Haldan Kirsch

News Fellow

After completing a 2013 summer internship in digital content at 90.5, Haldan joined the WESA newsroom as a fellow in September. The native of Roaring Spring, PA will graduate in May from Duquesne University with a B.A. in broadcast journalism.

Following graduation Haldan hopes to work in photography and/or video for a newspaper or magazine "somewhere near water...preferably a beach."

Fun fact:  "I hold my high school record for the shot put."


9:10 am
Mon February 17, 2014

Pennsylvania's Heroin Users Are Getting Older

The 22 overdose deaths related to fentanyl-laced heroin in Western Pennsylvania recently have drawn increased attention to drug use in the area, and an unexpected trend is being found.

According to Allegheny County Medical Examiner Karl Williams, the average age of overdose victims has risen in recent years. Middle-age men and women in suburban and rural areas are now some of the most common victims of overdose.

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Farming Antibiotics
4:07 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Local Activists Show Support for Federal Ban on Use of Antibiotics in Farm Animals

Dr. Betsy Blazek-O'Neill of Allegheny General Hospital Explains the health concerns surrounding the use of antibiotics in the agricultural industry
Haldan Kirsch WESA

In 2006 the European Union banned the use of antibiotics to promote growth in farm animals. The US  has yet to follow suit and today 80% of the antibiotics used in the nation are being fed to animals in factory farms according to Food & Water Watch.  That group is calling for a federal ban on the non-medicinal use of antibiotics in animal feed, which is believed to promote antibiotic resistant bacteria in humans.

Antibiotics are also used to prevent and control diseases that can breakout in the confined animal pens.

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Public Health
1:46 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

Pittsburgh Company to Provide Public Health Surveillance During Super Bowl XLVIII

A measles outbreak at a past Super Bowl has state officials concerned for the health of guests visiting Northern New Jersey for this year’s matchup. To contain any possible outbreaks, the New Jersey Department of Public Health has enlisted the help of a Pittsburgh company to take a proactive step against any health problems.

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Government & Politics
3:30 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Legislation to Increase Protection for Victims of Sexual Assault and Stalking Faces Final Vote

An amendment that would increase protection for victims of stalking could get a final vote Monday in the Pennsylvania House after a five-year effort by its teenage author.

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3:17 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

Volunteers Spruce Up Carnegie Library of Homestead in Honor of MLK Day

Carnegie Library of Homestead was built in 1898 and is the third oldest library in the United States
Haldan Kirsch WESA

Thirty-one years ago Martin Luther King Day became a federal holiday to commemorate the civil rights advocate. The third Monday of January now serves as an opportunity for individuals and organizations to honor King’s legacy through public service

In celebration of Martin Luther King Day, Knowledge to Empower Youths to Success (KEYS) Service Corps members volunteered to assist with the upkeep of the Carnegie Library of Homestead Music Hall.

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1:30 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Area Nonprofits, Universities to Honor Martin Luther King, Jr. with Day of Service

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Pittsburgh area nonprofits and universities will be holding events and coordinating volunteer efforts Monday commemorating King’s legacy.

To help coordinate these efforts, Pittsburgh Cares is launching a page on their website where volunteer organizations can post opportunities for citizens to get involved and commemorate the holiday.

According to Riley Baker, Pittsburgh Cares director of retired and senior volunteer programs, the day was made a national day of service to focus on King’s core ideals.

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Economy & Business
4:46 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

New State Legislation Will Offer A Tax Credit For Workforce-Training Programs

Legislation has been introduced in the state House that will create an incentive program to fund workforce-training programs through a tax credit.  Representative Eli Evankovich (R-Westmoreland) authored the Pennsylvania Workforce Investment Strategy Act which he says will better coordinate current workforce investment programs.

“We’ve visited dozens of businesses across the state of Pennsylvania and workforce development stands to be the most important issue that face business here in Pennsylvania that I’ve encountered.” 

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3:30 am
Mon January 13, 2014

PA Game Commission Seedling Bundles Up For Sale

Landowners hoping to support wildlife habitats on their properties can currently purchase trees and shrubs to be planted in the spring from the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

The Game Commission’s state land is repopulated each year by seedlings grown at the Howard Nursery, which is located just outside of State College.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has 40 varieties of native plant life including the Black-gum/Black Tupelo, northern red oak, chestnut oak, and pin oak that are available in bundles of 25 seedlings.

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Environment & Energy
4:18 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Former DEP Secretary Wants Stronger State Regulations on Gas Drilling

Democratic candidate for governor John Hanger wants to see tougher regulations on the oil and gas industry in Pennsylvania.

During a Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection hearing, Hanger proposed his 19-point program to increase regulations on gas drilling. Among other changes, Hanger proposed: stronger enforcement of air emissions; extending the minimum distance between a well site and public land; prohibiting the use of outdoor pits for wastewater storage; and adding 105 employees to enforce regulations.

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3:00 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

First Night 2014: Best of Pittsburgh Comes Together in Cultural District to Celebrate the New Year

Organizers expect huge crowds as Pittsburgh First Night 2014 celebrates the New Year with a lineup of music, art, theater, comedy and fireworks.

The biggest New Year's celebration in Pittsburgh had around 36,000 individuals attend last year. As a part of the festival, there will be more than 150 family-friendly performances, art installations, and events at different indoor and outdoor venues throughout the Cultural District.

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Arts & Culture
3:30 pm
Fri December 27, 2013

Pittsburgh Community for Exiled Artists Receives Grant to Fund Annual Concert

One of the City of Asylum’s post popular events will be back on the North Side next year thanks to a new federal grant.

The $20,000 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grant will go to fund City of Asylum’s Jazz/Poetry Concert scheduled for September 2014. The event features musicians and poets from all over the world. The free concert is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

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7:15 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Annual Candlelight Vigil to Remember Homeless Deaths

As a part of National Homeless Persons Memorial Day, a Pittsburgh nonprofit is hosting a candlelight vigil to remember those who have died homeless in 2013.

Operation Safety Net, a program by Pittsburgh Mercy Health System, will host the vigil under the bridge that connects Grant Street to Fort Pitt Boulevard in downtown on Saturday, Dec. 21, the longest night of the year.

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4:38 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Holiday Shipping Numbers Rise As Online Shopping Becomes More Popular

An increase in deals and consumer confidence is drawing more shoppers to online retailers than ever before, and with this comes an increase in packages.

United States Postal Service spokesman Tad Kelley says that they’re seeing a rise in shipments over last holiday season.

“We’re looking at 15 percent above our normal packages we would handle from last year," Kelley said. "We’re doing a couple hundred thousand packages a day here through the Western Pennsylvania district.”

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3:30 am
Mon December 16, 2013

Research Finds Better Sleep Makes for Stronger Bones

Dec. 21, the Winter Solstice, marks the shortest day of the year with only a little more than nine hours of daylight here in Pittsburgh. With less light some people might be feeling ready for bed a little early. According to researchers, this is another way our bodies fight off some diseases.

With shorter days and longer nights our bodies’ melatonin levels are rising earlier than usual. Melatonin is the molecule that tells our bodies when it is night and prepares us for sleep. Melatonin has also been found to be important in maintaining healthy bones.

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City in Transition
5:03 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Details of Proposed City Employee Buyout Program Released

A week after Mayor-elect Bill Peduto’s plan to offer some city worker’s an early retirement faced a veto threat from Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, Peduto’s staff announced a second plan that would operate separate from the pension.

On Thursday, more details of the plan were released: Those changes could expand the number of eligible workers.

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3:04 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

20th 'First Night' to Celebrate New Year with Mix of Music, Arts

Rich Rubin of Ice Creations will be crafting a 40 x 40 ice labyrinth for First Night Pittsburgh.
Haldan Kirsch 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh’s biggest New Year’s party is celebrating its twentieth anniversary in a big way with a variety of musical and visual attractions.

First Night Pittsburgh will be ringing in the New Year with more than 150 art-focused and family-friendly attractions to commemorate two decades of festivities. The attractions will be spread throughout the Cultural District, starting at 6 p.m. Dec. 31 until a fireworks celebration and the raising of the “Future of Pittsburgh” ball at midnight.

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3:00 am
Thu November 28, 2013

Allegheny County Health Department to Provide Free Flu Shots to the Homeless This Thanksgiving

During the last flu season there were 1,415 confirmed cases of influenza in Allegheny County, but the health department adds that for every one laboratory-tested case there are as many as 100 others.

More vulnerable groups of people, such as the elderly and infants, are often affected by life-threatening symptoms brought on by the virus. This Thanksgiving, healthcare organizations in the area are starting a new initiative to help some of the most vulnerable residents.

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11:29 am
Fri November 22, 2013

Look Up! Comet ISON Starts Its Pass Around the Sun

It might not live up to its hype as the “Comet of the Century,” but Comet ISON could still light up the night sky this December.

Comet ISON — named after the Russian-based organization that discovered it in 2012 — was originally predicted by the astronomy community to possibly be as bright as the moon, giving it the title “Comet of the Century.” According to Dan Malerbo, program coordinator of the Buhl Planetarium, the three-mile wide comet has not brightened at its expected rate and now might not even survive it’s trip around the sun.

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3:30 am
Mon November 18, 2013

Lack of Parking May Be One of the Electric Cars Biggest Hurdles

Electronic vehicles (EVs) currently make up about 1 percent of the automotive market. Some studies predict by 2030 that number could be as high as 80 percent, though researchers at Carnegie-Mellon University (CMU) have found that parking might be one of the technology's greatest obstacles.

EVs are any battery-powered automotive vehicles, whether hybrid or completely battery powered.

Professors of engineering and public policy at CMU have compiled data that show a lack of residential parking and charging capabilities across the country.

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Renewable Energy
2:19 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

PA Lags in Renewable Energy Standards

Eight percent is not enough according to State Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery).   He’s referring to a 2004 state law that requires power-generating utilities in Pennsylvania to have at least eight percent of their output from renewable sources—hydro, solar, wind, and geothermal—by 2021.

“It (eight percent) was not ambitious but it was reasonable in 2004,” says Leach.  “But time, technology and other states have passed us by.”  

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Election 2013
12:11 am
Wed November 6, 2013

Democrats Hold Onto Control of Allegheny County Council

The voters of Allegheny County are sending three new members to County Council, while four incumbents were able to hold onto their seats on Election Day, leaving the body with 10 Democrats and five Republicans.

Republican Tom Baker won the District 1 Council seat over Democrat Daniel A. McClain Jr. and Constitution Party candidate Jim Barr, taking 50 percent of the vote. Current District 1 Councilman Matt Drozd was defeated by Baker in a primary fight.

After giving his victory speech around 10 p.m., Baker said he was “elated” over the win.

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12:24 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Pittsburgh Technical Institute to Open Energy Technology Center

The $3.5 million tech center has its grand opening Thursday November 7th
Pittsburgh Technological Institute

An area technical school is opening a new building meant to train students in order to meet the workforce needs of the region’s fastest growing industry — energy.

Pittsburgh Technical Institute is hosting a grand opening of their Energy Technology Center Nov. 7. The center features two general-purpose classrooms as well as three new labs outfitted for training in welding, HVAC, and oil and gas electronics.

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Environment & Energy
2:39 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Cindy Adams Dunn Announced as New President and CEO of PennFuture

A statewide environmental advocacy group has a new leader.

Cindy Adams Dunn has been named president and CEO of Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture). She succeeds George Jugovic, who stepped down from the position to work as the head of law staff.

Dunn had previously been working as deputy secretary with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

A longtime advocate for environmentalism, Dunn said she can recall her enthusiasm 15 years ago when PennFuture formed.

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Polish Hill Trick or Treat Watch
1:37 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

Pittsburgh Community Starts Project to Protect its Trick-or-Treaters

Halloween, the scariest night of the year, is always filled with plenty of things that go bump in the night, but there is one thing trick-or-treaters shouldn’t have to be afraid of - a speeding car.

The Polish Hill Civic Association (PHCA) is launching a project to help protect trick-or-treaters this Thursday night in that Pittsburgh community. Drivers going through the historic neighborhood will be met by volunteers at intersections, holding signs and giving out treats to safe drivers.

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teacher contracts 2 week notice bill
3:24 am
Mon October 28, 2013

New State Bill Would Allow 2 Weeks of Transparency Before Approving Salary Contracts

A state lawmaker is proposing legislation that would help taxpayers know more about what they’re paying their teachers.  

State Representative Fred Keller (R - Snyder) is introducing a bill that would require a two-week period of “openness” before school boards could approve any proposed collective bargaining agreements with teachers.

The board would be required to post the proposed contract details to its publicly accessible website, as well as in a local newspaper of general circulation at least two weeks before the agreement is put to a vote.

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