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Gene J. Puskar / AP

The state police are facing shrinking ranks and a funding shortage as a slew of troopers approach retirement age.

Gov. Tom Wolf has proposed a $25 per-person fee for each of Pennsylvania's 2.5 million residents in nearly 1,300 municipalities that rely on state police coverage instead of a local police force.

Chelsea Beck / NPR

President Trump will address the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, on Friday at 10:20 a.m. ET, just outside of Washington, D.C. The conference is billed by its organizers as “the birthplace of modern conservatism.” As a candidate, Trump did not attend the annual gathering of conservative activists. Now, he will speak as the leader of a Republican-controlled government. NPR’s Politics team will be annotating a transcript of his remarks as he makes them.

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Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

A new film fest is coming to Pittsburgh.

The inaugural Black Bottom Film Festival will showcase contemporary, classic and independent black cinema this Friday through Sunday at the August Wilson Center in downtown Pittsburgh.

Joe Lewis of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust said there aren't enough platforms for black video, particularly locally produced and independent films. He said the jumping off points for selecting media for the festival, were the themes frequented by famed Pittsburgh writer August Wilson.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

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

Each week reporters, editors and bloggers join veteran journalist and host Kevin Gavin to take an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region.

This week’s topics include the recent nationwide rise in constituent-led town halls; interfaith support for, and the economic impact of, Pittsburgh’s immigrant residents; and bills proposed to combat the commonwealth’s opioid epidemic.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Sharon Serbin describes herself as a Jane-of-all-trades: an artist, a personal trainer, and most recently, a life skills counselor at the Center for Hearing and Deaf Services. Serbin lost her hearing in her teens, and has spent many years working in the hearing and deaf communities. 90.5 WESA’s Margaret J. Krauss interviewed Serbin as part of an ongoing series in which we speak with leading experts and people of interest in the Pittsburgh community. Their conversation has been edited for length.

 

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The Sprout Fund is collaborating with city and county leaders to help young black men build digital literacy skills and find jobs.

The City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and the Sprout Fund will partner together as part of the national My Brother’s Keeper initiative to connect organizations that work with youth to help close the digital divide and prepare men of color between the ages of 16 and 24 for the workforce.

Gerry Broome / AP Photo

Updated: 1:53 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27, 2017.

The Pittsburgh Public Schools District says it is committed to supporting transgender students and has not changed its nondiscrimination policy following the Trump administration’s move to rescind protections.

Hitcher / Flickr

Authorities say a trench collapse at Fitz Henry and Reduction roads in Westmoreland County killed a man working at the site on Wednesday.

The county coroner's office said 18-year-old Adam Skokut Jr., who graduated from Yough Senior High School last spring, was installing a sewer pipe at the South Huntingdon Township property at about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday when the trench began to fill with water.

He tried to escape but fell back into the nine-foot-deep trench, and the side walls collapsed, trapping him beneath tons of dirt.

Jacquelyn Martin / AP

On Feb. 17, 2016, Kelsey Williams got some devastating news.

“I went in for my routine anatomy 20-week ultrasound with my second child – my husband and I have a 4-and-a-half year old – and nothing had been indicated as anything but typical up to that point in the pregnancy," she said.

The National Council on Teacher Quality and the EducationCounsel
Nathan Forget / Flickr

The nonprofit that runs the needle exchange program in Allegheny County is leaving it's current location in Oakland. 

Each Sunday, as many as 75 intravenous drug users or their surrogates visit the Prevention Point Pittsburgh needle exchange program at the Oakland office. But the exchange will move to East Liberty in April.

The health department is moving its clinic and wasn't able to guarantee Prevention Point would be able to use those facilities on Sundays. 

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Fifth grader Jaylen Hocker popped up from his front row seat at the O’Reilly Theater. He walked onto the stage, held up a hand to block the bright theater lights from his eyes and waited for the OK from a panel of judges before he began. 

“He hath disgraced me and hindered me half a million, laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies. And what’s his reason? I am a Jew," he said, reciting William Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice."

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

At a people’s town hall in Washington, Pa., southwest of Pittsburgh, an audience of about 45 listened to Leeann Howell talk about how repealing the Affordable Care Act would affect her.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

The 7,200-square-foot yellow Sprint advertisement along Mt. Washington was deemed unlawful by the City of Pittsburgh’s Zoning Board of Adjustments last week. The city is now insisting the sign be removed.

Kevin Gavin / 90.5 WESA

Four years ago, Rev. John Welch, dean of students at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, was a strong supporter of Bill Peduto in his successful bid for mayor.

Four years later, Welch wants to unseat Peduto.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Gisele Fetterman, founder of 412 Food Rescue and Braddock’s free store, and wife of Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, was an undocumented immigrant for 10 years. She said she lived in New York City with her mother and her brother and dreamed of becoming a citizen one day.

The thing she looked forward to most? Jury duty.

Fetterman shared her immigration story Tuesday evening at an event she and her husband hosted at their home, meant to highlight the economic contributions of immigrants in the Pittsburgh region.

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council will take a final vote on Tuesday that would amend the city's existing noise ordinance to end late-night construction on private property.

Under current law, construction is restricted in residential zones from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The amendment would limit all private development to hours between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates there will be a shortage of as many as 94,000 physicians in the U.S. by 2025. Most of those physicians are in rural areas and inner cities, and the greatest shortage will be among general practitioners.

Pennsylvania Confirms First Fracking-Related Earthquakes

Feb 22, 2017
Mark Schmerling / FracTracker Alliance

Pennsylvania officials say they’ve confirmed the state’s first fracking-related earthquakes took place last year in Lawrence County, northwest of Pittsburgh. As a result, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is stepping up its requirements for drilling in that part of the state, which is known for seismic activity.

Republicans Eye Revenue Assumptions In Wolf's Budget

Feb 21, 2017
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Republican lawmakers are using budget hearings to question Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's assumptions for revenue from a minimum wage increase and a new tax on Marcellus Shale natural gas production.

Steelers' Joey Porter Fined $300 Over Dispute Outside South Side Bar

Feb 21, 2017
Pittsburgh Bureau of Police

Pittsburgh Steelers assistant coach Joey Porter has been fined $300 after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct stemming from a dispute with a bar bouncer and a police officer last month.

Porter entered the plea Tuesday in City Court in Pittsburgh, ending a case in which he originally faced a serious felony charge of aggravated assault for allegedly grabbing the officer's wrists outside a bar after a bouncer denied him entrance Jan. 8.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Residents facing eviction from Penn Plaza and their supporters rallied on the steps of the City-County building Tuesday afternoon, calling on the city to step up efforts to increase access to affordable housing.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

When a company grows and adds satellite offices, it can often be difficult for the main office to stay connected to its remote locations.

Pittsburgh-based company NetBeez connects each site.

“I was imagining, you know, a lot of devices that are buzzing in the network and having all these devices they work like a swarm,” NetBeez co-founder Panickos Neophytou said. “It was a network of bees, so NetBeez came to mind and that is when we adopted the name.”

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Recently, several of Renee Christman’s English as a second language students have asked her what the word “illegal” means.

Many of her students at Paynter Elementary School in Baldwin are refugees and she said they’re aware of President Donald Trump’s immigration orders and that their parents are concerned. Her students collectively speak eight languages and about 15 to 20 different languages are spoken in the Baldwin-Whitehall school district.

Wystan / Flickr

From Obama-era task forces to widespread protests, the idea of community policing has become part of our national conversation. 

On this week's episode of the Criminal Injustice podcast, University of Pittsburgh law professor and host David Harris talked to Jerry Clayton, the elected sheriff of Washtenaw County, Mich. Now in his third term, Clayton started overhauling the department of 400 officers eight years ago with service and sustainability in mind.

Interest In Small Game Hunting Dwindling Locally

Feb 21, 2017
Torrey Wiley / Flickr

Small game hunting can be a big challenge.

Some small game species have become scarce and so have hunters who like chasing after them.

Results from the California Hill Gun Club's 23 annual "Small Game Hunting Classic" held in mid-January offered a pretty clear reflection of the state of small game hunting in Pennsylvania.

About 150 hunters used to take part in the event in which cash prizes are awarded to teams that returned with the most rabbits and grouse, but this year's classic drew only 73 hunters.

Jeremy Keith / Flickr

This week, WESA’s Sarah Kovash, Josh Raulerson and Rachel Carlson of Yelp Pittsburgh hang out at 21st Street Coffee and Tea in the Strip District. This weekend is full of dance parties, beer and … Harry Potter.

Kick off the weekend with Pittsburgh Beerfest at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. It runs Friday and Saturday and features beers from around the country, as well as local brews from Yellow Bridge, 412 Brewery, Arsenal Cider, Church Brew Works and more.

John Bazemore / AP

Pennsylvania has the fifth most hate groups in the US—a title it’s now claimed for the second year running, according to a Southern Poverty Law Center study.

PixController via YouTube

Pittsburgh's pair of bald eagles apparently have a new egg a week after their nest was lost when the tree was toppled by high winds.

After losing the nest Feb. 12, the pair started to build a new nest near the old one in a tree on a hill overlooking the Monongahela River.

The Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania said Monday that without a clear view of the new nest from a webcam, observers have deduced the presence of an egg by the birds' behavior.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Declining enrollment is causing the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh to restructure some of its elementary schools.

Last weekend, Diocese officials announced that 10 elementary schools in the North Hills would be put under a single administration. The changes will go into effect next fall.

Bishop David Zubik said now, all 32 regional parishes will support those schools.

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