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."

Ways To Connect

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.

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.” 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

PA Lags in Renewable Energy Standards

Nov 12, 2013

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.”  

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Haldan Kirsch / 90.5 WESA

More than 1,000 protesters marched from the North Side to downtown Monday for the 2013 Power Shift summit.

Power Shift is an online community for youth climate activists who are calling for a “green economy” and a stop to mountaintop removal mining.

The protesters called for PNC Bank to stop financing mountaintop mining, which involves exposing and taking out upper seams of coal, according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

For cancer patients, the burden of treatment can be so heavy that their overall quality of life is overlooked as recovery takes precedence. Elements of wellness such as movement, touch, nutrition, and mindfulness will be addressed by The Hillman Cancer Center at its inaugural Integrated Cancer Wellness Fair on October 23 at UPMC Shadyside Hospital.

November 22nd marks the 50th anniversary of one of the nation’s most historic assassinations - the shooting of President John F. Kennedy. Officially the investigation of the shooting was closed with the publication of the Warren Commission in 1964, though today 80% of Americans disagree with the report’s conclusions, according to Kennedy assassination expert Dr. Cyril Wecht.

Bishop David Zubik and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh are suing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services after being forced to cover the cost of birth control methods that contradict the beliefs of the church.

An organization is passing a baton along the Ohio River using human-powered transportation to bring attention to the potential dangers the shale gas industry poses to water supplies.

The Great Ohio River Relay kicked off Sept. 14 at the Mr. Rogers Memorial Statue where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers merge to form the Ohio. It will travel the entire 981 miles of the Ohio River to Cairo, Ill. where it feeds into the Mississippi.

Want to get cultured and take in some of Pittsburgh’s finest attractions, for free?

This Saturday marks the beginning of RADical Days. Cultural venues across the county will be opening their doors for special, free admission events into November. This annual program is meant as a way for organizations that receive tax revenues to thank the public for their support.

Haldan Kirsch / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Banjo Club has been playing together for 25 years, but it still manages to get audiences clapping, singing and dancing along to some of the biggest hits of the 1920s and '30s, as well as a few Pittsburgh favorites.

Every Wednesday night the group puts on a show for a diverse audience at the Elks Lodge in Pittsburgh's North Side. The music starts at 8 p.m.

Haldan Kirsch / 90.5 WESA

Fifteen years ago, the Allegheny Cycling Association was hosting their summer cycling races in the parking lot of the Pittsburgh Zoo.

Today, racers have found a more fitting home at the Bud Harris Cycling Track in Highland Park. Formerly a driver training course, according to the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, the track is a half-mile concrete oval featuring banked walls and a slight hill.

Haldan Kirsch / 90.5 WESA

The identity of Pittsburgh is synonymous with the steel industry. The city’s largest skyscraper is the U.S. Steel Tower. Its football team is the Steelers, and to the nation, it's the Steel City.

But what about the city’s other industries? Before the rise of steel businesses in the region, western Pennsylvania was the center of glass sales in the United States.

Haldan Kirsch / 90.5 WESA

The Gateway Clipper is celebrating its 55th year on Pittsburgh's three rivers. Going for a ride on any of the Clipper's six ships gives Pittsburghers a chance to travel under its famous bridges and listen to their voice echo against Pittsburgh steel. 

The Clipper offers one-hour sightseeing cruises, shuttle services to the North Shore for sporting events and specialty and theme cruises. The fleet is also available for event rentals.