News

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

A conservationist dedicated to saving African elephants one healthy birth at a time was chosen to receive the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium’s first-ever Legacy Conservation Award.

Zoo officials will honor Thomas Hildebrandt, head of the reproduction management department at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin, Germany, in a local ceremony on Thursday.

The devastating earthquake in Nepal last month killed thousands and displaced many more as homes, schools and medical clinics were left decimated in the weeks that followed.

One local charity is reaching out.

“Plea for Nepal: Special Concert” will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Campbell Memorial Hospital at Chatham University. The show will feature performances from members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Rick Santorum Launching Second White House Run

May 27, 2015
Alonzo Adams / The Associated Press

Rick Santorum, an aggressive advocate for conservative family values, will launch a second bid for president on Wednesday, a spokesman said.

The former Pennsylvania senator exceeded the political world's expectations by scoring a second-place finish in the race for the Republican presidential nomination four years ago. Yet as he competes again, he may struggle even to qualify for the debate stage in 2016.

Loco Steve / flickr

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, Positive Train Control could have prevented the derailment of Amtrak 188 that derailed in Philadelphia earlier this month. Eight people died and more than 200 people were injured. Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Bob Casey is leading a group of Senators who have sent a letter to the Appropriations Committee calling on Congress to increase funding. It has been reported that it will take $2 billion to fully implement this technology. Senator Casey joins us by phone.

Casey explains that many transit agencies across the nation are in favor of updating train safety, but with so many other areas of the country's infrastructure in need of repair, allocating the funding to trains is a difficult task:

"What the Congress should do, if we're doing the right thing, is to not put Amtrak or any transit agency in the position of having to choose between safety technology like Positive Train Control on the one hand versus fixing crumbling bridges or other parts of the aging infrastructure." - Senator Bob Casey

Also today, Historic Harmony looks for support in protecting the ground George Washington walked on, and former Steelers linebacker Andy Russell welcomes Western PA's six Pro-Hall of Fame quarterbacks to the steel city for the Gridiron Gold. 

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Following more than a year of planning, research and community meetings, Allegheny County has released the Plan for a Healthier Allegheny (PHA), which sets priorities for health officials and partners to work on going forward.

“It’s a five-year plan that sets forth health priorities, measurable goals and strategies to reach those goals,” said County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

The plan identifies five key areas to focus on, including access, the environment, maternal and child health, mental health and substance abuse.

After three years of grappling with the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, some Pittsburghers are fed up and heading to court.

The class-action lawsuit, filed May 18 in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court on behalf of Millvale property owner Susan Newman and "anyone who is a rate payer or biller," credits PWSA for eleven complaints, including breach of contract, common law fraud and civil conspiracy.

Mayor Bill Peduto is in Cuba this week along with Pittsburgh-area manufacturing leaders in the hopes of establishing Pittsburgh as a trade partner with the island nation, should Congress lift the embargo between the two countries.

Minority students are being unfairly targeted for out-of-school suspensions, according to some parents, teachers and concerned citizens expected to rally before Pittsburgh Public Schools ' 6 p.m. board meeting at their Oakland office on Tuesday.

Black children represented 54 percent of Pittsburgh's 26,041 students last year but received 77 percent of the district's 9,382 suspensions, according to data compiled by advocacy group Great Public Schools Pittsburgh. Students with disabilities accounted for 17 percent of enrollment but received 27 percent of out-of-school suspensions. 

Duquesne University received one of seven new clean energy project grants awarded by the Department of Community and Economic Development throughout the state.

The university will use the $2 million to replace its current 50-year-old boilers with larger, higher-efficiency ones.

“We found out about this and we made a decision, why don’t we apply for it and see if we could get it,” said Rod Dobish, executive director of facilities management at Duquesne. “We made a conscious decision to do that.”

Copyright Martha Rial

The Manchester Bidwell Corporation was founded in 1968 by Bill Strickland with the intent of using the environment to shape people's lives. We’ll discover his philosophy for the creation of the guild. We’ll also speak to Chief Operating Officer of the National Center for Arts and Technology Paulo Nzambi and Vice President of Operations Kevin Jenkins on their roles within the Bidwell company.  

“You can do extraordinary things if you have the right people around you. Part of the message is…you don’t have to go to the world, you can bring the world to your neighborhood, and it’s not where you start that matters, it’s where you end up.” -Bill Strickland 

Also, we'll talk about the Bidwell Training Center-- an institute of the Manchester Bidwell Corporation and home to the Manchester Craftsman's Guild, a league of youth and adults working in tandem to create a one-of-a-kind growth and learning experience. 

Exposure to fine particulate air pollution is associated with increased risk of childhood autism, according to a study carried out by University of Pittsburgh researchers and published in the Journal of Environmental Research.

Researchers did a population-based, case-control study of families with children with and without autism spectrum disorders in Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Washington and Westmoreland counties.

Via Tsuji / Flickr

In a continuing effort to improve police and community relations, the Zone 5 station will open its doors to the community for an open house – open to everyone in Zone 5 and beyond.

“Citizens, officers, their families, lawmakers, anyone who wants to come,” Zone 5 Commander Jason Lando said. “We just want to give the community a chance to come down, meet our officers, see our station, see our equipment and help bring the community and the police closer together.”

Pennsyvlania Department of Agriculture

Invasive insects can have devastating impacts on native plants and trees, as evidenced by the Emerald Ash Borer’s effect on the state’s ash trees.

That insect was first found in Michigan in 2002; it continued to spread and has wiped out tens of millions of ash trees nationwide, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Now there’s another bug to worry about – the Spotted Lanterfly. The pest was first spotted last fall in Berks County.

“We believe it’s been here a season or two, so it can live here, it can survive here, it’s been tested,” said Russell Redding, Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary. “What we want to do is send it packing.”

More than 3.5 million Americans currently live with some form of autism spectrum disorder, according to the Autism Society.

The University of Pittsburgh will soon begin a study testing two different non-drug treatments for adults with autism, thanks to a $3.2 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Shaun Eack, associate professor of social work and psychiatry at the university, will lead the research.

Usually a food pantry looks for monetary or food donations to stock their shelves, but the Northside Community Food Pantry needs a bit more.

Organizers need help replacing their shelves, ramps, tables and storage units to give it “more of a supermarket-style feel,” officials said.

When you think of must-see parks in Pennsylvania, what comes to mind? Point State Park? Keystone State Park in Westmoreland County? Hillman State Park in Washington County?

The Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation is encouraging state residents to participate in the 100 Icons of Summer Campaign to nominate their favorite parks and forests. These submissions should reflect what residents “see” after closing their eyes and then thinking of their parks and forests. Throughout May and June, the foundation will accept suggestions for the 100 icons.

Keith Ewing / Flickr

This weekend marks the unofficial start of summer – which means, among other things, swimming! 

Sen. Rop Teplitz (D-Dauphin) has introduced a bill that would return lifeguards to state park public beaches.

“In 2008, the lifeguards were eliminated at all but two parks due to budgetary reasons, but I think the public safety requires that the lifeguards be restored,” Teplitz said.

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources estimates the state saved roughly $800,000 a year by not having lifeguards on duty at all parks. Teplitz said those savings aren't worth risking public safety.

When an out-of-state customer at County Councilman John Palmiere's Brentwood barbershop commented on the beauty of Allegheny County being covered in litter, he decided to go for a drive.

Palmiere said he quickly realized she was right.

“You see it all the time, and you don’t see it," he said. "So I just took a ride around one evening after she said that and she’s right. The place is just … we have so much debris and litter.”

Your search for an apartment just got a lot more thorough.

A new, free service designed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University aims to help people find a rental property by estimating the utility costs based on the unit itself and also the renter’s personal habits and lifestyle.

Jennifer Mankoff, associate professor in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute and co-leader on the project, said EDigs was inspired by a former Ph.D. student’s work studying the relationships between landlords and low-income tenants.

90.5 Reporters Win Awards

May 22, 2015

90.5 WESA reporters Deanna Garcia, Liz Reid, Larkin Page-Jacobs, and Erika BerasEssential Pittsburgh's Paul Guggenheimer, Marcus Charleston and Heather McClain, and The Allegheny Front's Kara Holsopple won awards at the Press Club of Western PA’s Annual “Golden Quill” Awards last night.

The Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania has been working to expand the Pennsylvania Housing Trust Fund statewide; the organization will continue that work following the release of a report that shows a person would have to make $15.12 an hour in wages to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at fair market rate in Allegheny County.

The problem, according to Alliance Executive Director, Liz Hersh, is that many people don’t make that much money.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Humans have lived in the region for close to 16,000 years. One of the few remaining vestiges of those early residents can be sought in McKees Rocks.

Mark McConaughy is a regional archeologist for the Pennsylvania Bureau of Historic Preservation. He stands on the edge of the Bottoms neighborhood with his back to the railroad tracks that skirt the Ohio River’s high embankment, looking past silos of asphalt aggregate and trucks driving in and out.   

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

These aren’t your typical theater-goers. They call out during the play. They try to join into the performance.

And some are sucking on pacifiers.

This is entertainment for the very young — baby theater.

Faros Properties

A New York developer unveiled plans Thursday to reinvent long-dormant Allegheny Center Mall into a commercial hub for technology and innovation.

Dubbed Nova Place, the 1.2 million square-foot former retail complex was redesigned to accommodate offices for new and existing tenants, a conference center, gym, parking, restaurants, coffee shops and other facilities. Demolition has already begun, owner and Faros Properties managing partner Jeremy Leventhal said.

Fourteen hours after the polls closed and voters decided Bellevue would no longer be ‘dry,’ the first liquor license application was submitted in more than 80 years.

Specialty Group, a liquor license broker and lender for restaurants and bars, submitted the application on behalf of Grille 565 on Lincoln Avenue. Ned Sokoloff, the company’s president and CEO, said the Liquor Control Board received the application by 10 a.m. Wednesday.

90.5 WESA offers you two specials to kick off the summer!

Friday, May 22 at noon and 8 p.m.: State of the Re:Union: Travelogue: Volume 2

For the last six years, State of the Re:Union has been collecting stories from the road. This show is a look back at the communities, characters, and conflicts covered over the years, including Superman, medical migrants, a letter to Appalachia and more.

Port Authority officials are proposing a budget of $397.8 million for FY 15-16, an increase of about $9 million from this year.

The 2.3 percent spending increase will not result in a hike to the base fare ($2.50), service cuts or job reductions.

“This is absolutely a really good sign for the Port Authority,” said transit agency spokesman Jim Ritchie.

In fact, the preliminary budget calls for a limited service increase in some routes to alleviate overcrowding.

Red, White and Brew: Social Club May 22

May 21, 2015

Kick off your long weekend and get summer started at the Bakery Square Summer Kick Off on Friday. The free event is from 5-9PM at Bakery Square in East Liberty and will have live music, food trucks and drinks to enjoy.

Iggy Azalea is coming to perform in Pittsburgh for the first time, and some people are not happy about it.

Last Friday, the Delta Foundation, the organization behind Pittsburgh Pride, announced that the rapper and songwriter will headline its Pride in the Street event on June 13. Since the announcement, they’ve received heavy push back from the LGBTQ community in Pittsburgh, some of whom accuse Azalea of racism, homophobia, cultural appropriation and plagiarism.

Gov. Tom Wolf's proposed Pennsylvania budget has a detractor: the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP).

The group, which represents all of the state's hospitals, takes issue with a $166.5 million reduction to hospital Medicaid payments. HAP's Vice President for Research Martin Ciccocioppo said the reduction is significant for a program that already doesn't cover the costs hospitals incur.

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