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Public Safety
2:59 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

US Education Secretary: Students Deserve Safety

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan says a stabbing spree at a Pennsylvania high school is a tragedy and serves as a reminder that children and staff deserve to work and learn in a safe environment.

In a statement, Duncan said he is saddened and his thoughts go out to the victims at Franklin Regional High School.

He says when families send their children to school each day, they expect their children to return home safely.

Health
12:15 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

Food Inspections OK At Pitt-Johnstown After Campus Hit By Norovirus

Officials at the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown say state inspectors found no food safety problems as investigators continued to trace the source of a norovirus that has sickened 176 people.

An online report by the state Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Food Safety showed no violations at the campus dining hall and other food outlets operated by Sodexo Inc.

The state Department of Health earlier this week cleared the school to reopen.

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Transportation
1:14 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

Corbett Administration Finalizes 2014 Transportation Projects

Gov. Tom Corbett's administration says it has finalized the highway, bridge and mass transit improvement projects that'll begin this year as a result of a landmark transportation funding bill he signed in November.

The administration said Thursday that about 250 highway and bridge projects and 50 mass transit projects will begin in 2014 as a result of the law. That puts the total at approximately 950 highway, bridge and mass transit projects beginning in 2014.

Business
5:07 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Stadium Owners Bankrupt

The owners of Pittsburgh's minor league soccer team and the riverfront stadium in which they play have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The Riverhounds Acquisition Group, L. P. owns the team and lists debts of between $1 million and $10 million in its petition. Riverhounds Event Center LP, which owns Highmark Stadium, has $7.2 million in mortgage debt, plus a $1.5 million bank loan and hundreds of thousands of dollars in other debts to smaller creditors.

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Environment
5:05 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

Egg Hatches in Pittsburgh Bald Eagle Nest

An egg has hatched in a bald eagle nest in a Pittsburgh neighborhood.

The nest in the city's Hays neighborhood along the Monongalia river has three eggs and a live video stream of the nest has become popular locally. The female bald eagle previously fought off a raccoon that tried to raid her eggs.

Experts say it's too soon to say whether the new chick is a male or female.

The live-stream camera of the nest is provided by Murrysville-based PixController, which is working with the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Pennsylvania
4:30 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Census: PA Population Increases Slightly

Pennsylvania's population rose modestly last year, as did counties around Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Census Bureau estimates released Thursday show that the state's population last July 1 was 12,773,801. That's about 9,300 more people than the previous year.

Some metro areas gained population, while many rural counties continued to lose people.

Philadelphia County population increased in 2013 to 1,553,165. That's a gain of about 4,500. Population in Allegheny County rose by 1,615 to 1,231,527.

Luzerne County declined the most, with a drop of 1,320 people.

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Government & Politics
3:42 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

FAA OK's Pittsburgh Airport Gas Drilling

The Federal Aviation Administration has ruled that Consol Energy's plans to drill for natural gas at the Pittsburgh International Airport won't have a significant environmental impact.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports Thursday that the Allegheny County Airport Authority confirmed that the FAA report was issued this week.

Consol, a Cecil-based company, plans to drill for natural gas on about 9,000 acres of county-owned land, and says the wells will be a safe distance away from runways and other airport operations.

Education
11:41 am
Thu March 27, 2014

Pittsburgh Board Votes To Sell 2 Vacant Schools

The Pittsburgh school board has voted 8-1 to sell two vacant schools in order to raise money for the cash-starved district.

Board members decided Wednesday to sell the Madison School in the city's Hill District to Schenley Heights Community Development program for $65,000.

The board also voted to sell Burgwin School in Hazelwood for $475,000 to the Hazelwood Initiative for use as a Propel charter school and for community programs.

Both schools were closed in 2006.

In 2012, the school district a real estate company to evaluate vacant school buildings.

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Government & Politics
4:51 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Jack Wagner Drops Out of PA Governor's Race

Former state Auditor General Jack Wagner is dropping out of the governor's race.

Wagner formally withdrew from the Democratic primary race Wednesday, the last day he could have his name removed from the ballot.

His departure leaves four candidates in the race — York businessman Tom Wolf, U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, state Treasurer Rob McCord and former state environmental protection secretary Katie McGinty.

Arts & Culture
3:31 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Pittsburgh Symphony Postpones Plan To Visit Iran

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra says it has postponed plans to perform in Iran this August, but still hopes to reschedule for next season.

The Pittsburgh Symphony was the last American orchestra to perform in Iran, in 1964. Officials had hoped to return for a 50th anniversary tour. James Wilkinson, president of the symphony, says in a statement that they need to devote more time to planning.

Public Safety
10:21 am
Wed March 26, 2014

Citizen Review Board: Fire Pittsburgh Cop For Teacher Arrest

The Pittsburgh Citizen Police Review Board says a white officer should be fired for arresting a black teacher after a community meeting that addressed police relations with the city's black community.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Tuesday's non-binding recommendation that Officer Jonathan Gromek be fired was much harsher than the letter of reprimand he received after an internal investigation — a punishment the city's police union said was too severe.

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Government & Politics
3:24 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

ACLU Seeks Info On Purging Of PA Voter Rolls

A civil-rights group is raising questions about Pennsylvania's participation in a national program designed to help cull voters with duplicate registrations in different states.

Witold Walczak of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania voiced concern Tuesday about the lack of information from state officials about how they'll oversee the purging of voter rolls under the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program.

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Pittsburgh
11:48 am
Tue March 25, 2014

UPMC Questions Ravenstahl Taking Computer Home

An ongoing federal investigation involving Pittsburgh's former mayor and the city's lawsuit challenging the nonprofit status of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center have intersected — at the ex-mayor's computer.

Former Mayor Luke Ravenstahl took the computer with him for about 10 days after leaving office in January, but has since returned it. Now UPMC's attorneys want to know if he did anything with the device that might impact the city's ongoing lawsuit over its nonprofit status.

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Religion & Faith
2:22 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

3 Churches Closing in 2 Pittsburgh-Area Mergers

A 110-year-old church is one of three closing next month as the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh merges two parishes with dwindling membership in the Monongahela River valley.

The historic St. Anthony Church was merged with Transfiguration Church in 2011 to create the new St. Damien of Molokai parish in Monongahela, a depressed former mill town. Both church buildings had remained open as worship sites, however.

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Environment & Energy
3:31 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

Report Says PA Gas Drilling Taxes Are Low

A new report from a nonpartisan office of the state legislature says that Pennsylvania's taxes on the natural gas drilling boom are among the lowest in the nation.

The figures released Thursday by the Independent Fiscal Office found that Pennsylvania is the only state with significant production that doesn't impose a severance tax based on the volume of gas produced.

Economy & Business
11:30 am
Fri March 21, 2014

PA Unemployment Down, Employment Up In February

Pennsylvania's unemployment rate continued its rapid drop in February, while employer payrolls inched up and the labor force grew after a 14-month skid.

The state Department of Labor and Industry said Friday that Pennsylvania's unemployment rate fell two-tenths of a percentage point to 6.2 percent last month. It was last at that mark in 2008. The national rate was 6.7 percent in February.

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Government & Politics
9:37 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Key Cases Loom in Pennsylvania Gay Marriage Fight

Pennsylvania remains the only mid-Atlantic state that bans gay marriage, but several court fights this year could change that.

In Philadelphia, a federal judge has been asked to order Pennsylvania to recognize same-sex marriages from elsewhere.

Lead plaintiffs Cara Palladino and Isabelle Barker have been married nine years. They believe most people don't see same-sex marriage as an issue anymore.

A February poll by Quinnipiac University shows that 57 percent of state voters support same-sex marriage, while 37 percent are opposed.

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Business
12:45 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

PA Hospital Network Agrees to Pay Feds $1.5M for Kickbacks

Federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh say the West Penn Allegheny Health System has agreed to pay more than $1.5 million to settle claims that it violated the law by offering doctors below-market rents so the physicians would refer patients to the network's hospitals.

A spokesman for West Penn says the settlement grew out of a self-audit and voluntary report made to federal officials, which was confirmed by U.S. Attorney David Hickton, who announced the settlement. The allegedly illegal activity began in the mid-2000s, with most of it occurring between 2008 and 2012.

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City Government
9:42 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Pittsburgh Appeals Panel's Police Residency Ruling

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is appealing an arbitration panel's decision that its police officers can live outside the city.

The appeal to Allegheny County Court puts on hold last week's ruling that would let officers live within 25 miles of the City-County Building. The ruling means officers could live throughout the county and in parts of six neighboring counties.

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Government & Politics
2:56 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Corbett, Lawmakers Slam PA Hunting Agency

Gov. Tom Corbett and several high-ranking state lawmakers are demanding that members of the Pennsylvania Game Commission make changes or resign.

The letter they sent Tuesday to Pennsylvania Game Commission President Bob Schlemmer says the agency should rescind an agreement to pay $220,000 to its former executive director, Carl Roe.

It also says William Capouillez shouldn't be named to succeed Roe.

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Environment & Energy
12:29 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Allegheny County Outlines Deal to Drill Under Deer Lakes Park

Allegheny County Council is set to consider a lucrative deal to allow Range Resources to drill for natural gas beneath a Pittsburgh-area park, from well sites on neighboring private properties.

County Executive Rich Fitzgerald outlined the deal at a news conference Monday, saying it includes a $4.7 million bonus, a $3 million donation to a park improvement fund, and 18 percent royalties that are estimated to generate $3 million a year.

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Public Safety
12:05 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

71 Charged in Pittsburgh's St. Pat's Celebrations

Pittsburgh police say there were no major criminal incidents or problems during the city's St. Patrick's Day parade on Saturday, or at celebrations afterward, though 71 people were arrested or cited, mostly for alcohol-related infractions.

Public Safety Director Michael Huss says about 23,000 people lined the parade route, many of whom then celebrated in the city — and were joined by other revelers — most at Market Square or the South Side, a redeveloped neighborhood with a large concentration of bars.

City Government
4:59 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

Ruling Nixes Pittsburgh Police Residency Rule

A labor arbitrator has ruled Pittsburgh police don't have to live in the city, instead requiring only that they live within a 25-mile radius of the City-County Building downtown.

Thursday's ruling sets aside a November referendum in which voters overwhelmingly favored requiring officers to live in the city.

City Council proposed the referendum after a state law was changed in 2012, overturning the residency requirement. The law didn't require cities to negate residency requirements, but gave them the flexibility to do so.

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Environment
4:57 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

Allegheny County Air Quality Meets Federal Standards

Officials say air quality in the county around Pittsburgh met federal standards for fine soot pollution for the first time in 2013.

Allegheny County Health Director Dr. Karen Hacker says in a Friday statement that the news marks "a huge leap forward" in efforts to improve air quality. All eight monitoring sites in the county met standards for fine particulate pollution, which can come from coal-fired power plants, autos and trucks, and plants that produce coke for steel mills.

International News
11:28 am
Mon March 10, 2014

Pittsburgh-Area Woman Was On Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight

A company official says a woman based in western Pennsylvania was among the 239 people aboard a Malaysia Airlines jet that disappeared en route to Beijing over the weekend.

Eastman Chemical Co. says Mei Ling Chng of South Park was on the Boeing 777 that vanished from radar between Malaysia and Vietnam. The Malaysian woman was a senior process engineer for Eastman subsidiary Flexsys America in Monongahela, near Pittsburgh.

Eastman Chemical spokeswoman Tracy Kilgore told reporters in an email that officials "are deeply shocked and saddened."

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Courts
11:14 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Court Denies Ex-Sen. Jane Orie's Corruption Appeal

A three-judge state Superior Court panel has rejected former state Sen. Jane Orie's appeal of her conviction and subsequent prison sentence for campaign corruption and with introducing forged evidence which resulted in a mistrial before her eventual conviction.

Orie could not immediately be reached for comment at her home in Pittsburgh's North Hills suburbs, and her attorney, William Costopoulos, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

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Education
4:58 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

A+ Schools Chief: Major Changes to the SAT Are Necessary

Essay optional. No penalties for wrong answers. The SAT college entrance exam is undergoing sweeping revisions.

Changes in the annual test that millions of students take will also do away with some vocabulary words such as "prevaricator" and "sagacious" in favor of words more commonly used in school and on the job.

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Economy & Business
10:21 am
Tue March 4, 2014

SEIU Protesters Heed Peduto's Call to Leave UPMC

Update 12:07 p.m.

Hundreds of protesters organized by the Service Employees International Union have left the area outside the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's offices downtown, after Mayor Bill Peduto issued a statement asking them to "disband" and "return home."

Peduto's statement indicates he's cutting short a Washington, D.C. trip to return to Pittsburgh Tuesday and hopes to "resolve these conflicts."

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Environment
10:43 am
Wed February 26, 2014

Bald Eagle Nesting in Pittsburgh Lays 3rd Egg

A screen capture of a live video feed shows a bald eagle in its nest in Hays on Wednesday.
Credit The National Aviary / www.aviary.org

A female bald eagle nesting in Pittsburgh's Hays neighborhood has laid a third egg, likely the last of the season.

Bill Powers of PixController, which is providing a live-stream camera of the nest along the Monongahela river, says the new egg was spotted Tuesday night.

The 5½-year-old female nesting in Hays laid the first egg a week ago and a second on Friday.

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Environment & Energy
7:57 am
Wed February 26, 2014

2nd of 2 Gas Wells Sealed in Dunkard Township After Fatal Blast

Chevron says crews have capped the second southwestern Pennsylvania gas well that caught fire earlier this month.

Officials say the well that exploded and caught fire Feb. 11 in Greene County's Dunkard Township was capped Sunday. The blast killed Ian McKee, a technician who was working at the well pad when the fire broke out.

Chevron said the adjacent well that caught fire three days later was capped Tuesday afternoon.

The firm hired to cap the wells will assess the integrity of a third well and do any necessary repairs, part of which might involve flaring of gas.

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