News

Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

In Jim Seagriff’s classroom at Taylor Allderdice High School, there are a half dozen furnaces and boilers. A small closet area is set up the way a basement would be. Goggle-clad teenagers adjust knobs on mock refrigerators.

These are HVAC students in the Career and Technical Education program.

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

For weeks, state lawmakers have been asking for more details about how Gov. Tom Wolf's tax proposals will affect their constituents. They recently got an answer from the state House GOP.

Via: Justdrivepa.com

In the past five years, 128 people have lost their lives in work zone crashes, and PennDOT’s “#Slow4Zone” campaign hopes to put a face to road workers to prevent more lost lives.

The campaign starts during National Work Zone Awareness Week from March 23-27. During the week PennDOT will be posting stories on their Facebook and Twitter pages of workers who have been a victim of or seen work zone crashes.

Courtesy Dianne Shenk

It’s been several years since Hazelwood’s last grocery store, Dimperio’s, closed. According to Chatham University food studies graduate Dianne Shenk, the neighborhood now officially qualifies as a food desert.

Kelly Strayhorn Theater

A delegation from The Pittsburgh Arts Council is in Washington, D.C. Monday and Tuesday to participate in National Arts Advocacy Day.

Monday will feature briefings and discussions, and on Tuesday arts advocates will meet with individual lawmakers. There are some long-standing issues facing the arts, such as funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, tax policy and arts education.

This year, there are a couple of new areas of focus including integrating the arts in veterans programs.

Veterans courts go above normal courts, offering veterans charged with non-violent crimes options for treatment for drugs and alcohol or other issues that could have led them to being charged with a crime. Legislation introduced in Harrisburg would increase the number of veterans treatment courts.

“Right now about 16 counties have those courts, but 50 do not. We would like to require it,” said Sen. Rob Teplitz (D-Dauphin).

Essential Pittsburgh: Sree Sreenivasan on Social Media Strategy

Mar 23, 2015
Flickr/muse_web

With the number of science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM jobs increasing at three times the rate of other industries, the Carnegie Science Center is encouraging schools and lawmakers to focus on improving the way students learn about STEM fields. We'll talk with Jason Brown, director of science and education at Carnegie Science Center joins us.

In this segment Brown offers a greater understanding of what constitutes as STEM education and STEM professions:

"STEM professionals can be not only the engineers and the scientists, but they can be the surveyors, the construction professionals, the welders… It’s a very wide range because the STEM skills that are required for the job are problem solving skills--it’s not necessarily science content knowledge.” - Jason Brown

Also on today's show we talk about the ins and outs of social media strategy with social media expert Sree Sreenivasan. Later, President-elect of the Allegheny County Medical Society Dr. Larry John tells us how to properly dispose of medicine.


In an attempt to draw attention to local businesses, Sustainable Pittsburgh coordinates days for “mobs” of consumers to be intentional with purchases and support stores committed to green practice and sustainability.

Sahar Arbab, a Green Cities Sustainability Corps fellow with Sustainable Pittsburgh, organized the most recent “Cash Mob” this past November in Ambridge. Fifteen businesses were involved in the day-long shopping spree. The organization is offering an opportunity for communities to apply to host a cash mob in June. 

On Monday, nearly 20 student organizations are expected to meet with community leaders at the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium in Oakland to announce the formation of a student-run diversity council.

The organization will work with university officials, students and the greater Pittsburgh area to bring attention to diversity-related problems, said Ernest Rajakone, senior advisor for Pitt’s South Asian Student Association and a diversity council student organizer.

Rajakone said there are dozens of ethnic and cultural groups at Pitt, but there is a lack of unity among them.

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Mike Stack is in Washington, D.C. Friday attending his first meeting as co-chair of the Military Affairs Committee of the National Lieutenant Governor’s Association.

Stack was asked to accept the appointment last month by NLGA chair Nancy Wyman, the lieutenant governor of Connecticut. Not only is this Stack’s first appearance as co-chair, but also his first meeting since being sworn in January.

On Thursday UPMC announced they would be acquiring Family Hospice and Palliative Care, Pennsylvania’s largest nonprofit hospice service into its health care system.

Family Hospice will be part of UPMC Community Provider Services. That means all 250 employees will become UPMC employees, although Family Hospice will continue to operate under the Family Hospice name. The acquisition also includes Presbyterian Senior Care.

Family Hospice and UPMC have worked together for the past 15 years. 

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh is often called a city of neighborhoods. Two of the most famous, perhaps, are Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. Fred Rogers was born on March 20, 87 years ago. Some of his show’s largest and best-known sets are thrilling visitors to the Heinz History Center — as Mister Rogers’ legacy goes on.

Raising a child is expensive, and not surprisingly, that cost has only increased over the past few decades. But tax relief to help families with children hasn’t kept pace with the increased cost.

The average cost of raising a child born in 2013 through age 17 is $245,340, according to the Department of Agriculture. That’s a 23 percent increase from 1960.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey cited a study from Pew that said weekly expenses for children have increased from $87 in the '80s to $148 in 2013 — a 70 percent increase.

Essential Pittsburgh: A Penn State Fraternity's Facebook Fallout

Mar 20, 2015
AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Two weeks after the Oklahoma State University fraternity scandal comes another. This time closer to home at Penn State where members of the Kappa Delta Rho fraternity are under investigation for a secret Facebook page containing nude photos, drug use and hazing. We get the latest on the investigation from Penn Live reporter Ivey DeJesus.

DeJesus outlined the points of comparison between the Oklahoma State fraternity scandal and the Penn State scandal, many of which revolved around the administrations' responses:

"Oklahoma University President David Boren came out immediately after the Sigma Alpha Epsilon matter broke. He spoke out and was very involved in it. I think people were waiting for [Penn State University President] Eric Barron to do the same." - Ivey DeJesus

Also in today's show, "Silence of the Lambs" director Jonathan Demme comes to town for the CMU International Film Festival, and Pitt Women's Basketball coach Suzie McConnell-Serio prepares to take her team to the NCAA Tournament.

Via: Happyacts.org

The weather is warming up, and maybe your demeanor is too. After a long harsh winter, this Friday brings the first day of spring and also the International Day of Happiness.

Three years ago the United Nations declared March 20 a day of happiness.

The city of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership announced Envision Downtown on Thursday, a public-private partnership that aims to create more “complete streets” downtown. That means a better experience for pedestrians, improved transportation and better use of land.

The state attorney general is asking state lawmakers for a budget boost.

Attorney General Kathleen Kane is asking for $97 million dollars — above and beyond the $95.5 million proposed by Gov. Tom Wolf in his spending plan.

The Senate Appropriations Chairman Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) asked whether he should take it that Kane approves of higher sales and income taxes that figure so prominently in Wolf's budget proposal.

"Are you willing to say you support his revenue package?" said Browne.

Kane didn't bite.

Carnegie Science Center Talks STEM on Capitol Hill

Mar 19, 2015

With the number of science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, jobs increasing at three times the rate of other industries, the Carnegie Science Center is encouraging schools and Pennsylvania lawmakers to focus on improving the way students learn about STEM fields.

During a Wednesday congressional briefing in Washington, D.C., science center representatives and educators outlined the Carnegie STEM Excellence Pathway, an initiative that launched in October to help schools evaluate and expand the way they teach math and science.

This week, Josh and Rachel sit down with Ya Jagoff blog creator John Chamberlain to talk about the history of the word jagoff, how yinzers from around the world visit Ya Jagoff to blow off steam, and mention a few upcoming events around the Burgh. 

Friday
Yellow Book Road: After  Hours at the Library 

Saturday
Shake Your Booties @ Stage AE (benefit for The Children's Home & Lemieux Family Center) 

Upcoming, April 2
Yelp's Under The Big Top at Children's Museum 

Essential Pittsburgh: Oil Train Safety with Senator Bob Casey

Mar 19, 2015
Jason Rogers/Wikimedia

Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey is pushing legislation that would bring emergency managers and technical experts together to improve training and equipment for emergency responders handling oil train derailments. Recent derailments have caused explosions and fires in recent months. Sen Casey joins us by phone from Washington.

Casey explains that the legislation he is sponsoring -- the Response Act -- would do several things:

"It would examine ... training issues, resource issues, funding levels, access to communication -- all kinds of information and subject areas that [the relevant agencies and technical experts] should review. ... This is particularly important to small communities that don't have the resources, sometimes, that larger communities do."

Also in the program, Pitt law professor David Harris talks about Pittsburgh's selection for a new Justice Department initiative, and travel contributor Elaine Labalme shares her favorite flower shows travel destinations.


Cities, boroughs and townships facing fiscal burdens they can’t dodge are cutting costs where they can.

For 25 municipalities last year, according to the Pennsylvania State Police, that meant dissolving the local police department. State troopers are left to pick up the slack, without a compensating boost in resources.

“If this trend continues, there will be stresses on the organization,” said State Police Acting Commissioner Marcus Brown, adding that since he took office in late January, four more local police agencies dissolved.

Michael Lynch / 90.5 WESA

Despite not having a professional team, basketball is expected to bring big bucks to the city of Pittsburgh this weekend.

Tourism agency VisitPittsburgh projects as much as $7 million will be pumped into the local economy thanks to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championships at the Consol Energy Center on March 19 and 21.

Adjunct professors at Robert Morris University (RMU) have voted overwhelmingly to form a collective bargaining unit to seek better wages, job security, and benefits.

Election results released Tuesday by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) show a faculty vote of 125-67 in favor of affiliating with the United Steel Workers (USW).

"I'm absolutely delighted by it," said Patricia Welsh Droz, who served on a six-member organizing committee of RMU instructors. "We're all delighted by it. But we're not surprised."

Mayor Bill Peduto recently traveled to DC for the National League of Cities and while there, he had a chance to meet with the President for two minutes. The Mayor told 90.5 WESA’s Essential Pittsburgh Host, Paul Guggenheimer, he wanted to make those minutes count, so he brought up two ideas for the city: autonomous cars, and localized energy.

Peduto told the President that Pittsburgh is the city for the autonomous car. With CMU’s research facilities, Uber’s dedication to developing the car, and Bombardier’s vehicle plant, Pittsburgh is the place to develop the technology.

Flickr user Robert Bratton

Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Stephen Bucar is advocating that police officers in Zone 5, which includes the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, be trained in animal behavior so they can properly respond to incidents involving dangerous animals.

The proposed agreement would also include training for zoo employees on the use of live firearms and tranquilizer guns.

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

Lidia Bastianich is a chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, host of a cooking show on PBS and a children's book author.

Her most recent book, "Lidia's Egg-citing Farm Adventure," teaches kids about the chicken and the egg, the way the animals should be treated, how the life cycle works and recipes for egg and chicken-centered dishes.

Bastianich said her grandchildren often asked about her childhood in northern Italy. She explained that recounting those memories helped inspire her book.

The city of Pittsburgh is looking for interns, and unlike in years past, all prospective interns must apply through the Department of Personnel and Civil Service Commission.

“It was not a centralized process or program at all," said Todd Siegel, director of the city's Department of Personnel and Civil Service Commission. "Each individual department should they have had a need for interns whether they be paid or unpaid went about securing their interns on their own.”

If they were paid, the personnel department was involved to process the paperwork.

The state's acting treasurer says the amount of money slated to pay the interest on borrowing is going up under Gov. Tom Wolf's budget, showing a growing reliance on short-term financing.        

Pennsylvania's cash flow problem has arguably worsened over the past year.

The Wolf administration got the OK to borrow $500 million from the state treasury to pay its bills. The latest round of borrowing builds on a $1.5 billion line of credit established by the Corbett administration last September.           

http://www.johnchampsey.com

Author John Hampsey grew up in Mt. Lebanon in the 1950s and '60s. In 1972 he left for college, and today he's a professor of Romantic and Classical Literature at Cal Poly.

But Hampsey revisits the Pittsburgh area and his childhood in his new memoir "Kaufman's Hill." In an interview, Hampsey said he began the book years ago, but other projects got in the way until 2004 following his mother's death.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

It’s a conversation heard around countless dinner tables or on the way home. What did you do at school today? The answer most often is nothing or "I don’t know" or "I played."

That one-sided conversation is common in early education students. Parents can try to talk to teachers during the shuffle of picking up their child, but that’s usually only slightly more productive.

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