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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.

Courts
10:25 am
Tue February 25, 2014

Ex-Pittsburgh Police Chief Harper Sentenced To 18 Months

Nate Harper, seen here at a November 2012 news conference, was sentenced to 18 months in prison Tuesday for conspiracy to steal police funds deposited into unauthorized credit union accounts and for failing to file income tax returns for several years.
Credit File Photo / 90.5 WESA

Former Pittsburgh police chief Nathan Harper has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for conspiring to create an unauthorized slush fund, diverting public money and failing to pay income taxes.

U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon also ordered 61-year-old Harper on Tuesday to repay $31,986 from the fund that he spent on himself.

An emotional Nate Harper addressed the court before hearing his sentence.

“I’m a broken man,” he said, adding that he’ll carry with him to his grave the embarrassment he said he caused his family and friends.

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Environment & Energy
7:45 am
Mon February 24, 2014

1 of 2 Gas Wells Sealed in Greene County After Fatal Blast

Chevron says crews have capped a southwestern Pennsylvania gas well that exploded and caught fire earlier this month, killing a worker.

Officials say the well that caught fire Feb. 11 in Greene County's Dunkard Township was capped Sunday. Crews are now working to cap an adjacent well that caught fire three days later.

Kelly Burch of the state Department of Environmental Protection told The (Washington) Observer-Reporter that the second well should be sealed by Wednesday.

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Government & Politics
5:00 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

PA Supreme Court Won't Revisit Gas Drilling Case

Pennsylvania's highest court said Friday it would not revisit its decision striking down a state law that took zoning decisions about natural gas drilling out of the hands of local governments.

The state Supreme Court denied a request by Gov. Tom Corbett's administration to vacate its decision and send it back to a lower court for a new round of briefs and fact-finding process.

Instead, the justices left in place the Dec. 19 decision that said new industry-friendly rules violated the state constitution.

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Election 2014
1:39 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Former PA Auditor General Jack Wagner Seeks State Office Again

Former Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner says he's running for the Democratic nomination for governor after all.

Wagner confirmed Thursday that his supporters are gathering voters' signatures for his nomination petition and predicted they will gather more than the required 2,000 signatures.

Wagner becomes the eighth candidate in a Democratic field that's been static for five months and has raised more than $25 million. He concedes that he's likely to be outspent, but says he hopes to offset that by being aggressive on issues and forthright to the voters.

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Affordable Care Act
10:52 am
Thu February 20, 2014

Reaction Swift to Corbett’s Medicaid Compromise

Gov. Tom Corbett on Wednesday officially began seeking federal approval for his plan to bring billions of federal Medicaid expansion dollars to Pennsylvania to cover a half-million working poor residents through private health plans, although advocates for the poor and uninsured called it bureaucratic and punitive.

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Higher Education
2:56 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

Penn State Names FSU's Barron Its New President

Eric Barron, a former professor and dean at Penn State University and president of Florida State University, was chosen Monday to lead Pennsylvania's largest university as it continues grappling with fallout from the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

He'll bring with him the experience of managing a major state university known as much for its for storied athletic program as its academic mission, as well as the fallout from a sex-abuse scandal with ties to big-time college football.

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Public Safety
9:19 am
Thu February 13, 2014

Up to 3,000 Gallons of Crude Oil Spilled in Vandergrift Derailment

Officials say as much as 3,000 gallons of crude oil were spilled following this morning’s train derailment in Vandergrift, but all of it was contained in a parking lot.
Credit Reid Frazier / The Allegheny Front

Update: 6:09 p.m.

Authorities say a freight train derailment in western Pennsylvania spilled several thousand gallons of crude oil, but all of it went onto a parking lot.

Westmoreland County public safety officials say the derailment of 21 cars was reported shortly before 8 a.m. Thursday on a Norfolk Southern rail line between Vandergrift and East Vandergrift.

Spokesman Dan Stevens says 19 cars carrying heavy crude and two cars contained liquid propane derailed, and about 2,000 to 3,000 gallons of crude spilled from one of the cars.

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Environment & Energy
9:57 am
Wed February 12, 2014

Chevron Marcellus Shale Well Still Burning in Greene County

State environmental officials and expert firefighters brought in by Chevron have been continuing to monitor a burning Marcellus Shale natural gas well in southwestern Pennsylvania.

The well about 50 miles south of Pittsburgh in Dunkard Township erupted into flames shortly before 7 a.m. Tuesday, injuring one worker and leaving one still unaccounted for early Wednesday.

State Department of Environmental Protection officials say the fire may burn for days, delaying efforts to determine its cause.

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Gas Production
10:17 am
Tue February 11, 2014

1 Injured, 1 Missing in Greene County Well Explosion

One worker has been injured and another is missing after a natural gas well explosion and fire in southwestern Pennsylvania, within miles of the West Virginia border.

Chevron spokesman Trip Oliver says the fire was reported at about 6:45 a.m. at the Lanco 7H well in Dunkard Township, near Bobtown. That's about 50 miles south of Pittsburgh. Oliver says one person is reported hospitalized and another is currently unaccounted for.

Oliver says Chevron personnel immediately responded to the fire and called in assistance from Wild Well Control.

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Business
11:40 am
Mon February 10, 2014

Beer Float, Anyone? Yuengling's Ice Cream Returns

The supermarket freezer aisle is getting a little more crowded as a name more associated with lager and porter than vanilla and chocolate takes its place alongside familiar ice cream brands like Breyers and Edy's.

Beer drinkers up and down the East Coast know Yuengling as a 185-year-old Pennsylvania brewery. But Yuengling used to make ice cream, too, starting in 1920 at the dawn of Prohibition.

Now Yuengling's Ice Cream is back after an absence of nearly 30 years, available beginning Monday in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Delaware and New Jersey.

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Higher Education
7:29 am
Sun February 9, 2014

Pitt Looks To DC For Its Next Chancellor

The University of Pittsburgh has tapped a U.S. Commerce Department official to be its next chancellor.

Patrick Gallagher, the acting deputy secretary of the agency, is set to start at Pitt in August. He succeeds Mark Nordenberg, who spent 19 years as chancellor.

The 50-year-old Gallagher currently serves as chief operating officer of the Commerce Department. The agency has 40,000 employees and a $10 billion budget.

The announcement follows a board of trustees vote on Saturday.

Community
3:23 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

Hundreds Attend Funeral For Stabbed Pittsburgh Police Dog

An estimated 1,200 people attended the funeral for a Pittsburgh police dog stabbed in the line of duty.

The ceremony took place Friday morning at the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum in Pittsburgh.

Rocco, the 8-year-old German Shepherd, died Jan. 30, two days after being stabbed by a fugitive suspect during an arrest. That man, 21-year-old John Rush, remains jailed on charges of attacking the dog and other human officers at the scene, as well as the bench warrants for which he was arrested.

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Public Safety
1:25 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

PennDOT Shells Out Road Salt to Help Municipalities Running Short

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation says it's supplied about 6,000 tons of road salt to municipalities that have run short this winter.

The highway department said Monday its salt stock stood at about 382,000 tons, with some 145,000 tons still to be delivered.

In an average winter, PennDOT goes through about 800,000 tons, but this year's series of storms has the department going through road salt more quickly than usual.

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Economy & Business
1:18 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Google Expanding Pittsburgh Office, Mum on Jobs

Internet search engine company Google Inc. is expanding its Pittsburgh office in the city's Bakery Square development, but not commenting on a developer's estimate that it could increase the company's employees to 1,000.

Google has confirmed the lease for 66,000 additional square feet, giving the company about 200,000 square feet in a development linked to the city's repurposed Nabisco bakery.

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Public Safety
10:20 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

On Social Media, Pittsburgh Pays Tribute to Fallen Police Dog Rocco

Pittsburghers, many of them pet owners, took to social media with heavy hearts following the death of Pittsburgh police dog Rocco Thursday evening.

Authorities say 8-year-old Rocco was injured Tuesday night when police arrested a man on warrants for probation violations and failing to register as a sex offender.

Twenty-one-year-old John Lewis Rush was one of Allegheny County's most wanted fugitives. Police say he stabbed Rocco in the back and wounded two officers before being taken into custody.

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Public Safety
10:19 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

6 Charged With Possessing Deadly Heroin

At least a half-dozen people have been charged by authorities in and around Pittsburgh with possessing heroin that is stamped with street names linked to drugs that investigators believe have caused 22 fatal overdoses in recent weeks.

After police had announced five previous arrests, on Thursday Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced similar charges against 39-year-old Tywon Laniel Newby of Clairton. Newby is being held at the Allegheny County Jail, unable to post $250,000 bond. No attorney was listed on court papers.

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Government & Politics
4:19 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Corbett Unveils State Energy Plan for PA

Gov. Tom Corbett is unveiling a state energy resource book that stresses the strength of Pennsylvania's business and energy sectors as a way to market the state to business people and investors.

Flanked by two-year students studying diesel engine technology, Corbett released the book Tuesday at Pennsylvania College of Technology's Earth Science Center near Williamsport.

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Government & Politics
10:20 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Judge Spikes Photo ID Requirement for PA Voters

A state judge has struck down the law requiring Pennsylvania's voters to show photo identification at the polls.

Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard McGinley said the requirement that was the centerpiece of Pennsylvania's embattled 2012 voter identification law places an unreasonable burden on the fundamental right to vote.

The decision paves the way for an expected appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Republicans approved the law over the protests of Democrats.

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Natural Gas Drilling
4:04 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

PA High Court Strikes Down Zoning Limits on Drilling

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Thursday struck down portions of a law that stripped some of the powers municipalities have to decide where the natural gas industry can operate — portions that the industry had sought from Gov. Tom Corbett and lawmakers.

The justices ruled the 2012 law unconstitutionally restricted the power of municipalities, although the 4-to-2 majority disagreed as to why it was unconstitutional.

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Pennsylvania
3:43 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Corbett Inks Post-Sandusky PA Child-Abuse Bills

Pennsylvania enacted its first new laws Wednesday in the Legislature's wide-ranging response to the Jerry Sandusky and Roman Catholic clergy child sexual abuse scandals, a step that expands the nearly 20-year-old playbook for how caseworkers and investigators can handle reports of child abuse.

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Government & Politics
4:26 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Corbett Backs Gay Rights Bill On Discrimination

Gov. Tom Corbett is supporting a measure to ban the discrimination of Pennsylvanians based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The proposal would update the commonwealth’s anti-discrimination law to include what supporters call basic protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Pennsylvanians.

The governor insists he’s not changing his stance on the issue, claiming it’s the first time he’s had any kind of position.

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Weather
7:49 am
Tue November 26, 2013

Weather Advisories Posted as Storm Rolls Into PA

Winter weather advisories and storm warnings have been posted for much of Pennsylvania as a storm bearing a wintry mix of precipitation rolls into the commonwealth.

The National Weather Service says snow, sleet and areas of freezing rain and ice are expected later Tuesday in areas from western to northeastern Pennsylvania.

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Transportation
10:39 am
Fri November 22, 2013

Corbett Hails Passage of PA Highways Bill

After more than a year of discussion, the state has a transportation plan in place.

A $2.3 billion plan to fund roads, bridges, mass transit, airports, waterways, bike paths and more has passed the state House and heads to the governor’s desk.

Gov. Tom Corbett is hailing passage of new transportation bill, saying he perceived an urgent need to fix roads and bridges after he took office three years ago.

The Republican spoke Thursday shortly after legislative approval of a law to pump billions into transportation infrastructure and mass transit.

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