News

90.5 WESA

It’s back-to-school time in the region, and the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority, better known as ALCOSAN, is highlighting its role in the classroom.

The sewage and water treatment facility isn’t something automatically linked with schools, but for more than a decade, the authority has done educational outreach.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

More than 3,000 bikes line the floors and walls at Bicycle Heaven in Chateau. Just inside the entrance hangs a bike made entirely of wood.

“It’s called a boneshaker bicycle,” said owner Craig Morrow.

Past the gleaming Schwinns and Raleighs and the spot usually home to Pee-wee Herman’s iconic ride (it’s being repaired right now), Morrow points out two bikes from the turn of the 19th century, both with “lights” suspended from the cross bars.

Brian Donovan / Flickr

Pittsburgh has been selected as one of 10 cities to pilot the country’s first Resilience AmeriCorps initiative.

The Obama administration announced the action on July 9. Each Resilience AmeriCorps city will receive $25,000 to help build neighborhood resilience plans and initiatives at the community level in the form of a micro grant program. Each city will also receive dedicated AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America members.

courtesy A+ Schools

Rigorous course offerings and positive reinforcement for hard work creates a more healthy, successful school environment, according to Amy Scott, director of research and data analysis for A+ Schools.

The Pittsburgh Public Schools advocacy group released a report this week detailing its findings of what leads to a positive school climate. Scott said the group has trained volunteers to interview school staff members who remain anonymous since 2009. The interview data is compiled and a report released yearly.

Three weeks after rejecting Yellow Cab’s request to impose a surcharge of up to $8 per trip on weekends and holidays, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has tentatively approved two other fare increases for the taxi service.

The PUC rejected one provision of the request but agreed to a jump in the flag drop rate — the starting amount on the meter — from the current $2.25 up to $4 and a 30-cent-per-minute increase in the wait time rate. The charge to customers to have drivers wait will cap at be 55 cents per minute.

Chromos Cares Improving The Vision Of Pittsburgh Children

Aug 20, 2015
Matheus Almeida / flickr

The American Foundation for Vision Awareness estimates up to 25 percent of school-age children have vision problems that impair their academic performance. To combat this, Lawrenceville-based Chromos Eyewear is partnering with Pittsburgh Public Schools to provide students with proper eye care. Joining us for an in-depth look at the Chromos Cares program are Chromos Eyewear founder Daniel Childs and PPS assistant superintendent Dara Ware Allen.

The Unforgettable Trial of Harry K. Thaw

Aug 20, 2015
New York American / wikipedia commons

Long before O.J. Simpson, the court case referred to as the trial of the century involved a Pittsburgher. Harry K. Thaw stood trial for the murder of famed architect Stanford White as a result of his jealousy over the relationship between his wife,  model and chorus girl, Evelyn Nesbit, and White. We’ll mark the centennial of this trial with our pop culture contributor Joe Wos.

Mamma Mia!: Social Club August 21

Aug 20, 2015

Josh and Rachel are getting ready for back to school. Josh is entering 32nd grade and Rachel has her Lisa Frank backpack ready to go.

There is a lot going on this weekend in Pittsburgh, starting off with the Bloomfield Little Italy Days. This festival, voted one of the best Italian festivals around, features music, molto bene Italian food, bocce tournaments and more. It will run from Thursday to Sunday at 7pm.

Farmers Play New Role To Solve Rural Hunger

Aug 20, 2015
Kara Holsopple / The Allegheny Front

In a parking lot, a line of people carrying laundry baskets and empty shopping bags curls around a brick church building in rural Somerset County, southeast of Pittsburgh. This is farm country. But a lot of people here don’t have access to fresh produce.

People haven’t driven here to go to church. Today, the parking lot is doubling as a drop-off site for a food bank. Joetta Shumaker has placed her laundry basket on a shopping cart, and weaves her way through rows of folding tables.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Once a futuristic pipe dream, video calls are now so commonplace they not only help family and friends feel more connected, but allow medical professionals reach patients that in the past either would not have been seen or would have had to travel hundreds of miles for treatment.

One of the largest users of telemedicine is the VA Pittsburgh Health System.

How New Methane Emission Regulations Could Impact Pennsylvania

Aug 20, 2015
Genevieve Prentice / flickr

Environmentalists have spent years looking for ways to reduce emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Now new rules from the Obama Administration aimed at limiting emissions from the oil and gas industry could have a big impact on Pennsylvania. But are they necessary? We'll talk with Howard Feldman, Senior Director of Regulatory and Scientific Affairs for the American Petroleum Institute and Matt Watson, Associate Vice President of the Environmental Defense Fund's Climate and Energy Program. 

Flickr user John Marino

On Thursday evening, a required, routine emergency drill will be occurring at Pittsburgh International Airport. Officials want people to know so they are not alarmed, adding that the drill will not interfere with air traffic and will zero effect on travelers.

About 150 people including law enforcement from nearby municipalities and airport officials will participate in the four hour mock incident. The drill will start at 5 p.m.

looseends / Flickr

It’s part Chopped, part Guy Fieri’s Grocery Games, but with a local and educational twist.

Four students from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh’s culinary program will compete the in the first-ever Farmer’s Market Dash Culinary Challenge at the Green Tree farmer’s market Thursday afternoon.

Theme Parks And Rides To Make You Feel Like A Kid Again

Aug 19, 2015
Dave Herholz / flickr

While the amusement park celebrated in the 60’s pop song Palisades Park no longer exists, travel contributor Elaine Labalme says theme parks are alive and well. This week she takes us on a tour of some of the nation’s most exciting.

Why Doesn't Pennsylvania Have A State Fair?

Aug 19, 2015
Eve Hermann / flickr

Across the nation from New York to Alaska it seems like every state is showcasing the best it has to offer at a state fair. Well, that is every state but Pennsylvania. Why doesn’t the Keystone State have a state fair? Post-Gazette associate editor and columnist Jennifer Graham has been looking into the issue and shares her findings.

Lots Of Red Tape For Building Waterfront Projects In PA, But It Could Be Worse

Aug 19, 2015
Diana Robinson / WITF

Antonia Hinnencamp and a few friends are about to start a bike ride on the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail. The 6.5-mile paved stretch opened last spring, and Hinnencamp says she’s done it twice since then. She says it’s well worth the 20-minute trip from her hometown in Lancaster for such an ideal setting: flat, shaded, closed to pedestrians.

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

If pornographic office e-mails are at the root of the criminal charges filed against Attorney General Kathleen Kane, new court orders unsealed Tuesday show that she could have released them, in full, as early as last December.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court unsealed two orders Tuesday in response to Kane's comments last week that a grand jury judge is blocking her efforts to expose a chain of raunchy e-mails exchanged by prosecutors and judges.

Adam Lederer / Flickr

Many Pittsburgh area students will return to school this month, bringing long-dormant, flashing “school zone” signs back to life.

Studies show that obeying school zone speed limits can save lives. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 20 miles per hour is about two-thirds less likely to die than a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 30 miles per hour.

AAA East Central is asking drivers to be patient as kids and parents get used to new schedules and school buses return the roads.

Mike Richards

What do 3-D printers, laser cutters and sewing/embroidery machines have in common? As of Tuesday, they are all available for use inside the Carnegie Science Center’s Sportsworks building in the digital fabrication lab, or “fab lab.”

U.S. Department of Agriculture / flickr

Next month at Heinz Hall, former Steeler and decorated Vietnam veteran Rocky Bleier will perform a one man show about his life. It is described as an intimate portrait featuring highlights of Rocky's multi-faceted life as a four-time Super Bowl Champion, wounded warrior, family man and community activist. Rocky Bleier joins us in studio along with the man who wrote the play Gene Collier.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Now seven weeks late, state budget negotiations have prompted rallies and protests by community groups, non-profit organizations, service providers and citizens all imploring Gov. Tom Wolf and the General Assembly to come to a consensus.

The Grandparents Support Group added their voice to the mix Tuesday at a gathering outside East Hills-based A Second Chance Inc., an agency that serves children being cared for by relatives or family friends.

“We cannot do anything, not unless the budget is passed. Our children are our future – no budget, no future,” said Shirley Pinnock, a grandmother from Wilkinsburg.

Matt Rourke / AP Images

State Attorney General Kathleen Kane is facing questions for using the trappings of her public office in the course of defending herself against criminal charges.

Dauphin County activist Gene Stilp filed a complaint to the state Ethics Commission Monday, requesting an investigation into Kane’s use of public resources for what he sees as her own personal gain.

Bruce Fingerhood / flickr

Governor Tom Wolf released a report Monday by Dr. Allan Zarembski focused on the safety of Pennsylvanians and protecting people from the potential of Bakken crude oil train derailments. In the report, Dr. Zarembski presents 27 recommendations. He joins us by phone to discuss what they are.

 

Philadelphia Starts Small (And Cheap) With Delaware River Waterfront Revitalization

Aug 18, 2015
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

For a long time, Philadelphia's Delaware Riverfront was...underwhelming.

Each winter, the city operated a harbor-side ice skating rink. There were also summer concerts and festivals on the waterfront, bursts of life that would fizzle out as soon as the events ended.

But most of the time, people didn't venture down to the river. For one thing, getting to the waterfront requires finding a place to cross I-95, the 10-lane highway that cuts through the city.

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

A tentative proposal from Gov. Tom Wolf to change state pensions isn't sparking much agreement.

The governor has floated a "scenario" under which he would scale back retirement benefits for state and school workers, but top Republicans say the changes don't go far enough.

"It's just not even in the ballpark of what we would think we could acceptably sell to Republican members in the Senate," said Drew Crompton, chief counsel to GOP Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati.

Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group

Four out of 10 black people in Allegheny County wanting to buy a home are denied a mortgage. That's two times the rate of white applicants, according to data released Monday in the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group’s 21st Annual Mortgage Lending Study.

“The level of African American lending is extremely low compared to all other groups,” said Rachel Rue, researcher with the PCRG.

Brad / flickr

An Instagram post by Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison has rekindled a national discussion on whether we’re making our kids 'too soft'. The issue he addresses is the awarding of participation trophies to kids sports. Has this practice gone too far? We’ll discuss the issue with Aimee Kimball, Mental Training Specialist for KPEX Consulting and Ashley Merryman, author of the New York Times essay Losing is Good for You and the book Top Dog: the Science of Winning and Losing.

Note: There were inappropriate comments from a caller in today's live show that have been edited out from our website, podcasts and 8pm rebroadcast tonight. We apologize for the on-air error.

More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.

Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

City officials and the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy unveiled restoration plans Monday for the Westinghouse Memorial in Schenley Park.

The months-long restoration to the 85-year-old memorial will include a new storm water management system.

“The plan for controlling the water and sending it to the right places is a real important part of this,” said Meg Cheever, conservancy president.

Millennial Women Are Closing The Gender Wage Gap

Aug 17, 2015
Peter Tobia / PublicSource

Currently a freelancer, Philadelphia resident Jillian Ivey is faced with a dilemma about her future and identity as a young woman.

The 31-year-old communications strategist wants children with her husband of nearly three years, but she feels that being pregnant and caring for an infant would be a direct choice not to make money or build her career.

Expert Assesses Risk Of Oil Train Derailment In Pennsylvania

Aug 17, 2015
AP Photo/Matt Rourke

With as many as 70 oil trains rumbling across Pennsylvania each week, the administration of Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday released a series of recommendations meant to reduce the risk of a catastrophic derailment, including reduced speeds through cities, beefed-up track inspections and a call for trackside communities to plan for an emergency.

Pages