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Economy & Business
7:25 am
Mon April 7, 2014

Land Bank Proposal Outside Of Pittsburgh Builds Speed

While a proposal to create a land bank in the city of Pittsburgh is getting bogged down by controversy, a similar plan that would include 40 municipalities in the Mon Valley and eastern reaches of Allegheny County is hurtling ahead without much dissention.

The Twin Rivers, Turtle Creek Valley and Steel Valley Councils of Governments began the process of creating a land bank program shortly after Gov. Tom Corbett signed enabling legislation in December of 2012. 

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Energy
3:30 am
Mon April 7, 2014

PA Public Utility Commission Adopts Requirements For Clearer Disclosures From Suppliers

This winter was a harsh one, with days of bitter cold temperatures that caused many households to turn up the thermostat.

Because of the high demand, many consumers who’d signed up for variable rate pricing plans had a nasty shock when their bills increased dramatically. Now the Public Utility Commission is stepping in to try and ensure customers understand what they are signing up for.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:26 pm
Sun April 6, 2014

Monday Rundown: Congressman Murphy on Mental Health Care and the GM Recall

We discuss the hearings and manufacturer recalls of the popular Chevy Cobalt, as well as select Saturn and Pontiac vehicles.
Credit Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

These topics air Monday April 7, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. To leave a question or comment before or after the show dial 412-256-8783. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002. More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.

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Government & Politics
5:18 pm
Sun April 6, 2014

Legislature Expected To Clarify Who Must Report Child Abuse

Proposals to change how suspected child abuse must be reported in Pennsylvania are nearing the finish line after stalling for several months.

Two measures are awaiting final votes in the House and Senate to clarify who must report child abuse and how they should do it. But a plan that originated in the state Senate would now exclude lawyers from the list of people who will be mandated reporters, after House lawmakers voiced concerns about breaching attorney-client privilege: should lawyers be mandated reporters if filing a complaint could violate the trust of their client?

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Environment
4:59 pm
Sun April 6, 2014

Climate Change Not So Sweet For Maple Syrup

Third generation syruper Jason Blocher works in the sugar house at Milroy Farms, Salisbury, Pa.
Credit Julie Grant / The Allegheny Front

Maple trees could be in trouble in the Northeast U.S. in the coming decades. Federal climate models have predicted the region will lose most of its maples by next century. But producers don't seem worried: maple syrup prices are high, and with technology, the sap is flowing just fine.

Jason Blocher’s livelihood each year largely depends on the weather in February and March. He’s the third generation in his family to run Milroy Maple Farms in Somerset County, on Pennsylvania’s southern border, just a few miles from Maryland.

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Pennsylvania
8:13 am
Sun April 6, 2014

Dispute Over Disabled Man's Care Magnifies Guardianship’s Complexities

Nancy Pantoni is contesting decisions made by a court-appointed guardian for her disabled son, Dominic. He is pictured here, on the left, at a dinner with his mother and brother, Vince, about five years ago.
Credit Alexandra Kanik / PublicSource

Rarely is there so much tension — or so much at stake — around giving someone hope for a family reunion as in the case of Dominic Pantoni.

Every month, Dominic intently waits at the door of his group home for his mother to arrive, and he immediately asks her, “When’s the next hearing?”

A court hearing, in Dominic's eyes, means going home, or at least leaving a place that he calls prison, said his mother, Nancy Pantoni. She has been trying since 2010 to change legal guardianship of her 27-year-old son, who has intense special needs because of a genetic disorder.

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Community
7:43 am
Sun April 6, 2014

'Mayor's Night Out' To Give Residents A Chance To Meet With Peduto And Staff

Mayor Bill Peduto is having a “night out” to meet with Pittsburgh residents and address their concerns about the city with help from his staff.

“Mayor’s Night Out” aims at increasing transparency in city government and encourages civil engagement.

“This is just the next step — meeting with residents one-on-one to hear their concerns, and he’s going to be doing this throughout the year, and throughout his term, and he’s also going to be meeting with them here in the city county building as well,” said the mayor’s spokesperson Tim McNulty.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:38 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

How North Allegheny Schools Are Getting Kids Excited About Exercise

Students at North Allegheny Intermediate School run on treadmills as a part of their aerobic fitness training.
Credit Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

  

In an effort to combat the rising obesity rates in Allegheny County, physical education instructors in the North Allegheny School District have taken steps to ensure students coming out their system are devoted to lifelong fitness.

Dave Schmidt, the district's Health and Physical Education Department chair, said that over time his department has shifted from a team sports-based curriculum to one that focuses on lifetime exercise activities.

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Environment & Energy
3:32 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

Gas Drilling Impact Fee Revenue Up 11 Percent This Year

The state expects to bring in $224.5 million in impact fee revenue from natural gas drillers this year.
Credit Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

Pennsylvania expects to collect $224.5 million in impact fees levied on natural gas drilling companies this year– an 11 percent increase over the amount collected last year.

The state’s 2012 oil and gas law, Act 13, charges drillers for each well. The fee can range from $40,000 to $60,000 per well, depending on the price of natural gas.

This year, drillers paid $50,000 for new horizontal wells– up from $45,000 last year because the price of gas increased. Smaller, vertical wells paid $10,000.

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Arts & Culture
3:20 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

Forum Aims to Re-Energize Darfur Movement

When South Sudan separated from the North to form an independent country in 2011, the fight didn’t end.

In fact, it may be stronger than ever.

In an effort to promote advocacy, the Pittsburgh Darfur Emergency Coalition (PDEC) is hosting a forum on South Sudan and Sudan on Sunday.

The event will bring together members of the Sudanese diaspora in Pittsburgh and speakers, including Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Forest Hills) and Jacqueline Burns of the U.S. State Department, to discuss developments in Sudan and how to reenergize the Save Darfur movement.

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State Government
3:07 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

Lawmakers Introduce Bill To Allow State-Owned Universities To Go Independent

Legislation that would allow universities to separate from Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) has been introduced in the state Senate, and that might cause an increase in tuition for some students. 

If SB 1275 is signed into law, any of the 14 state-owned universities that have enrollment over 7,000 students and the adequate finances would be eligible to secede

According to PASSHE spokesperson Kenn Marshall, allowing universities to leave the State System could be detrimental to students.

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:50 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

Allegheny County Live Well Project Shows Students How to Bring Healthy Habits Home

Dr. Karen Hacker
Credit Ryan Loew / 90.5WESA

Nearly 1 in 3 school age children in the Pittsburgh region is overweight or obese. Last January Allegheny County launched the Live Well project to improve the health of county residents, particularly students, through health and fitness. It’s one of the leading health initiatives undertaken by Dr. Karen Hacker, Allegheny County’s Health Department Director.

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:25 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

A Conversation on Food and Physical Education for Allegheny County Students

(L-R) Curtistine Walker and Erika Lavelle are two of the many workers trying to help students in Allegheny County become fit and active.
Credit Marcus Charleston / 90.5 FM WESA

The major components of living a healthy life are learning about and eating healthy food and the importance of physical fitness. 

With 54 schools in the Pittsburgh Public School System and nearly 26 thousand students, getting them fed requires planning and adherence to government guidelines for nutrition.

In some cases, the food for Pittsburgh public schools is prepared offsite, at a facility in the South Side. 

Curtistine Walker, director of food service for Pittsburgh Public Schools explained “the only schools that receive meals from the satellite site, or I guess you could call it our plant, are those schools that don’t have full service kitchens and right now, there’s probably about 20 that don’t.”

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Environment & Energy
1:19 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

Results Mixed In 2012 Natural Gas Drilling Emissions Data

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has released annual emissions data for Marcellus Shale natural gas production for 2012. Emissions are tracked each year in an effort to assess air quality in the state.  

“The data shows two decreases and four increases in pollutant categories from natural gas emissions,” said DEP spokeswoman Morgan Wagner. “However, overall, total air contaminate emissions across the state have continued to decline.”

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Health
12:15 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

Food Inspections OK At Pitt-Johnstown After Campus Hit By Norovirus

Officials at the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown say state inspectors found no food safety problems as investigators continued to trace the source of a norovirus that has sickened 176 people.

An online report by the state Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Food Safety showed no violations at the campus dining hall and other food outlets operated by Sodexo Inc.

The state Department of Health earlier this week cleared the school to reopen.

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Community
7:56 am
Fri April 4, 2014

City Makes Push for $30M Grant for Larimer

A small army of Larimer residents and city officials went on the offensive Thursday in an effort to convince the federal government that Pittsburgh is worthy of a $30 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“I want to win this,” said Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, who met with a small group of HUD officials early Thursday before turning the effort over to his representatives. 

“It would not only bring $30 million into Pittsburgh but (the redevelopment of Larimer) would become a national model of sustainable housing development,” Peduto said.

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90.5 WESA Celebrates
3:30 am
Fri April 4, 2014

Joyce Rothermel, Following a Calling to Feed the Hungry

Joyce Rothermel
Credit Debbi Casini Klein / 90.5 WESA

Read and listen to a story about Joyce Rothermel as part of a series honoring the individuals who make a difference in people’s lives: 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference.

A study that was done in 1977 at the University of Pittsburgh on the instances of hunger in Allegheny County documented 48,000 people experiencing hunger — that is, going without food for a 24-hour period.

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Essential Pittsburgh
12:56 am
Fri April 4, 2014

Friday Rundown: New Approaches to K-12 Health and Fitness

Finding better health options for area school kids
Credit Lance Cheung/USDA / Flickr

These topics air Friday April 4, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA with guest host, Kevin Gavin. To leave a question or comment before or after the show dial 412-256-8783. More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.

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City in Transition
9:22 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

Pittsburgh Lands Highly Regarded Candidate for Planning Department

The City of Pittsburgh has landed a highly regarded candidate to head the Department of City Planning.

Ron Gastil formerly served as planning director for Seattle and director of the Manhattan office for the New York City Department of City Planning. He said he is excited about the new administration.

“One that has a combination of real commitment to neighborhoods, and a big picture vision,” Gastil said. “It is also a city that is excited and believes that you can plan your built environment and plan your communities, and address questions of sustainability and equity.”

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:03 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

Time Will Tell When it Comes to the Benefits of E-Cigarettes

One of the several ecigarettes available.
Credit Lindsay Fox / flickr

Some view e-cigarettes as a means to help them stop smoking. This is one reason for their increase in popularity. However, they may not be a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes. They’ve also been blamed for a number of poisonings nationwide.

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Transportation
3:27 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

E-Bike Legislation Could Put Cyclists On The Road

A new bill that passed unanimously in the state Senate this week would allow riders of pedal-assist electric bicycles to drive their vehicles in the streets.

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Matt Smith (D-Allegheny/Washington), would legalize e-bikes under the state vehicle code.  

“We’ve seen in Western Pennsylvania a lot of e-bike users being pulled over by their local police departments because there is a misconception that it might be a moped or some other mechanized form of travel when in fact these are really essentially bicycles,” Smith said.

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Economy & Business
3:16 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

New Branding Aims To Support Pittsburgh's Growing Tourism Industry

VisitPITTSBURGH reports tourism is healthy and growing in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, with an estimated $55 billion in spending tied to the industry.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

At its annual meeting Thursday, VisitPITTSBURGH highlighted some of the successes in tourism in the last couple of years.

The national group Tourism Economics releases data on the industry; 2012 numbers were recently released for Allegheny County.

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Air Pollution
2:41 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

County Collects Woodstoves, Boilers to Reduce Pollution

Woodstoves and boilers might have helped keep homes warm over the winter, but they also could have harmed the environment.

That’s why for the second year, the Allegheny County Health Department is collecting old woodstoves and outdoor wood-fired boilers that do not meet the current national emission standards.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:15 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

Heroes Behind the Badge: Documentary Sheds Light on the Life of a Pittsburgh Police Officer

Pittsburgh police officer James Kuzak and his girlfriend Chris Okulanis.
Credit HeroesBehindtheBadge.com

Saturday night Drusky Entertainment is presenting the Pittsburgh premiere of Heroes Behind the Badge, a documentary that tells the stories of two officers who paid the ultimate price, as well as the stories of three severely injured officers.

One of those officers is patrolman James Kuzak, who was shot five times after responding to a home invasion call in the city of Clairton.

Brian Drusky of Drusky Entertainment has timed the showing such that it arrives three years after Officer Kuzak’s incident and five after the death of three Pittsburgh police officers. 

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Transportation
1:14 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

Corbett Administration Finalizes 2014 Transportation Projects

Gov. Tom Corbett's administration says it has finalized the highway, bridge and mass transit improvement projects that'll begin this year as a result of a landmark transportation funding bill he signed in November.

The administration said Thursday that about 250 highway and bridge projects and 50 mass transit projects will begin in 2014 as a result of the law. That puts the total at approximately 950 highway, bridge and mass transit projects beginning in 2014.

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