News

Shell / flickr

After waiting five years, Beaver County has received the news from Shell Chemical Appalachia that a multi-billion dollar ethane cracker will be built on the site of the former Horsehead zinc smelter. The plant is expected to provide 600 permanent jobs when it opens. But what concerns has this development raised for environmentalists? We'll ask Allegheny Front reporter Reid Frazier.    

Mark / flickr

Since Pennsylvania legalized medical marijuana in April, many have wanted to tap into the industry. United States Cannabis Pharmaceutical Research and Development CEO Michael Patterson says while officials develop policies over the next couple years, interested businesses and individuals should begin to familiarize themselves with the Commonwealth’s cannabis laws so they can cash in when the time comes.

   It is a busy weekend here in Pittsburgh. Luckily, WESA’s Josh and Sarah and Yelp Pittsburgh’s Rachel are here to fill you in on your weekend plans.

Alexander Nordby / Flickr

As sexual assaults in the military increase, supporters of a bill aiming to protect victims are working to drum up support. 

Between 2014 and 2013, the number of reported sexual assault cases in the military jumped 11 percent, and 2013 numbers were 53 percent higher than in 2012, according to the latest numbers from the Department of Defense.

Rev. Xanatos / Flickr

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh said they have made a major discovery that could lead to new treatments for Parkinson’s disease.

Scientists have long known that people whose brains make too much of a protein called alpha-synuclein end up getting Parkinson’s, but they didn’t know why that particular protein was toxic to brain tissue.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Public Schools Board is expected to review claims that new Pittsburgh Superintendent Anthony Hamlet plagiarized a phrase in his resume and a statement to the press when his appointment was announced, spokeswoman Ebony Pugh said.

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

After a real estate company's bid to redevelop a 1-square-mile swath of forest in the southern Pittsburgh neighborhood of Hays fell through in the early 2000s, the landowner has now decided to sell Hays Woods at a vastly discounted rate to the city for use as a public park.

Pittsburgh's Urban Redevelopment Authority voted Thursday to pay $5 million to Pittsburgh Development Group II for the “whole bundle of sticks,” URA board chair Kevin Acklin said – including land ownership and mineral rights on a property once slated for strip mining and a racetrack and casino complex.

Flickr user Hitthatswitch

A lab worker at the University of Pittsburgh has contracted the Zika virus by accidentally sticking herself with a needle.

The Allegheny County Health Department reported the county’s fourth case Thursday.

According to a Pitt spokesman, the accident occurred on May 23. The worker developed symptoms by June 1 and returned to work on June 6.

In a statement, ACHD director Karen Hacker said, “there is still no current risk of contracting Zika from mosquitos in Allegheny County.”

Felipe Dana / AP Images

With concerns over the Zika epidemic in Brazil, 150 health experts have signed on to an open letter urging the World Health Organization to pressure Olympic officials to move or postpone the summer games in Rio de Janeiro.

Ronald Krall from the Center for Bioethics and Health Law at the University of Pittsburgh signed the open letter. He wants to see the WHO conduct a thorough analysis of the potential risks associated with holding the games in Rio.

Jamie / Flickr

Pennsylvania has used a prescription drug monitoring program and database since 1972 and it’s due for an upgrade.

“Although it was a prescription monitoring system, it was woefully inadequate,” said Michael Zemaitis, a University of Pittsburgh pharmaceutical science professor.

Brandon Glesbrecht / Flickr

The Pittsburgh Penguins are one game from clinching the Stanley Cup. And though city officials haven’t planned a victory parade, they are preparing for a potential win.

“Public works has been out there (Wednesday and Thursday) removing sofas and upholstery furniture, such as sofas and chairs, mainly in the open area,” said Chief Operations Officer Guy Costa.

A Pittsburgh city ordinance allows public works officials to remove some kinds of furniture from people’s porches and yards, so that they aren’t used in certain types of celebration.

Torkbak Hopper / flickr

In April, Governor Tom Wolf signed two executive orders that expanded non-discrimination protections to all state workers and state contractors based on their sexual identity, gender identity and gender expression. While this marks a progressive step forward for employees of the state, transgender Pennsylvanians still face challenges when it comes to health care access, legal assistance and workplace discrimination. Representative Dan Frankel (D-23) has introduced legislation to combat these problems, and Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania Physician General is a major advocate.

Rennett Stowe / Flickr

 

On the campaign trail, Donald Trump says the U.S. needs to take back its jobs from China, Japan and Mexico—although he hasn’t offered a plan on how to do that.

Meanwhile, labor unions and environmental groups are pushing a more specific path for creating American jobs: Fix the nation’s infrastructure. And not just highways. They’re talking about things like the electric grid, water systems and natural gas pipelines.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Two proposed trust funds would allow real estate developers to pay the city of Pittsburgh to build green spaces and stormwater management infrastructure if they’re not able to include those elements on the sites of new projects in Downtown or North Shore.

Pittsburgh City Council approved the creation of an Open Space Trust Fund and a Stormwater Management Trust Fund in two unanimous preliminary votes Wednesday.

Department of Veterans Affairs

There are more than 71,000 female military veterans living in Pennsylvania, according to recent numbers from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Pittsburgh resident Kayla Williams was recently appointed to become the director of the VA Center for Women Veterans by Secretary Robert McDonald. Williams, who is a former intelligence specialist in the United States Army and served as a Arabic linguist, is also the author of two books chronicling her deployment to Iraq and return home. “Love my Rifle More Than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army”, a memoir about her deployment to Iraq. And “Plenty of Time When We Get Home: Love and Recovery in the Aftermath of War.” She joined us to talk about her new role and the challenges facing female veterans in the United States.

Outgoing Chatham President Emphasizes Need For Global Education

Jun 8, 2016
Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

After 24 years as president Dr. Esther Barazzone is retiring this summer. During the two decades of her tenure the university has undergone a number of changes. One of the most notable was the admission of male undergraduates at the long time all-women’s school. We’ll discuss Dr. Barazzone’s career at Chatham when she  joins us, as the latest guest in our exit interview series.

Wolf Signs Bill Allowing Wine To Be Sold In Grocery Stores, Internet

Jun 8, 2016
Bradley C Bower / AP

 

A new law gives Pennsylvania consumers many more options about where to purchase their favorite varieties of wine.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Gardening can be expensive. Buying or renting tools for turning the soil, buying vegetable starts or investing in fancy lighting systems to start seeds at home, buying soil, compost and mulch – it all adds up.

But growing food at home doesn’t have to break the bank, said Jeremy Fleishman, coordinator of Grow Pittsburgh’s Garden Resource Center in Larimer.

David Holt / flickr

Speaking yesterday in London, British Prime Minister and EU-backer David Cameron compared leaving the European Union to detonating "a bomb under our economy." Nevertheless, Mr. Cameron is facing a growing tide of support for Britain leaving the EU. What is the likelihood a Brexit will occur? And what would the economic and political future of the EU look like without the UK? We'll put these questions to our guest William Adams, Vice President and Senior International Economist for the PNC Financial Services Group. He's speaking at a World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh Luncheon Panel Discussion next Monday entitled "The Brexit and the Future of Europe."    

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

  Anthony Hamlet admitted he fudged one detail in the five-page resume he used to score Pittsburgh Public Schools top job last month

Takashi Toyooka / Flickr

Reviewing a lengthy legal document can be a long and tedious task.

“Imagine looking at a computer screen for eight hours a day reading legal terms and trying to find the needle in the haystack,” said Alan Veeck, vice president of Denali Group, a Pittsburgh-based procurement service. “Doing that for eight hours makes your eyes bleed.”

LegalSifter, based in Lawrenceville, is offering an alternative. The program ContractSifter uses algorithms to extract certain terms and phrases from thick, wordy, legal documents, said CEO Kevin Miller.

Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board

Why do certain bottles of liquor end up in just one of Pennsylvania’s more than 600 wine and spirit stores? Attempting to find an answer to the question led Jacob Quinn Sanders to develop Boozicorns — a map listing those difficult-to-find bottles of alcohol that exist in only one location within the state.

Penguins' First Goalie Remembers Early Days Of The Franchise

Jun 7, 2016
Pittsburgh Penguins / NHL

What was it like to be a professional hockey goalie in the 1960s and 70s, facing 100 mile an hour slap shots without a mask, losing most of your teeth and enduring hundreds of stitches? We’ll ask former Penguins goalie Les Binkley, who debuted with Pittsburgh's NHL franchise in 1967.

What Will Happen To Wilkinsburg's 'Tiger Pride?'

Jun 7, 2016
Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Graduation at Wilkinsburg High School this year was a little more sentimental and bittersweet than in the past. The 2016 seniors were the final group to graduate from the school, as the district prepares to merge its students with Pittsburgh Westinghouse in Homewood.

Shell Finalizes Plan For Beaver Co. Plastics Plant

Jun 7, 2016
Scott Detrow / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The oil giant Shell on Tuesday gave the final go-ahead for construction of a major petrochemical complex in western Pennsylvania where ethane from the Marcellus and Utica shales will be used to make ethylene for the manufacture of plastics.

The long-awaited multi-billion-dollar plant will be built in Potter Township, Beaver County, about 30 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, Shell said in a statement from its unit, Shell Chemical Appalachia LLC.

Tianming Chen / Flickr

Sixteen student conservationists will work as rangers in city parks this summer if Pittsburgh City Council votes to accept a $700,000 grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation today.

Pittsburgh Parks Director Jim Griffin said members of the Student Conservation Association have volunteered at city parks for years, but now they could get paid for their work.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

State education officials wired Wilkinsburg School District $3 million in emergency funding last week to aid in middle and high school students transitioning to Pittsburgh Public Schools this fall.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

The Allegheny County Sheriff’s Department is partnering with the gun industry’s main trade group to encourage safe gun practices in Pittsburgh.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation provided the Sheriff’s Department with free cable gun locks to distribute to gun-owners, with officials saying it’s the best way to prevent firearm accidents.

The organization said it has provided 37 million locks to law enforcement agencies across the country, including to Norma Kutscher who owns a 380 Ruger.

Matt Rourke / AP

 

A survey of Pennsylvania superintendents and school business officials offers a bleak portrait of the state of education in the commonwealth.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council is set to give final approval Tuesday to a $125,000 settlement in the Jordan Miles case, potentially ending a six-year legal battle between the city and the young black man who accused three white city police officers of attacking him in 2010.

There’s been no public discussion of the deal reached between Miles’ attorney, Joel Sansone, and the city Law Department; City Council held a closed-door executive session on the matter before unanimously approving the deal in a committee vote last Wednesday.

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