News

So What Exactly Is An Ethane Cracker?

Sep 8, 2016
Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

  When Shell announced earlier this year it would be building an ethane cracker facility in Beaver County, it no doubt left many people wondering—what the heck is an ethane cracker?

Longitude Latitude / Flickr

Residents of the Hill District, Uptown and West Oakland will soon qualify for a free course that could help lead to union jobs through the Community College of Allegheny County. The course will help those seeking a union apprenticeship refresh the math skills needed for an interview.

A grant from Pittsburgh Mercy's foundation McAuley Ministries will cover a minimum of 15 students’ $109 course fee.

CCAC’s Vice President for Workforce Development, Teresa Bryant, said the grant comes at a time when union jobs, such as construction, are in higher demand in the region.

Russell Lee (Public Domain), via Wikimedia Commons

Roughly 100,000 retired coal miners across the U.S. are collecting pensions, but there isn’t enough money left in the system.

Some coal miners are planning to rally in Washington D.C. Thursday in an effort to convince lawmakers to release nearly $300 million in federal funds needed to shore up deleted pension programs. About 12,000 retired miners in Pennsylvania stand to benefit from it.

Keith Srakocic / AP

 

In Pennsylvania, seven out of 10 workers don't have a college degree. That's a demographic that has been particularly hard hit by unemployment and wage declines since the 1980s. 

Nic Lehoux / Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy

The brand new Frick Environmental Center will open its doors to the public on Saturday.

The new facility, near the Beechwood Boulevard entrance to Frick Park, is the most environmentally friendly municipal building in the world, according to Scott Roller with the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy. He said it is on track to achieve LEED Platinum and Living Building Challenge certifications.

Doug Kerr / Flickr

Pennsylvania’s auditor general is painting a no-win picture with his most recent audit of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

While Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said the turnpike is doing well when it comes to controlling spending and managing its money, he said there are structural problems in place that could eventually lead to the collapse not only of the turnpike, but also of much of the state’s transportation system.

Is It Just Me, Or Are There A Lot Of Dragonflies This Summer?

Sep 7, 2016
Vicki DeLoach / Flickr

To help us tell stories about how weather and climate change are affecting our region, The Allegheny Front has partnered with iSeeChange—an online climate and weather journal where people can post observations or questions about what’s going on around them.

This summer, I had my own question: Why am I seeing so many dragonflies in Pittsburgh? In fact, recently when I was in the middle of the city, sitting in traffic, two were mating on my car windshield. I don’t remember seeing anything like it before.

doctyer / Flickr

 

Local entrepreneurs are planning to celebrate Pittsburgh's alcohol heritage with two proposed museums.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh’s bicycling community is in shock after Dirty Dozen founder and local cycling legend Danny Chew suffered a fall from his bike that could leave him paralyzed from the waist down.

Chew’s nephew, Stephen Perezluha, said the family is still awaiting further information from doctors about whether Chew will ever be able to walk again.

Justin Wier / 90.5 WESA

Rich Lattanzi said he never aspired to be the mayor of Clairton.

He worked as a pipe-fitter for U.S. Steel, but serving as an athletic director for the basketball program at a local Catholic school and working as a baseball coach brought him into contact with the city’s youth. He voiced some concerns at a city council meeting and someone told him they could use him in the mayor’s office.

“I said, ‘I don’t know anything about politics,’” Lattanzi said. “And I remember the guy said, ‘Exactly, that’s what we need.’”

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Gov. Tom Wolf's administration said it will save $214 million over the next three years by changing health benefits and long-term non-paid leave rules for government employees.

“This is the first health plan design change in over 12 years for the state and the changes represent the most significant health plan savings in Pennsylvania in recent history,” said Spokesman Jeff Sheridan.

Much of the savings will be generated through having employees and retirees in PPO plans cover deductibles and make co-pays for some in-network services and prescriptions.

AP

The National Labor Relations Board recently ruled a virtual charter school in Pennsylvania should be classified as a private corporation, not a public institution. The decision only directly impacts that one school, but it could have farther-reaching legal implications.

PennDOT / AP, file

Last week, 47- year-old Kevin Ewing kidnapped his estranged wife at gunpoint. At the time, Ewing was under home confinement on charges he held 48-year-old Tierne Ewing captive and assaulted her for nearly two weeks in June and July.

Following Tierne Ewing’s abduction on Aug. 30, Washington County and state law enforcement officials fanned out around Findley Township to search for them. The search ended that night when Kevin Ewing shot Tierne and himself as state troopers approached a barn where he had taken her.

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

By 2050, 70 percent of the world's population will be living in cities, according to a United Nations estimate. Mayors could be more influential than ever.

That's why it's important to start training city leaders now, says Jorrit de Jong, faculty director for the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative

Ed Ogle / flickr

When blood donation centers in Pennsylvania received the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s recommendations for universal Zika virus testing, Central Blood Bank medical director Darrel Triulizi wasn’t surprised.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

The University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health has announced the recipients of the first round of funding for its Cura Zika initiative.

Six research projects that interrogate three different approaches were chosen to receive the $400,000 in funding. Two researchers are looking at ways to diagnose the virus, two are trying to understand how the virus causes disease, and two are pursuing vaccine technologies.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

An independent investigation into the Pittsburgh Police chief’s appearance at the Democratic National Convention has found no violation of city code. The Office of Municipal Investigation’s findings were released Friday.

After investigators reviewed city code, conducted interviews and reviewed emails, they found complaints against Chief Cameron McLay “unfounded.”

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Smoke enveloped the Liberty Bridge this afternoon after sparks fell onto plastic piping below and caught fire. Workers were torching beams to replace the bridge deck, says Scott Fennell, a laborer with Joseph B. Fay Company. There were no injuries, but Fennell said the incident would cost them time.

The final phase of the bridge deck replacement began August 29 as part of the $80.8 million Liberty Bridge Rehabilitation Project.

Biden, Kaine To Speak In Pittsburgh Before Labor Day Parade

Sep 2, 2016
Molly Riley / AP

 

Vice President Joe Biden will speak before Pittsburgh's Labor Day parade along with the man Democrats hope will succeed him, Tim Kaine.

The vice presidential nominee and Biden will speak at 9 a.m. Monday before the annual parade kicks off.

Jaclyn Rothenberg, a Hillary for PA campaign spokeswoman, says Biden and Kaine will "celebrate the contributions of American workers and organized labor" and promote Hillary Clinton's economic plan.

 Liquor Reforms
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

A Wegmans supermarket in Cumberland County has become the first such store in the state to sell wine. And the inaugural bottle was purchased by none other than Governor Tom Wolf.

Wolf was joined by state House Speaker Mike Turzai, as well as members of the Liquor Control Board and other lawmakers.

Turzai played a significant role in supporting the state’s liquor expansion, which went into effect early last month.

He says the change was a long time coming — it’s been commonly called the commonwealth's biggest liquor reform since prohibition. 

Can A Computer Algorithm Be Trusted To Help Relieve Philly's Overcrowded Jails?

Sep 2, 2016
Emma Lee / WHYY

 

Of the roughly 7,400 people sitting in Philadelphia's jails right now, more than half of them aren't there because they've been found guilty of a crime.

They've been accused of one and are waiting for trial. Many of them just can't afford to pay bail.

That's what happened to Joshua Glenn.

When he was 16 years old, Glenn was arrested for allegedly shooting another guy in the arm — a crime he says he didn't commit.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

90.5 WESA’s weekly news program The Confluence – where the news comes together – debuts Friday.

Each week reporters, editors and bloggers join veteran journalist and host Kevin Gavin to go behind the headlines taking an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region. 

    It is Labor Day weekend! Are you lucky enough to have a three-day weekend? If so, WESA’s Josh and Sarah and Yelp Pittsburgh’s Rachel are here to fill you in on the weekend’s fun activities, here in Pittsburgh and just around the (three) riverbend!

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

When Chico Ficerai’s son admitted he was addicted to heroin, she turned to her church. The prayer and support helped, but she needed more guidance.

Virginia Alvino / WESA

The City of Pittsburgh honored the life and career of former Mayor Bob O’Connor on Thursday, the ten-year anniversary of his death.

Mayor Bill Peduto organized the memorial on the front steps of the City-County Building, bringing together friends, family and colleagues of the late mayor. Some guests wore original t-shirts and buttons from O’Connor’s campaign.

Peduto said he met O’Connor 25 years ago, early in his own career.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Advocates from Lawrenceville-based advocacy group Bike Pittsburgh said a fatal accident this week between a motorist and cyclist could have been prevented.

Lindstrom in Uniform
File Photo / U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Retired U.S. Army Colonel Bernard Lindstrom will take the helm at the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority on a temporary basis. The PWSA board named Lindstrom its interim executive director at a special meeting Thursday after its initial choice for a permanent director withdrew his name from consideration in July.

Lindstrom comes to the Authority after 25 years in the U.S. Army. He most recently served as Commander of the Army Corps of Engineers’ Pittsburgh District from 2013 before retiring in July. His initial contract with PWSA will last through March 12.

Son of Groucho / Flickr

  Pittsburgh police Chief Cameron McLay wants more non-emergency calls referred to civilians trained to take police reports over the phone to free up patrol officers for more proactive police and community relations work.

But the new policy has its critics on City Council who believe it's better for officers to take reports in person.

Wolf Still Searching For New Environmental Chief

Sep 1, 2016
Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

 

More than three months have passed since the controversial resignation of Pennsylvania’s environmental secretary, John Quigley, and Governor Tom Wolf is still looking for a permanent replacement.

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