Dan Priore

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

 

The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium has received the American Humane Association’s Humane Conservation Program certification, an award doled out to only a handful of animal institutions nationwide.

Independent auditors spent four days this summer evaluating the critters, including their standard of living, physical well-being and a consistently happy report with zookeepers.

“Of which all of our keepers do, because they really love their animals,” said Tracy Gray, manager of media and public relations for the zoo. 

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Preschooler Marleny Roasario sat cross-legged on a multi-colored carpet Wednesday, scrunching her face at a blue and purple snaggle-toothed troll. 

Performing artist Amber Ramsey Fantini laughed, bobbing her puppets at the class. "Turn around," she told the girl. "Show your teacher and all the other kids."

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

At a 37 percent grade, Canton Avenue in Beechview is the steepest street in the U.S.

And on Oct. 15, runners will attempt to climb all 630 feet of it as part of the “Hell on Hills” 5K.  Runners will also scale three other Beechview hills. It will set the record as the world’s steepest 5K.

Allegheny County Health Department

The Allegheny County Health Department will use new placards designed to make it easier to check restaurant and food facilities' inspection histories. 

A green, yellow or red sticker will adorn food establishments throughout the county, after undergoing an inspection. Each one will have a QR code, which patrons can scan with their smartphones to access a facility’s inspection report.

Food Safety Program Director Donna Scharding said the signs allow consumers to make educated decisions conveniently.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

It’s been 200 years since Pittsburgh’s first mayor, Ebenezer Denny, was sworn into office on July 9, 1816, and on Saturday, his great-great-great-great-great-grandson Harmar Denny IV will join hundreds of other descendants of 50 former mayors to celebrate Pittsburgh’s bicentennial.

In total, 470 people related to former mayors will be in attendance.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Performing arts organizations in Pittsburgh can now access updated assistance technology to offer to patrons who have hearing or visual disabilities.

The devices are available to any of the organizations that are a part of the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council and were purchased with a $14,000 grant from the Allegheny Regional Asset District.

Oregon Dept. of Transportation / Flickr

Water used for drinking and preparing food at Pittsburgh Public Schools is now being tested for lead.

The Allegheny County Health Department will work with Pittsburgh Public Schools and local water authorities to pinpoint and shut-off dangerous outlets throughout the 70 district facilities. All testing will take place this summer.

Even though there is no federal or state law requiring drinking water to be tested for lead, Pittsburgh Public Schools Chief Operations Officer Ronald Joseph said district officials want to take a proactive approach.

Open Streets PGH / Facebook

 

Pittsburghers can explore parts of Downtown, Lawrenceville and the Strip District unimpeded by cars on Sunday for the summer's first Open Streets event.

Vehicle traffic will be barred for a 3.5-mile stretch of Penn Avenue and Butler Street from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., but drivers will be able to cross at several intersections. Last year, about 44,000 people took part in three block parties combined.   

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania lawmakers made a step to continue helping the state's young people with disabilities find fulfilling careers and enter the work force.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Paramedics and emergency medical technicians want Pittsburghers to know they do a lot more than ride around in an ambulance.

To show off what they do, local emergency responders displayed some of their equipment and services in Market Square Monday as a part of National EMS Week.

“A lot of times on major incidents ambulances come and go before there’s any attention,” said paramedic Crew Chief Jim Dlotowski. “A lot of paramedics live in the background, and even sometimes shy away from attention, but EMS week, that celebrates that career choice.”

Pedro Ribeiro Simoes / Flickr

 

Allegheny County health officials want to help the region’s homeless youth – but they aren’t sure how many live here.  

A report from the county’s Department of Human Services conducted earlier this year found 1,156 homeless adults living in Allegheny County. But officials are going over the results of another survey to find out how many homeless youth live in the county, which includes people age 24 and younger.

Colton Point State Park / dcnr.state.pa.us

Bicyclists exploring northern Pennsylvania’s scenery along Route 6, the state’s longest highway segment, can soon expect changes.

This month, PennDOT will collaborate with the departments of Conservation and Natural Resources and of Community and Economic Development to find ways to make the route safer and more accessible for bike riders. 

daveynin / Flickr

Federal programs are capitalizing on training and development for veterans re-entering an already booming workforce.

But despite the options, Eric Eversole, president and senior advisor of the national Hiring Our Heroes initiative, said it can still be tough for former service men and women to find a meaningful career

nps.gov

The National Park Service celebrates its centennial Aug. 25 and more people are making a point to visit. 

A new report shows that 9.9 million people who stopped at Pennsylvania’s 19 national parks and historic sites spent $453 million dollars last year. That’s an increase of 14.7 percent from a year earlier, but still five percent lower than 2013.

Keith Newlin, deputy superintendent for the National Park Service in Western Pennsylvania, said 31 percent of the revenues came from lodging.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Government representatives from Pittsburgh and nearby municipalities will meet Thursday for the Congress of Neighboring Communities' annual legislative session, during which leaders will discuss ongoing regional problems.

Kristen Michaels, the executive director of the group, said the event is unique because, unlike many inter-governmental sessions, this one involves the City of Pittsburgh.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation Sunday to legalize medical marijuana in Pennsylvania, ending a nearly two-year effort to approve use of the drug. 

Pennsylvania is now the 24th state to make it legal.

Dr. Loren Robinson, Deputy Secretary for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, said it will take up to 24 months to implement the program.

“This includes the process of finding and setting up the growers and distributors, setting up dispensaries and identifying and certifying patients and providers in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Robinson said.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

While the South Side maybe known for its bar crawls, this Sunday it will also be the site of the second annual church crawl. Nine churches from South Side’s faith community will offer free, guided tours of their buildings to anyone interested in learning about each church's history, artwork and faith.

Sharon Sobol, the event organizer, said South Side residents have a strong connection with their churches.

The YMCA will close its Hazelwood center at the end of the 2016 school year, but the organization still plans on increasing its role in the community.

Beginning this summer, the YMCA will use a decentralized delivery model, where it will work with partners in Hazelwood to offer activities for kids at more accessible locations. 

Kevin Bolding, chief operating officer for the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh, said the closure is important because the Hazelwood center's programs will not be limited to a specific facility anymore.

twechy / flickr

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh will seek the public’s input and share future plans at its annual community meeting Tuesday night.

Library director Mary Frances Cooper said those plans include an increased focus on improving childhood literacy, as well as programs to help teens explore creativity through technology. 

She said the library will look to hire for a new position focused on this initiative.

birmingham.otmapgh.org

The second phase of the Birmingham Bridge Complex Preservation Project started this morning, with work conducted on the southbound side. 

The northbound side underwent construction in the project’s first phase in 2015. The adjustments include repainting, light pole replacements and concrete and deck resurfacing.

Steve Cowan, PennDOT spokesman, said the $28.5 million preservation project will bring the bridge to where it needs to be.

Yutaka Seki / Flickr

The winter season maybe ending, but that’s not stopping officials from making sure residents stay warm. 

More than 16,000 Pennsylvania households don’t have proper heating utilities, according to Pennsylvania’s Public Utility Commission.

That’s why the commission is urging residents without heat to seek one of its services for help.

The effort follows data collected by the commission’s recent Cold Weather Survey, which tracks households without utility services. 

Alberto G. / Flickr

 

The state Senate approved a House-passed bill Thursday, delaying the requirement that Pennsylvania high school students pass standardized tests in order to graduate. 

This will give lawmakers more time to review and make changes to the Keystone Exams.

Public Affairs Office Ft. Wainwright / Flickr

 

County and state-run programs will receive up to $150,000 to support veteran outreach initiatives, court programs and other services designed to help veterans in need or those transitioning to civilian life.

The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs made up to $550,000 available to service organizations through a grant process called the Veterans Trust Fund, officials announced last week.