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Government & Politics
7:13 am
Wed December 3, 2014

PA's Latest Legislative Session, By the Numbers

State lawmakers are spending the next month getting ready for the new legislative session beginning this month, lining up committee assignments and preparing the proposals they’ll introduce.

A bird’s eye view of the two-year session that just wrapped up in November finds that a total of 369 proposals were enacted.

House lawmakers introduced 3,610 measures (and 1,091 resolutions), and senators introduced 1,981 proposals (and more than 500 resolutions).

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Government & Politics
7:10 am
Wed December 3, 2014

Late Budget? Bill Would Halt Lawmakers’ Pay

A bipartisan duo of state senators is looking to make it a bit more painful for lawmakers to pass a late state budget — by putting top officials’ pay on the line.

Under the measure backed by Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny) and Sen. Rob Teplitz (D-Dauphin), a budget passed after the end of the fiscal year on June 30 would trigger a suspension of pay for state lawmakers, the lieutenant governor, the governor and his cabinet. A similar measure introduced in the latest legislative session suspended pay for only the governor and state lawmakers.

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Essential Pittsburgh
12:14 am
Wed December 3, 2014

Wednesday Rundown: The Psychological Impact of Brain Injury

Exploring the ways brain injuries can effect us psychologically.
Credit Ars Electronica / Flickr

These topics air Wednesday December 3, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

The Violent Death of Kosta Karageorge

Ohio State football player Kosta Karageorge, who disappeared last Wednesday, was found Sunday in a trash bin, the victim of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Research has shown that football players are three times more likely to develop chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) which can leave its victims depressed, disoriented and suicidal. We'll talk with reporter Andy Chow who has been following this story.

Concussion Research

In the wake of the death of Kosta Karageorge, we'll focus on the link between suicide and concussions with Erin Reynolds, a doctor in neuropsychology for UPMC's Sports Medicine and Concussion Program. Could college football programs be more proactive when it comes to helping players who are dealing with concussion issues?

10 Years of New Voices in Pittsburgh

This week, New Voices Pittsburgh Women of Color for Reproductive Justice celebrates 10 years as a human rights organization in the Pittsburgh region. Initially the grassroots group had some trouble defining themselves and their mission. How do you advocate for reproductive justice when most people don’t understand what that term means? But as they’ve partnering with organizations such as the Women’s Law Project, and brought attention to the treatment of incarcerated women in the state prison system, NVP has carved out a more defined mission and area for growth. We’ll talk with LaTasha Mayes, Founder and Executive Director of New Voices Pittsburgh, about what reproductive justice means for communities in the region and how grassroots organizing is evolving. 

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Arts & Culture
5:24 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

ARAD Approves Largest Budget in 20-Year History

The Allegheny Regional Asset District will allocate more than it ever has in its 20-year history to organizations and projects in 2015.

The Board of Directors of the ARAD approved a $93.7 million budget Monday that details the distribution of $89.3 million in operating grants and $4.4 million in capital grants to a total of 90 nonprofit or government agencies.

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Pets
5:20 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Legislation Aims to Protect Pets from Extreme Cold, Heat

If it’s too cold for you outside, then it’s too cold for your pet.

That’s the message Councilwoman Darlene Harris is sending Pittsburghers with the two pieces of legislation she introduced Tuesday.

The first piece of legislation would fine cat and dog owners a maximum of $500 dollars for leaving their pets outside for a long period of time when temperatures are below 32 degrees or higher than 90 degrees.

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Government & Politics
4:46 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Pittsburgh Department of Innovation and Performance Looks to the Future

Not even a year old yet, Pittsburgh’s Department of Innovation and Performance addressed 2015 budget requests at one in a series of City Council budget hearings Tuesday.

The department’s budget has a proposed increase of about $255,000, a 1.84 percent change. Salaries in the budget decrease by about 2 percent. Department Chief Debra Lam said in less than one year, Innovation and Performance has already done a lot – including updating the 311 system.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:40 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Black Friday is Not What it Used to Be: A Changing Time for Retailers

Credit David Haines / Flickr

Black Friday sales are down and Cyber Monday sales continue to increase. So, what is the biggest shopping day of the year? And what is trending in Pittsburgh?

We'll talk with Duquesne University marketing professor Audrey Guskey about the ways that times are changing for retailers. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:30 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

A Rebecca Harris Neighborhood Spotlight: Garfield

Credit http://pennavenue.org/

Cities are made up of a collection of neighborhoods with unique features and characteristics. On the first Tuesday of the month, business contributor Rebecca Harris will focus on one of the city’s neighborhoods. Today's focus is on Garfield.

Garfield is a neighborhood by Bloomfield and Friendship with a population of about 3675 people. Rebecca tells us more about what the city has to offer such as its  organic farms, Garfield Night Market, and a monthly art show Unblurred.

Essential Pittsburgh
2:22 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Big Plans for Tiny Houses in Garfield

A Minim Home in Washington, D.C. (cropped)
Credit Inhabitat Blog / Flickr

With plenty of vacant lots and green space, people in the Garfield neighborhood have come up with a plan to revitalize the area.

Could tiny homes attract residents and be the key to remaking the area? Joining us to share this vision for Garfield is Rick Swartz, executive director of the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation.

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Keystone Crossroads
8:06 am
Tue December 2, 2014

Regulated Tent Cities for Homeless Pondered But Improbable in PA

Frank Fairweather camped for three years beneath the Interstate 83 bridge in Harrisburg with at least half a dozen others at any given time. City officials recently closed the encampment.
Credit Image courtesy of Eric Weiss

Frank Fairweather says poor health forced him to quit truck driving just shy of his 50th birthday. He kept a roof over his head for a while but then one roommate was jailed for a parole violation, and the other skipped town.

Before he could find replacements, Fairweather fell behind on rent. He ended up joining several others camping under an interstate bridge near downtown Harrisburg.

Fairweather didn’t leave for three years, staying through winters and Tropical Storm Lee, until one night earlier this fall.

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Government & Politics
4:36 am
Tue December 2, 2014

City Council Digs Deeper into Making BBI its Own City Department

One of the items Mayor Bill Peduto ran on was making the Bureau of Building Inspection its own department, which would report directly to the mayor, rather than to the head of public safety. Such a move is intended to modernize the department, among other things.

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Community
3:30 am
Tue December 2, 2014

Peduto Joins With Mayors to Push Immigration Reforms

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said he will “not let congressional gridlock get in the way of progress” as he and more than 20 other mayors from across the country launched Cities United for Immigration Action (CUIA) Monday. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
10:36 pm
Mon December 1, 2014

Tuesday Rundown: Holiday Retail and Garfield Housing Trends

A photo taken from Herron Hill, of Bloomfield (in the foreground) and Garfield (the houses on the hillside), shows how the two neighborhoods seem to blend together. We'll talk about future plans for the little boxes on the hillside.
Credit Joseph / Flickr

These topics air Tuesday December 2, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays and Small Biz Saturdays and....

Black Friday sales are down and Cyber Monday sales continue to increase. So, what is the biggest shopping day of the year? And what is trending in Pittsburgh? We'll talk with Duquesne University marketing professor Audrey Guskey about the ways that times are changing for retailers.

Big Plans for Tiny Houses

With plenty of vacant lots and room for green space, the Garfield neighborhood has come up with a plan to revitalize the area. Tiny homes could attract residents and be the key to remaking the area. Joining us to share this vision for Garfield is Rick Swartz, executive director of the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation.

WESA Celebrates - Paul Abernathy

Four years ago, after graduating from the seminary, Paul Abernathy made it his mission to help people living in the Hill District. His efforts resulted in the opening of the thrift shop called FOCUS. It stands for the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve. It also stands for Food, Occupation, Clothing, Understanding and Shelter, which are needed in this community. Paul Abernathy is the profile subject of this week’s WESA Celebrates.

Business Segment - Garfield

Cities are made up of a collection of neighborhoods with unique features and characteristics. On the first Tuesday of the month, business contributor Rebecca Harris will focus on one of the city’s neighborhoods. Today's focus is on Garfield. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:43 pm
Mon December 1, 2014

Seventy Years of Public-Private Partnerships and Pittsburgh's Economic Development

The Allegheny Conference on Community Development has been responsible for many changes and advancements in Pittsburgh, including the completion of the Point State Park fountain in 1974.
Credit Zach Frailey / Flickr

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development.

The documentary "We Built This City: How the Allegheny Conference Remade Pittsburgh" chronicles the private-public partnership that transformed the city and the region.

The documentary was directed by our guest Michael DiLauro. We'll also talk with Bill Flanagan Executive Vice President of the Allegheny Conference talks about the past, present and future of the partnerships and the communities they serve.

Economy & Business
4:39 pm
Mon December 1, 2014

Film Studio Opens to Industry Representatives

Pittsburgh’s newest film studio is open for business – sort of.

Studio C, located in a 120,000-square-foot facility in Robinson, opened its doors to location scouts and studio representatives Monday as part of a soft opening, according to Cyndi Casteel, vice president of business development.

The studio won’t be open to the public for at least another week due to construction, but Casteel said the preliminary opening gives scouts a chance to plan their schedules for the upcoming year.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:36 pm
Mon December 1, 2014

Pittsburgh Businesses "On the Frontline" of Corporate Social Responsibility

The skyline of the Central Business District, which includes the headquarters of large corporate enterprises like BNY Mellon and U.S. Steel Corporation.
Credit Wally Gobetz / Flickr

  

Wall Street analysts are noting a growing trend of companies integrating sustainability and corporate social responsibility, known as CSR, with their traditional financial reporting.

A number of Pittsburgh companies are part of that trend. Joining us to address how this is making a difference in Pittsburgh are Lauren M. Odrechowski, Corporate Social Responsibility Specialist with BNY Mellon and Matt Mehalik, program manager for Sustainable Pittsburgh.

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Transportation
4:32 pm
Mon December 1, 2014

PennDOT Asks For Feedback

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has released a draft of its long-range transportation plan and is asking for public feedback.

“This is a plan that looks far into the future to help set the vision and direction for where we want our transportation system to go,” said PennDOT spokeswoman Erin Waters-Trasatt. “So it goes beyond a list of projects or future enhancements. It looks at things like where we want to go as a whole.”

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:31 pm
Mon December 1, 2014

Travel Contributor Elaine Labalme Offers Food Destinations for the Holiday Travel Season

The Big Poppa from Melt Bar and Grilled in Cleveland, OH.
Credit Leigh Kelsey / Flickr

Congratulations, you just made it through the biggest eating holiday of the year!

With the fridge full of leftovers, the last thing you probably want to talk about is food, right? Well, travel contributor Elaine Labalme, is here to talk about some food destinations in the region worth visiting.

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Government & Politics
3:34 pm
Mon December 1, 2014

This Week in PA Politics 12/1

Pennsylvania land banks in need of extra funds. Nearly two years since the beginning of state-mandated land banking in Pennsylvania, the seven established banks are suffering from a lack of proper funding, 90.5 WESA’s Mary Wilson reports. Looking towards well-funded land banking efforts in Ohio and New York, Wilson suggests the possibility of using tax dollars as well as money made from large bank settlements to fund the seven ventures currently operating.

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Environment
1:28 pm
Mon December 1, 2014

Sick Sea Turtles Recovering at Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium

Fourteen Kemp's ridley sea turtles will spend six to nine months at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium before being released back into the wild.
Credit Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Fourteen very sick sea turtles are recovering at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium after being stranded on the beaches of New England in what is being described as a “mass cold stunning event.”

The endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are just a few of the more than 900 that washed up on northeastern shores after becoming hypothermic as ocean waters cooled. They arrived in Pittsburgh last Sunday, from the New England Aquarium in Boston.

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Giveaway
7:34 am
Mon December 1, 2014

Enter to Win Our Omni Bedford Springs Giveaway

Omni Bedford Springs Resort

One lucky winner will win an Overnight Stay at Omni Bedford Springs Resort in Bedford, Pa. with Breakfast for Two in the Crystal Room.

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Health
3:30 am
Mon December 1, 2014

Task Force, Health Department Seek to Raise AIDS Awareness

According to the Allegheny County Health Department, one in six HIV-positive individuals are unaware they have the virus.

On this World AIDS Day, the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force and the health department are looking to reduce that number through outreach.

“You can make a big impact by raising awareness [because] it’s a preventable infection,” says Areej Ali, AmeriCorps member and volunteer coordinator with the AIDS task force. “Conversations matter, getting people to know about it, to protect themselves. Those things really make a difference.

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Environment & Energy
3:30 am
Mon December 1, 2014

Pennsylvania's State Tree is at Risk of Dying

The eastern hemlock has been dying in silence, being eaten alive by pests — but the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has developed a plan to intervene and save the state tree.  

“The eastern hemlock is perhaps the most valuable tree in our state woodlands,” said DCNR Deputy Press Secretary Terry Brady. “[The Hemlock is] the oldest evergreen when you look at a forest, and perhaps the most valuable in terms of what it provides.”

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Community
3:30 am
Mon December 1, 2014

Plans Move Forward to Restore Allegheny County Courthouse

One of the most iconic symbols in downtown Pittsburgh is set to undergo a series of renovations that will preserve its history and bring it up to date.

Allegheny County has selected the firm of Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff + Goettel to develop a Master Facilities Plan to restore the 126-year-old Allegheny County Courthouse.

The firm will assess the building’s heating, lighting, electric and security systems to determine what construction needs completed, according to Principal Sheldon Goettel.

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Essential Pittsburgh
10:20 pm
Sun November 30, 2014

Monday Rundown: Sustainable and Corporate, Pittsburgh Remade

Credit Martin Eckert / flickr

These topics air Monday December 1, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility

Wall Street analysts are noting a growing trend of companies integrating sustainability and corporate social responsibility, known as CSR, with their traditional financial reporting. A number of Pittsburgh companies are part of that trend. Joining us to address how this is making a difference in Pittsburgh are Lauren M. Odrechowski, Corporate Social Responsibility Specialist with BNY Mellon and Matt Mehalik, program manager for Sustainable Pittsburgh.

Remaking Pittsburgh

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Allegheny Conference. The documentary "We Built This City: How the Allegheny Conference Remade Pittsburgh" chronicles the private-public partnership that transformed the city and the region. The documentary was directed by our guest Michael DiLauro. We'll also talk with Bill Flanagan Executive Vice President of the Allegheny Conference.

Food Destinations

Congratulations, you just made it through the biggest eating holiday of the year. The fridge is full with leftovers and the last thing you probably want to talk about is food, right? Well, travel contributor Elaine Labalme, is here to talk about some food destinations in the region worth traveling to.

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Environment
3:30 am
Sun November 30, 2014

Bad Bug: Berks County Areas Quarantined to Fight Lanternfly

Five townships and two boroughs in Berks County have been placed under quarantine by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture in the fight against the Spotted Lanternfly, which was found for the first time in North America in the county earlier this fall.

The quarantine prohibits residents from moving any material or object that could help the spread of the insect, which attacks grapes, apples, stone fruits as well as pines.

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Looking Back
12:23 pm
Sat November 29, 2014

Vote for the Best of Essential Pittsburgh 2014

Credit sriram bala / Flickr

As the year comes to an end, we’re looking back on highlights of Essential Pittsburgh in 2014 and airing listener favorites. 

We've tapped into sounds and topics of the region, both in our studio and out in the community.

- Host Paul Guggenheimer got out on the ice for a curling lesson, just in time for the Winter Olympics.

Brett Keisel talked about playing for the NFL into his late 30s.

Dan Rather gave his take on journalism in the 21st century.

- Performance artist etta cetera married the city of Pittsburgh. 

- We talked with LeVar Burton about how his record-breaking Kickstarter campaign will help to encourage a new generation of readers.

- Our community forum with Mayor Bill Peduto and Acting Police Chief Cameron McLay bolstered a growing dialogue about community/police relations.

Tell us about your favorite Essential Pittsburgh guests and stories of the year. 

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Community
3:19 pm
Fri November 28, 2014

Salvation Army's Red Kettle Campaign Kicks Off in Western PA

While many will wake early on “Black Friday” with a shopping list in hand and sneakers laced to snag some deals at local retailers, a select few will awaken with a different goal in mind.

For volunteers of the Salvation Army of Western PA, the day after Thanksgiving marks the official kick off to the Annual Red Kettle Christmas Campaign.

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Government & Politics
3:11 pm
Fri November 28, 2014

End-of-Life Debate Picks Up, But Faces Tall Opposition in PA

Advocates for assisted suicide are promoting legislation that allows doctors to prescribe life-ending drugs to terminally ill patients who request it.

The national debate was set off earlier this month with the death of 29-year-old Brittany Maynard. She publicized her decision to take drugs to end her life after learning she had terminal brain cancer.

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Health
3:09 pm
Fri November 28, 2014

Allegheny Health Network Now Offers Drug to Prevent Re-Clogging of Arteries

The Allegheny Health Network is the first health system in the Pittsburgh region to offer a new medication called Lutonix to help those suffering from peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

Between 8 and 12 million people in the U.S. are affected by PAD - the hardening of the arteries from cholesterol and plaque buildup. It can obstruct blood flow, which could result in amputation or death if untreated.

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