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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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Public Safety
6:05 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Teacher, ACLU File Suit Against Pittsburgh Police Officer Over Summer Arrest

Dennis Henderson (center) and the ACLU have filed a federal lawsuit against a Pittsburgh police officer following an incident in Homewood last summer.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The ACLU of Pennsylvania has filed a federal lawsuit against Pittsburgh police officer Jonathan Gromek, who last summer arrested a black teacher after a community meeting on police/community relations in Homewood.

All charges against Dennis Henderson were withdrawn by the district attorney, but Henderson said that the damage that was done can’t be undone.

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Government & Politics
5:47 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Republican, Democrat Write PA Marijuana Bill

Two state senators, one a Republican and the other a Democrat, are planning to introduce a bill to legalize a certain form of marijuana for medicinal use in Pennsylvania.

Sens. Daylin Leach and Mike Folmer said Monday their bill would help ensure Pennsylvanians can get medical benefits from cannabidiol, a compound found in marijuana that's credited with various medical applications without providing a high.

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Government & Politics
6:15 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

Arguments Continue Over Church, Health Care Law

Lawyers for the federal government and two Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses say a central question in a lawsuit over Affordable Care Act mandates is how to define a "substantial burden" as it relates to religious beliefs.

The oral arguments took place Wednesday in Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh and Erie dioceses object to the new federal health care law and are suing the federal government to seek an exemption.

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Public Safety
3:56 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

16-Year-Old Charged in Shooting of 3 Students Outside Brashear High School

A police officer is stationed on Crane Avenue following a shooting outside Brashear High School Wednesday that left three students injured.
Credit Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

Update: 7:39 a.m. Thursday

Pittsburgh police have charged a 16-year-old student with shooting three others outside a high school, allegedly in retaliation for a drug-related robbery inside the school last month.

None of the students wounded minutes after Brashear High School dismissed classes Wednesday has life-threatening injuries. Police say two were grazed by bullets, while one was shot in the arm and foot. Police say a fourth was targeted but not hurt.

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Transportation
5:18 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Proposed Settlement Would Allow US Airways-American Merger

The Justice Department says it has reached an agreement permitting the $11 billion merger of American Airlines and US Airways, creating the world's biggest airline.

In August, the federal government, along with Pennsylvania and five other states, sued to block the merger, claiming it would restrict competition and drive up prices for consumers on hundreds of routes around the country.

The airlines have said their deal would increase competition by creating another big competitor to United Airlines and Delta Air Lines, which grew through recent mergers.

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Election 2013
11:38 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Stabile Overtakes McVay for Appellate Court Seat

Lawyer Vic Stabile has beaten Allegheny County judge Jack McVay Jr. to win a seat on the Pennsylvania Superior Court.

The battle for the mid-level appeals court was the only statewide race on Tuesday's ballot.

Stabile shook up the race last week by airing a TV ad criticizing McVay because his fiancee and sister-in-law are on the Allegheny County court payroll.

McVay called the ad unfair because he did nothing wrong, and a Pennsylvania Bar Association panel asked Stabile to take down the ad, but he has refused,

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Election 2013
10:09 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Voters Favor Keeping 4 PA Appellate Judges In

Pennsylvania voters have approved additional 10-year terms for four state appellate judges.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald Castille and Justice Max Baer and Superior Court judges Susan Gantman and Jack Panella faced up-or-down "retention" votes to decide if they should stay on the bench.

Judges are unopposed in retention elections.

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