Casey Chafin

News Assistant
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Nationwide, more than 2 million people have some form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), according to the National Eye Institute. And a new study conducted, in part, by the University of Pittsburgh sheds more light on the disease.

Casey Chafin / 90.5 WESA

Amidst calls for increased donations for the North Side Community Food Pantry last week, one group to answer the request is the Muslim Association of Greater Pittsburgh.

Casey Chafin / 90.5 WESA

While the state budget impasse affects schools across the state, Pittsburgh Public Schools ranks among the best-prepared, according to a review conducted by state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.

“Our audit has shown that this is clearly the most successful financially run district that we’ve seen in the entire state from an urban perspective,” DePasquale said.

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Smallmouth bass still haven't recovered from a precipitous population drop in the Susquehanna River  10 years ago, according to a report released Monday by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

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PennDOT and the state Departments of Aging and Insurance are reminding older drivers to evaluate their driving abilities as part of "Older Driver Safety Awareness Week." 

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, drivers age 85 and older are nearly twice as likely to crash compared to drivers between the ages of 16 and 19.

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As state lawmakers struggle to agree on a budget, a coalition of 32 community organizations has banded together to push for changes in the budget-making process for future years. 

Max King, president of The Pittsburgh Foundation, said he wants there to be a hard deadline in which no state employees gets paid until a budget is in place. The state is supposed to have a new budget by July 1 each year.

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Roughly 40,000 people are expected to make their way downtown this year for Pittsburgh’s annual New Year’s celebration.

Kevin McMahon, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, said the events offered at “First Night 2016” are going to be more diverse than ever.

“Our theme this year is ‘Around the World, Around the ‘Burgh’ and so we’re telling people that you can experience all kinds of art and culture from around the globe without ever leaving Pittsburgh,” McMahon said. “So that’s our big, new thing this year.”

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Stores and restaurants at the Pittsburgh International Airport will be open to the public for holiday shopping next month.

It'll be open to anyone, not just passengers, on Saturday, Dec. 12.

Bob Kerlik, Pittsburgh International Airport spokesman, said anyone hoping to attend the holiday open house must register with a government-issued photo ID.

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According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Pennsylvania residents lost more than $20.8 million to internet fraud in 2014.

This holiday season, the Pennsylvania Bankers Association is reminding people to be safe with their banking information when shopping with a credit card, whether online or in person.

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In Allegheny County, 22 hotels owe more than $790,000 in unpaid taxes, penalties and interest.

The County Controller, working with the Treasurer’s office, conducted an audit uncovering the unpaid taxes.

Controller Chelsa Wagner said her office has an agreement with the Treasurer’s office, which collects the taxes, to take charge of more difficult audits such as this one.

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This year's Black Friday isn't expected to be much different from the previous year's. 

Last year, 87 million Americans went shopping on Black Friday, spending more than $1.5 billion, according to the National Retail Federation.

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Pittsburgh has been referred to as “the city of champions” by many, but a new index by Pittsburgh Today places the city’s professional sports scene behind Boston, Detroit and Philadelphia.

Doug Heuck, director of Pittsburgh Today, which measured Pittsburgh against 15 “benchmark" U.S. cities, said the Steel City came in fourth in their recent Pittsburgh Sports Town Index.

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A new initiative will aim to reduce the number of jobless veterans in the region by coordinating existing job services for veterans with companies looking to hire.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The North Side will become the home of the city's newest bike lanes. 

The City of Pittsburgh is installing bike lanes on East Street in the North Side, between Suffolk Street and Lareda Street.

In September, the city installed bike lanes along Bigelow Boulevard and Bayard Street in Oakland.

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Arborists from around the nation will convene in Pittsburgh for the Tree Care Industry Expo, at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center from November 12th through the 14th.

Peter Gerstenberger, Tree Care Industry Association safety advisor, said the expo is usually held in a city east of the Mississippi River, because that is where the majority of the nation’s tree cover is, but the expo includes information valuable to arborists all over the nation.

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Children feel better, behave better and their cognitive skills improve when they spend time outdoors, according to Heather Sage, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy director of community projects.

Sage, along with Betty Cruz, manager of special initiatives for the city, and Jamie Beechey, Parks and Recreation deputy director, will represent Pittsburgh at the Connecting Children to Nature Leadership Academy in St. Paul, Minnesota this week.

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The Community College of Allegheny County is trying to get more of its students to finish with a degree or certificate.

CCAC participated in the Pennsylvania Community College Completion Challenge last week, which concludes with an open house at all eight locations from 2 to 7 p.m. Monday.

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According to a report released by the Pennsylvania Center for Workforce Information & Analysis last year, the unemployment rate among veterans in Allegheny County as of 2013 was 7.3 percent, which was about a third of a percent higher than the general population.

Veterans in the Pittsburgh area who are currently seeking employment can attend an exclusive job fair at Heinz Field Thursday.

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Creatives and craftsmen are invited to the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse's RECLAIM! free materials event in Point Breeze from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For $5, guests are free to take as much material as they are able to transport.

“People are doing home improvement projects and just need maybe a pound more of tile to finish their backsplash, or artists looking for raw materials, or just people who kind of want to see what’s going on,” Materials Coordinator Barbara Moore said.

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Minority groups saw a two percentage point increase in casino employment throughout the state, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s 8th annual diversity report.

Racial minorities now comprise about 33 percent of casinos' total workforce. Analysts found 43 percent of employees are women.

What's Next For Syria, Russia And The U.S.?

Oct 14, 2015
Alexei Nikolsky / AP Images

Mark Katz, George Mason University Russian and Eurasian Studies professor, joined Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer to discuss Russia’s recent bombing campaign in Syria.

Although the bombings seemed surprising, Katz said he thinks the intelligence community saw signs that this was going to happen.

“When the people up on top are distracted, or simply don’t want something to happen, there’s a tendency not to see or hear these signals,” he said. “So I would imagine that when the history of it is written, that there will have been several points in which warning was made but was ignored.”

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There are roughly 1,300 homeless veterans in the state of Pennsylvania, according to a study released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development earlier this year.

Jerry Beck, deputy adjutant general for veterans affairs in Pennsylvania, said the Wolf administration wants to reduce this number by 550 by the end of the year.

What's Being Made At Pittsburgh's Maker Faire

Oct 9, 2015
Maker Faire Pgh / Facebook

From robots, to rockets to bicycles: this weekend, Maker Faire Pittsburgh will exhibit the work of many creative minds from all over the region.

Dale Dougherty, creator of Maker Faire, said ‘maker’ is an umbrella term that broadly defines anyone who builds, creates, or puts something together.

“I think one of the elements of Maker Faire is that we’re using technology often to transform materials and turn it into something that means something to us and to other people,” he said.

Casey Chafin / 90.5 WESA

Security officers were joined Wednesday by union and community leaders  to announce their first union contract with several companies that provide security services for Pittsburgh buildings.

The deal with Allied Barton Security Services, G4S, Securitas, St. Moritz Security Services, I.S.S., S.O.S. and Chesley Brown provides health care benefits and a $1.95 hourly increase over three years to a minimum of $11.75.

Sheri Geyer, a security officer for 18 years, said the contract should encourage other workers in the area to organize.

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While hunger rates remain high in Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf has issued an executive order to re-commit to the fight against hunger.

Emily Cleath, communications coordinator for Just Harvest, a non-profit advocacy group aimed at ending hunger, said hunger rates in Pennsylvania have not decreased for too long.

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Pennsylvania small business owners are looking at the next six months with some optimism, according to the most recent findings from PNC’s biannual Economic Outlook Survey.

The survey found the percentage of small business owners in the state expecting to raise employee wages increased from 29 to 45 percent.

Supporters and opponents of House Bill 1506, which would make English the official state language in Pennsylvania, testified Monday at a House Committee hearing.

Under the legislation, introduced by Rep. Ryan Warner (R-Fayette), all state government documents would be required to be in English.

Casey Chafin / 90.5 WESA

  A day after community leaders called for an end to the violence in the city, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Police Chief Cameron McLay said Wednesday there are fewer homicides this year despite an uptick in area shootings.

“It’s not an epidemic of violence outside the norm of this city,” McLay said.

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Last summer, officials indicted cybercriminal Evgeny Bogachev on charges he used two malicious computer programs to steal roughly $100 million since 2011.

To combat the growing risk of financial cyberattacks, the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities has created a task force to inform banking and financial institutions in the state about preventative measures, according to Ed Novak, department press secretary.

“What we’ve done is create a website on cybersecurity,” Novak said. “And on the website, if you’re ... a bank, or you’re a mortgage broker or you’re an investment firm, we have a list of ... industry and regulatory best practices.”

Many common chemicals cannot be disposed of in traditional ways, and for that reason, the Pennsylvania Resources Council is hosting a drive-thru chemical collection from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the South Park Wave Pool parking lot on Saturday.

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