Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh will be home to the largest open-door animal shelter in western Pennsylvania once the boards of two major nonprofits merge by Jan. 1, 2017.

Happy Birthday Josh! It’s Josh’s birthday weekend and Social Club is ready to celebrate. WESA’s Sarah and Yelp Pittsburgh’s Rachel have put together a weekend filled with beer, brunch and tacos for Josh. Care to join?

How The Steel Industry Uses Billions Of Gallons Of Pennsylvania Water

Sep 30, 2016
Sarah Collins / PublicSource

Atop a forested hill in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands, the smells of cooked coal and hot steel blend over the molten glow of a blacksmith forge.

That’s the work station for blacksmith Dennis Gilkey, a wiry 66-year-old with neatly cropped white hair and a bushy mustache. He was a farrier for 25 years, the work that coiled his fingers with arthritis. Gilkey began learning the blacksmith trade in 2001. It is less taxing on his body than shoeing horses, he says.

Harrisburg Shares In Autonomous Vehicle Testing Excitement

Sep 30, 2016
Commonwealth Media Services

Driverless vehicle technology has made its way to the state Capitol, complete with first-time passengers.

In Pennsylvania an autonomous vehicle went on display outside Pittsburgh for the first time since testing began.

Researchers made their way to the city of Harrisburg, with Mayor Eric Papenfuse among the first people take a ride.

Marcus Charleston / WESA

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

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

This week it was announced that beginning in December Pittsburgh will become a one newspaper town. We'll look at the impact the Tribune Review dropping its print edition has on the city's journalism landscape. Health issues are also in the news. We'll  discuss Governor Tom Wolf's urging of state lawmakers to combat PA's opioid epidemic and Mylan CEO Heather Bresch's  Epipen profits testimony on Capitol Hill. Our look ahead, looks back at golf legend Arnold Palmer.  

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

If you drive into Johnstown from the west, it’s hard to miss the flower boxes that line the streets. The boxes were originally made for a citywide celebration that has been long forgotten — but since 2006, the West End Improvement Group has been keeping them filled for the neighborhood all summer long.

“We started with 13 flower boxes that we had asked businesses in the West End to kind of adopt and take care of,” said Rose Howarth, who runs the all-volunteer organization.

New Imaging Technology Is Giving Chesapeake Bay Restoration A Big Boost

Sep 30, 2016
Forsake Fotos / Flickr

 The Chesapeake Bay has a big pollution problem. And multiple nonprofits and state and federal agencies—including many in Pennsylvania—are all working together to clean it up. It’s been a slow process so far. But recently, we got a chance to chat with the Chesapeake Conservancy‘s Jeffrey Allenby about how new high-resolution imaging is helping accelerate that restoration effort.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Public officials have installed between three and six water bottle filling stations in each the district's 54 schools after finding 141 water fixtures texted positive for elevated levels of lead.

States Suing Over Climate Change Plan Get Their Day In Court

Sep 29, 2016
Dennis Hendricks / Flickr


Climate change barely got a mention in Monday’s presidential debate, but it was a big week in the history of the nation’s climate policy.

On Tuesday, a panel of ten judges on a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. heard arguments on the Clean Power Plan — the cornerstone of President Obama’s effort to curb climate change.


In a decision that is expected to reshape the health care world in the midstate, a federal court has blocked a merger between Penn State Health and PinnacleHealth.

The ruling by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals caps a saga that stretched more than two years, when two of the largest health systems in the region first announced their plans to unite.

Rick Smith / AP

The Bethlehem company that makes marshmallow Peeps as well as Mike and Ike candies has filed a federal lawsuit claiming a workers' strike is illegal. 

Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union Local 6 workers walked off the job September 7. 

The lawsuit filed by Just Born Quality Confections says that violates a no-strike provision of a contract that expired June 18.

The company says the no-strike clause was still in effect until Sept. 18 under a contract extension. 

Jordan Brown / WITF

Penn State is dedicating an entire course this fall to one person: Donald Trump. 

The one-credit course called "Trump" allows students to meet for two hours a week to analyze the Republican presidential nominee's campaign, the democratic process and previous presidential candidates. 

The director of the university's McCourtney Institute for Democracy says the Republican is generating a great deal of support through unorthodox means and is discussing issues that raise questions about democratic politics. 

Evan Vucci / AP

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump plans to hold a rally in central Pennsylvania on Saturday.

His campaign website says it will be held at 7:00 p.m. at the Spooky Nook Sports Complex near Manheim, in Lancaster County.

Doors open at 3:00 p.m.  

His running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, is holding a rally in York, this afternoon. 

Vice President Joe Biden and first lady Michelle Obama campaigned in Pennsylvania this week for Hillary Clinton.

Pittsburghers Join Protests Against Dakota Access Pipeline

Sep 29, 2016
Julie Grant / The Allegheny Front

Efforts by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to block construction of an oil pipeline through lands that they consider sacred has drawn a broad coalition of supporters ranging from other indigenous tribes to environmental activists.


The Plum Borough school board has reinstated its superintendent after a law firm found administrators looked into reports and rumors that teachers were having sex with students.

The Levin Legal Group says administrators investigated reports of inappropriate contact and found insufficient evidence to fire Plum Borough School District Superintendent Timothy Glasspool.

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

A Pennsylvania congressman helped save the life of a man found unconscious in a Washington, D.C. office building. 

Republican Tim Murphy of Allegheny County helped the man Wednesday. 

Murphy and staffers were waiting for an elevator in the Rayburn House Office Building when it opened and a mail clerk was on the floor with a head wound suffered when he collapsed and fell.  

He performed CPR while others found a defibrillator, which a Capitol police officer used.

The man's breathing and pulse were restored. 

Andy Boenau / Flickr


More than in any other major Pennsylvania city, Pittsburgh’s young adults are living on their own instead of moving in with mom and dad.

Pittsburgh ranked 13th out of America’s 600 largest cities for the percentage of young adults aged 18 to 34 living alone, according to new data released Thursday in the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 1-year American Community Survey. Pittsburgh also ranked 45th in terms of the percentage of young adults living with roommates.

This New Machine Can Recycle Plastic Ad Infinitum

Sep 29, 2016
Kara Holsopple / Allegheny Front

 Plastic pollution is all around us. You can find it in everything from grocery bags blowing down the road to islands of plastic floating in the oceans. But new technology demonstrated at a recent green products expo in Pittsburgh is getting people to think differently about plastic’s lifecycle.

“So what we have here is a mobile plastic recycling installation,” says Dutch industrial designer Bart Bleijerveld, showing off the new gizmo. “We call it the Perpetual Plastic Project.”

US Army Corps of Engineers / flickr

The Allegheny County Health Department is attempting to cut the number of flu cases this season by offering four types of vaccines, all injection-based.

Allegheny County Health Department Director Karen Hacker said the vaccinations are all available at the department’s clinic in Oakland.

This year, it will not offer the FluMist nasal spray vaccine. Hacker said it was not as effective as other vaccines and is not recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Amongst some pretty worn-down storefronts in Sharpsburg, seven miles from downtown Pittsburgh, Memories Sportsman and Taxidermy Shop has operated since 1990.

In the musty, cluttered space, owner Sam Stelitano, 65, sells new firearms and collectable ones, like original Smith and Wesson’s and Civil War muskets. But look above the rifle-lined counters, and you see his real passion.

Flickr user Travis Estell

When Erie native Ida Tarbell was investigating John D. Rockefeller and his Standard Oil Company more than a century ago, she had to crisscross the country to search through public records and interview sources in person.

Her 19-part series in McClure’s magazine, titled The History of the Standard Oil Co., is credited as the first example of investigative journalism and had a direct influence on the 1909 antitrust lawsuit that eventually broke up the company.

How One Composer's Hearing Damage Inspired A Concert Series

Sep 29, 2016
Ben Tran

  In 2008, composer Daniel Fishkin's ears started ringing, and they never stopped. Doctors offered no solace besides, "You get used to it." In the absence of a medical cure, Fishkin vowed to find a creative solution. 

"I do not want to get used to my hearing damage — I want to use it."

Mel Evans / AP

Michelle Obama told supporters in Philadelphia on Wednesday that candidates don't change once they become president and that America "needs an adult in the White House."

The first lady never mentioned Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump during the rally at LaSalle University. But there was no question that she was warning voters that President Trump would be the same as candidate Trump.

"The presidency doesn't change who you are, it reveals who you are," she told the cheering crowd.

Margaret J. Krauss / Keystone Crossroads

Trib Total Media’s shift toward a digital-only model is playing out amid a larger narrative of an entire industry in transition.

Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front


The ramifications of the Obama administration’s recent decision to temporarily halt construction on the Dakota Access oil pipeline are being felt throughout the country– particularly in Pennsylvania. Industry executives worry about growing public opposition to pipelines, while activists have been encouraged by the success of Native American protesters.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review will produce its last print edition and become a free, digital-only publication, the paper’s parent company announced Wednesday.

Print operations will cease Nov. 30. The company's Pittsburgh newsroom will continue publication online from its North Shore offices led by senior editors Luis Fabregas, Jeremy Boren and Rob Amen.

A Giant Cheeseburger And The Fight Against Blight

Sep 28, 2016
Kara Holsopple / Allegheny Front

  What’s the best way to call attention to the issue of vacant lots in a community? An arts group in Pittsburgh’s North Side neighborhood of East Deutschtown has one idea: Build a giant cheeseburger sculpture on one.

George Pankewytch / Flickr


A Nestlé Waters representative stood before angry residents in a northeastern Pennsylvania fire hall earlier this summer and admitted defeat.

He told the Eldred Township zoning board — and more than 100 residents who attended — that the multinational corporation he represents was withdrawing its permit to drill for water underneath the town.

Carolyn Kaster / AP


A federal appeals court has reversed an earlier ruling clearing the way for a proposed merger between PinnacleHealth System and Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted an injunction sought by the Federal Trade Commission and Pennsylvania attorney general's office.

Hershey and Pinnacle said in a joint statement Tuesday that they were disappointed and would carefully review the decision.

Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

Composer Julia Wolfe, a Pennsylvania native, is among the 23 recipients of the 2016 MacArthur awards.

Wolfe has been a fixture on New York's downtown contemporary music scene since her days as a co-founder of the Bang on a Can collective. Last year she won the Pulitzer Prize for music for "Anthracite Fields," commissioned by Philadelphia's Mendelssohn Club.

Wolfe spoke with NewsWorks Tonight host Dave Heller.