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The Pennsylvania House will take up a bill that makes some changes to the Child Protective Services Law. That is the law crafted after the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

“This is the bill that clarifies the existing statute requiring employees and adult volunteers who work directly with children to obtain criminal background check clearances and child abuse clearances,” said Rep. Katharine Watson (R-Bucks), the bill’s sponsor. “The legislation further delineates who is and who is not subject to those requirements.”

After years of waiting, avid skiers in western Pennsylvania may finally see their wishes come true. The Laurel Mountain Ski Resort will finally reopen in 2016.

Hopefully.

Terry Brady, deputy press secretary for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said the bidding process for Laurel Mountain’s $6.5 million renovation project will begin in the next 2-3 weeks, after which construction is set to begin this fall. If all goes according to plan, the DCNR aims to have it complete by fall 2016.

PA Group Takes First Steps To Protect Seniors

Jun 8, 2015
Connor Mulvaney / PublicSource

Statewide reforms to improve protections and justice for older Pennsylvanians are in the works.

A state Supreme Court committee is examining the proposed expansion of a rule that allows the courts to preserve testimony of victims who might not be available to testify if a case languishes in the system.

AP Photo/Marc Levy

Gov. Tom Wolf has pulled the nomination of Marcus Brown to lead the Pennsylvania State Police. The Senate was to vote this week on Brown’s nomination. Last week a committee sent the nomination to the full body without making a recommendation.

Imagine someone comes to your house claiming to be from the water or gas company. He says he's come to do some work in the area, but you weren’t expecting him. What if he isn’t who he says he is, and how can you tell?

State Senate Republicans want to tweak casino rules and legalize online gambling this year to help ease the commonwealth's fiscal woes.

A forthcoming proposal would allow round-the-clock alcohol sales in casinos and let certain casinos put slot machines miles away from their main premises. The big change, however, would be letting existing casinos offer online gambling. A report last year found the state could generate more than $100 million in tax and fee revenue from Internet gambling alone.

courtesy Allegany College of Maryland

 

Somerset County and Allegany College of Maryland officials are downplaying the county’s pending takeover of operations at ACM’s Somerset campus as little more than a formality.

The county is set to assume responsibility for maintenance and operational expenses at the campus July 1 with the start of the next fiscal year.

Free summer meals will be available to Allegheny County children starting Monday.

Children ages 6 months through 18 years old can enjoy free, nutritional breakfasts and lunches at 78 locations Monday through Friday through Aug. 21. There is no income requirement.

The Allegheny County Department of Human Services starts the SummerFood Program each year as schools begin to close. Persons with disabilities aged 24 and younger are also eligible.

Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board

Mayor Peduto's office and the Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board have declared the summer of 2015 as one where the youth of Pittsburgh should prepare to "Learn and Earn" through an increased dedication to placing them in meaningful summer jobs. Stefani Pashman, Chief Executive Officer at the Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board and Barbara Parees, Deputy County Manager for Allegheny County join us to outline the joint plan for a productive summer. 

Also in the program, Steve Inskeep chronicles the life of Andrew Jackson in his new book and Bob Dvorchak tries to connect the dots of a potential Penguins ownership shakeup.

Grab your capes and grab your books: a superhero book club is headed your way.

As the school year winds down, many area libraries are about to begin their summer reading programs with the national theme of “Every Hero Has a Story.” They are planning their own superhero events to motivate kids to continue reading during their break to avoid what is known as the “summer slide.”

Mayor Bill Peduto has appointed Grant Ervin as the city’s Chief Resilience Officer, a position funded through a Rockefeller Foundation grant.

His first task: developing a plan to enable the city to survive, adapt and grow no matter the challenge it will face.

Ervin has served as the city’s Sustainability Manager since 2014. He will now transition into working with stakeholders across the city to determine the key threats facing the city, then work to draft a resilience strategy with the help of the other 99 Chief Resilience Officers in the world.

In an online poll attempting to determine public opinion on state Attorney General Kathleen Kane's ability to lead, more than half of respondents said they didn't "know enough about it." 

Conducted by the Robert Morris University Polling Institute from May 8 to 16, the poll offered no context about the ongoing scandal. Of the 527 participants, 49.5 percent admitted they weren't sure. Those who did weigh in responded 2-1 that Kane should resign.

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

The 2015 Three Rivers Arts Festival officially got underway at noon Friday in Point State Park.

Art and music lovers were already milling about even before 12 p.m., as the festival’s first band, locals Black Little Birds, sound checked.

DEP To Investigate Creek Near Mine Discharge For Radioactivity

Jun 5, 2015
Natasha Khan / PublicSource

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection will investigate whether there are radioactive materials in Ten Mile Creek, a major tributary of the Monongahela River in Greene and Washington counties.

The Monongahela is a primary source of drinking water in the region, but John Poister, a DEP spokesman, said it is too early to tell whether there are any public health concerns.

Cleaning The Air, One School Bus At A Time

Jun 5, 2015
Julie Grant / The Allegheny Front

If you drive behind a diesel truck, you might not be surprised when it spews a big plume of smoke from the tailpipe. That can also happen behind a school bus. Pollution from school buses is bad for the kids on board, or anywhere nearby. But state and federal laws are starting to make some difference.

Gov. Tom Wolf issued a temporary stay of execution on Thursday for convicted killer Hubert Lester Michael, who was set to die the next day.

It’s the governor’s second intervention since he took office. He promised in February to grant a reprieve to any inmate whose execution date comes before the results of the newly established Pennsylvania Task Force and Advisory Committee on Capital Punishment are published.

Marine Corps New York / flickr

A number of  deployed soldiers return home with severe mental and physical issues. In some instances this could result in criminal actions. The Veterans Court works to find alternatives to incarceration for servicemen and women. We discussed how the program has been working here in Western PA with Ronald Scott, a veteran and graduate of the program as well as David Hickton, US States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Hickton explains that both mentors and mentees benefit from the relationship built by Veterans Court:

"I think they find that the love and support they get from someone they might have never known before gives them the faith they need to trust the society that they're re-entering, and it allows them to shed the anger which causes them to operate off the grid." -David Hickton

Also in today's program, Andy Masich helps us celebrate the 75th birthday of the Jeep (first produced in Butler), and FreeBurgh previews free events in June. 

Festivals, Food and Fun: Social Club June 5

Jun 4, 2015

This jam-packed weekend begins with First Fridays at the Frick. Feel free to bring friends, family and even food to this free event, which begins with live music at 7PM in Frick Park.

The Three Rivers Arts Festival opens this Friday with food trucks, art and free entertainment. The event starts Friday at noon but runs all day and continues until June 14.

Service and technical workers at Allegheny General Hospital voted Wednesday to unionize with more than 80 percent of the 1,200 workers voting in approval.

The employees, including radiology and lab technicians, nursing assistants, secretaries and food service workers joined the state’s largest health care union, Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

A state budget deadline looms at the end of the month, but Gov. Tom Wolf and Republican lawmakers remain divided on a spending plan.

Entities that rely on the state for funding have cautioned about the headaches caused by lengthy budget standoffs. But Wolf says he’s not resigned to a late state budget.

After high school, students with disabilities need to be prepared for the same activities other students are prepared for, according to the Education Week Research Center.

The education policy non-profit issued its 10th annual Diplomas Count report looking at the challenges and opportunities students with disabilities face as they transition from high school.

“Not all students with disabilities face the same difficulties, the same challenges,” said senior research associate Sterling Lloyd.

City Council members gave preliminary approval to updated cooperative police services agreement between city officers and University of Pittsburgh Police.

“Departments that overlap have to have agreements in place so they can share information and act in their partner’s jurisdictions,” said Public Safety Director Stephen Bucar. “The University of Pittsburgh sits in the city and quite often there are issues where our police officers are responding to an incident in the city but within the campus.”

The Community Foundation of Westmoreland County tapped a Chicago native with an education background to be its next executive director. Philip Koch takes over the post on Monday.

“One of the things that was most interesting to me was the potential that exists in Westmoreland County to make an impact,” Koch said, referring to both the possibility of creating new philanthropists and “the possible impact that the dollars could make in revitalizing those communities.”

Created in 1995, the foundation merged with the Pittsburgh Foundation in 2010 but retained its own board.

Flickr user jrgcastro

After stating last month that it would not accept Highmark Medicare patients due to Highmark's cancer treatment "mark-ups," UPMC has been ordered by Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pelligrini to continue to see the 182,000 seniors they currently serve through Highmark. UPMC has already vowed to appeal the court order under a scheduled arbitration to resolve the differences between the two providers. Pittsburgh Business Times health care reporter Kris Mamula joins us in studio. (starts at 15:13) 

Mamula explains Pelligrini's ambitious hopes for the on-going dispute between UPMC and Highmark: 

"He wants all of the contractual issues between Highmark and UPMC resolved by September 30th, which is an ambitious deadline given everything that has happened. ... He wants those things that divide them to be resolved." -Kris Mamula

Also, Acting State Police Commissioner Marcus Brown fielded questions from state Senators at his nomination hearing. Emily Prevetti has the details. And we'll preview this year's Three Rivers Arts Festival with director Veronica Corpuz, and finally, Elaine Labalme has special travel plans to help celebrate dad. 

A new collaboration plans to take the audience behind the scenes at the 56th annual Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival.

The new video series pairs the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust with Yellow Couch Studio for this year's theme, “Unseen/Unheard.”

Studio owner and producer Steven Foxbury said he hopes Yellow Couch Sessions Live! will create a cozy environment conducive to inspiring great performances.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Councilwoman Heather Heidelbaugh said she will call for a public hearing on the status of health care at the county jail.

The move is in response to efforts of prison justice activists and family members of those who have been or are currently incarcerated at the jail.

Farmers at Phipps launched its 7th annual farmer's market Wednesday on Phipp's Conservatory’s front lawn. The market runs every Wednesday from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. through the end of October.

Phipps executive director Richard Piacentini said they've had "a tremendous turnout" in years past.

“The reception’s been great," he said. "We have a lot of regular people who come here every Wednesday and we have a lot of new people that show up all the time, and it’s just really great to see.”

Wolf Pick For Police Chief Fields Senators' Tough Questions

Jun 3, 2015
AP Photo/Marc Levy

Gov. Tom Wolf's choice to lead the Pennsylvania State Police responded to a battery of questions Wednesday from Republican senators who, like the troopers' union, want the Democratic governor to withdraw Col. Marcus Brown as his nominee, while a Democrat accused Brown's detractors of opposing the integration of the overwhelmingly white force.

Pregnant women who live close to fracking sites are more likely to have babies with lower birth weights, according to a study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

Researchers used public records to cross-reference the proximity of gas wells to health information for 15,451 newborns in Washington, Westmoreland and Butler counties born between 2007 and 2010.

Pittsburgh City Council approved an agreement with the city and Department of Public Safety aimed at mentoring parents of young children. “Promised Beginnings” is part of the larger Safer Together Pittsburgh initiative to improve public safety.

“It helps facilitate existing resources that are already out there by the county or private providers, bringing those resources together (and) targeting the parents of preschool children,” said Public Safety Director Stephan Bucar.

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