing on Impact of School Budget Cuts

Pennsylvania's House Democratic Policy Committee held a public hearing today (Friday) in Greentree to consider the impact education budget cuts are having on communities in Western Pennsylvania.

Representative Matt Smith, a co-chair with Chelsa Wagner and Dan Deasy, said education is an area that shouldn't have been cut and Governor Tom Corbett could have avoided doing so by using the $800 million surplus from the previous year and by enacting a reasonable Marcellus Shale severance tax.

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Local
5:04 pm
Fri October 21, 2011

Importance of Rivers Touted at Pittsburgh Waterways Symposium

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett addressed the final day of the 2011 Fall Waters Symposium, an annual event that focuses on the nation's working waterways. He said rivers are an essential part of the nation's economy and transportation system.

"If our country is a living body, these rivers are its veins. They connect our cities through industry, that's why we need to maintain them, to develop them, to recognize them as the lifeline they are," said Corbett.

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Economy
4:19 pm
Fri October 21, 2011

Pennsylvania Unemployment Rises for Fourth Straight Month

Pennsylvania's unemployment rate is still lower than that of most states, but the Commonwealth's jobless numbers are inching toward the national average.

The state's Department of Labor and Industry reports an unemployment rate of 8.3% for September, up more than a percentage point since May. The U.S. unemployment rate has held steady at 9.1% during that time period.

The state lost nearly 16,000 jobs over the span of a month. Government employment took the biggest hit, shedding 8,300 jobs since August.

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Local
1:42 pm
Fri October 21, 2011

Rally to Demand Firing, Prosecution of Police in Jordan Miles Case

Throngs of black-clad activists will continue the "Justice for Jordan Miles" campaign in Market Square on Saturday.

Hundreds are expected to gather there to demand the firing and prosecution of three Pittsburgh police officers for what they call the "horrific and brutal beating" of 18-year-old CAPA student Jordan Miles last year.

Brandi Fisher, Chairwoman of the Alliance for Police Accountability, said the rally coincides with the 16th National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality. Protesters will don black clothes in solidarity with victims of police violence.

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Environment
10:00 am
Fri October 21, 2011

County Wants Safe, Environmentally Friendly Recreational Fires

As the temperatures begin to drop, residents of Allegheny County start to take advantage of their outdoor fireplaces, fire pits, and chimineas.

County Health Department Spokesman Guillermo Cole said that's a great idea, but people should know the restrictions.

"Our [county] regulations generally allow the use of such outdoor burning units because it's considered recreational burning, but we do have some requirements that do apply to their use," Cole said. "For example, you should only use dry, clean wood in wood burners and not use any garbage or debris."

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Local
7:04 pm
Thu October 20, 2011

Pittsburgh Police Reform Bills Signed into Law

Police accountability legislation that had been debated in Pittsburgh City Council for more than a year has finally become law.

In Homewood on Thursday, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl signed the last of four bills that supporters say will discourage inappropriate use of force by police officers.

Ravenstahl said the signing was a symbolic move toward better relations between the community and the police.

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Local
5:16 pm
Thu October 20, 2011

Raja Releases Plan for Allegheny County Senior Citizens

Republican candidate for Allegheny County Executive D. Raja has released a policy plan that he says will improve quality of life for senior citizens.

"I started my own business, and when you ask me, 'What is the most valuable asset?' it's clearly the employees, and when you ask me 'What is the most valuable asset in the county?' I would say it's our seniors," said Raja.

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Local
3:40 pm
Thu October 20, 2011

Voter ID Opponents Gather Strength in Pennsylvania

People representing older voters, black voters, and voters with disabilities say a measure making its way through the Pennsylvania Legislature would put an unnecessary barrier between the individuals they represent and the polling place. Opponents of the bill say Pennsylvanians that fall into several categories who most need to have their voice heard in politics are also among those most unlikely to have state-issued photo ID's.

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