Kevin Gavin

Director of Internships & Training; Executive Producer for Special News Projects

Kevin Gavin is a native Pittsburgher and has worked in public broadcasting since his college years. Gavin served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years, and following the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc., he was appointed Director of Internships and Training.

Ways To Connect

About 325 thousand older Pennsylvanians receive state subsidized prescriptions under the PACE and PACEnet pharmaceutical assistance programs. 

State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has begun a performance audit of the $400-million-a-year programs.

“Since so many older people depend on these programs, we want to make sure that they are being operated as efficiently and effectively as possible to ensure that the prescription benefits will be available in the future to those who need it,” he said.

No one has ever seen dark matter, and its origin is unknown, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon, Brown and Cambridge universities believe they may have evidence of another characteristic of dark matter.

The researchers found that a newly discovered dwarf galaxy orbiting our galaxy, the Milky Way, shows evidence that it’s emitting gamma rays.

U.S. Department of Education

“This is not just an education law,” says U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, “this is a civil rights law.”

Duncan is referring to the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA, which is up for reauthorization by Congress. 

“The law is outdated and fundamentally broken. We need Congress to get past this dysfunction and fix the law,” Duncan said.

President Lyndon Johnson signed ESEA as part of his war on poverty. The original intent was to ensure that federal resources would help disadvantaged and special-needs children.

Some of the big ticket items in Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed budget for FY 2015-16 include $6.1 billion for basic education for public schools across the commonwealth and $2.27 billion for the Department of Corrections to operate state prisons.

A smaller line item in the governor’s $29.9 billion spending plan is for human services at the county level. 

“We will restore a small amount of funding,” Wolf said in his budget address March 3. “It’s not a lot of money, but it is important money.”

Allegheny County Department of Human Services

“It’s about loving your fellow Pittsburgher,” says Jon Potter who wants to create a new kind of homeless shelter.

Potter, who owns a hostel in Lawrenceville, told 90.5's Essential Pittsburgh the city has a lot of shelters that “do really good work,” but he’s trying to develop a cooperatively owned “Pittsburgh Home.”

“We want to essentially buy a house and have it be multi-unit so we can have separation of genders or even families,” Potter said.  “Then we’re going to be renting it out for a dollar a year so they can have a lease, they can prove residency, and they can prove they’ve had a landlord before to help them get off the street and get their own home eventually.”

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Governor Tom Wolf has announced a moratorium on the death penalty, calling the state’s capital sentencing system “riddled with flaws.”

“The only certainty in the current system is that the process will be drawn out, expensive, and painful for all involved,” said Wolf in a written statement released Friday.

The moratorium will remain in effect until Wolf has reviewed the forthcoming report of the Pennsylvania Task Force and Advisory Commission on Capital Punishment.

Nearly two weeks after granting a two-year experimental license to Uber, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) did the same Thursday for Lyft, the other major ridesharing service in the state.

The commission voted 5-0 to approve Lyft’s compliance plan, which was mandated by the Dec. 18 order which granted an experimental license if Lyft demonstrated that it was meeting  specific conditions to ensure driver integrity, vehicle safety and insurance protections.

Duquesne University

John E. Murray, former president of Duquesne University, died Wednesday at age 82.  

When he was named to the post in 1988, Murray became the first non-clergy president of the Catholic university. He retired as president in 2001 and was appointed university chancellor, a post he held until his death.

While president, Murray chaired ComPAC 21, the Home Rule Charter Commission, whose work led to the change in Allegheny County government from a three-commissioner based model to the current chief executive and 15-member council.

Administrators at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System Thursday temporarily closed the behavioral health units to new patients to prevent the spread of Norovirus. 

The virus, commonly known as stomach flu, was first believed to have been detected last Friday.

Governor Tom Wolf on Thursday reversed an order by his Republican predecessor, Tom Corbett, by issuing an executive order banning new gas drilling leases in state forests and parks.

Wolf’s order supersedes that signed by Corbett last May to resume issuing drilling leases for forests and parks.

In 2010 then Gov. Ed Rendell issued the moratorium—two years after his administration first allowed drilling in state forests.

The leader of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh was hoping to raise $125 million in a first of its kind campaign for the diocese “to strengthen parishes and evangelize.”

The Our Campaign for The Church Alive instead brought in $230 million in pledges with nearly $63 million received to date.  “I continued to emphasize this campaign was really not about the money, it was about continuing the work of the church,” said Bishop David Zubik.  “ It (the amount pledged) shows that our people love their faith and are willing to make sacrifices for it.”

December was “pretty quiet,” but January is proving to be a “little more complicated” in treating Pittsburgh’s streets, said city Public Works Director Mike Gable.

“Every event is a different coordination of how many people you need and what we need to do and when you need to start, he said. "I’ve been very happy with what our crews have performed up to this date.”

So when the next snowfall hits, do you want to know when your city street might be salted and plowed?

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

The housing market in the 13-county Pittsburgh region is showing “steady progress’ going into 2015, according to Tom Hosack, president of the West Penn Multi-List.

“We project the market will be up, probably the high single digits (percentage increase) and we think that steady increase is exactly what we need. When things jump at some point you have to pay the piper. So we want just steady growth,” Hosack says, not volatility.

For a growing number of companies in the Pittsburgh region, the bottom line is including more than gross revenues, operating costs and net profit.

Over the last five years, the demand by investors for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reporting by companies has tripled, and more and more Pittsburgh area firms are now incorporating sustainability and CSR data with their traditional financial reporting.

The unemployment rate in the seven-county Pittsburgh labor market dipped to 4.8 percent in November.

“The last time the rate was this low was in April 2008 when the rate was also at 4.8 percent,” said Ashley Yanchunas, business and industry analyst with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

The number of area residents with jobs rose by 4,700 and the number of those out of work fell by 2,700 last month.

The U.S Environmental Protection Agency has approved Pennsylvania’s 2014 Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment report for streams, rivers and lakes across the state.

According to Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Amanda Whitman, the report is required every two years by the federal Clean water Act.

“Pennsylvania has roughly 86,000 stream miles and compiling this report, collecting  the data, analyzing that data and producing the report is a significant accomplishment,” Whitman said.

Major roadway projects were completed this past year in the Pittsburgh area, but several others will get underway or continue in 2015.

“2014 was a significant year,” said Dan Cessna, District 11 executive for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. “We completed the fourth phase of Liberty Tunnel. We completed Squirrel Hill Tunnels, and most significantly we wrapped up four years of construction on Route 28.”

When the U.S. Senate reconvenes Jan. 6 for the start of a new Congressional session, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) will find himself in the minority party for the first time in his eight years in that office.

Through the November elections the Republicans gained control of the Senate for the first time since losing the majority in January 2007. The Republicans now hold a 10-seat advantage 54-44 over the Democrats with two independents — Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine.

Vantage Energy Appalachia has been fined $999,900 by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for more than a dozen violations of regulations in connection with a Jan. 15 landslide as well as illegal waste disposal at a well pad in Franklin Township, Greene County.

An incoming Pennsylvania state senator wants to make sure there are no incidents in the commonwealth similar to those in Ferguson, Missouri and New York where local prosecutors investigated the deaths of citizens at the hands of police officers, and no charges were filed.

State Senator-elect Arthur Haywood (D-Montgomery) said Friday he will introduce legislation January 6, the day he’s sworn in to office, that would require the state Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor whenever there’s a deadly force incident and a police officer is involved.

The Public Utility Commission has approved with conditions the application by Lyft to offer ridesharing services statewide for two years.

“Those conditions mainly address the concerns the commission has been expressing all along that these companies are proving that they are using safe drivers and they are doing background checks on drivers, that the vehicles they are operating are safe, and that they have the proper insurance,” said PUC spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher.

"It's hard to make predictions around here and be accurate," says U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) about the fate of the $1.1 trillion budget.

It's now up to the Senate to pass the huge  spending bill to keep the government running through the end of the current fiscal year — Sept. 30.  

Earlier this month the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission gave conditional approval to the ride-sharing service Uber to offer “experimental” service across most of Pennsylvania, including Pittsburgh, for two years.

One of those conditions is that Uber drivers must be insured for all three stages of the ride-sharing process: turning the app on and making yourself available for hire; transporting the passenger; and, dropping off that customer. 

So Erie Insurance is trying to fill the gap in coverage. 

“This is the most damning audit in terms of the findings in my tenure,” says Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner.

The controller is referring to an audit of Corizon, the Tennessee-based firm contracted to manage the infirmary and health care for inmates at the County Jail. Corizon provides health services at other jails and prisons across the country, including Rikers in New York

Wagner said Corizon, which is paid $11 million a year, is failing to provide clinical care to inmates. 

Ground was broken Wednesday on a four-story academic building at Central Catholic High School in Oakland that will be devoted exclusively to STEM—science, technology, engineering and math.

According to Brother Bob Schaefer, Central’s principal, the facility will include state of the art labs for traditional sciences with a focus on the “T” and “E” in STEM.  “We’re going to have an entire area of the building that’s dedicated to those kind of pre-engineering and computer science and particularly opportunities for the students to develop some courses with the robotics technology.”

According to the Allegheny County Health Department, one in six HIV-positive individuals are unaware they have the virus.

On this World AIDS Day, the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force and the health department are looking to reduce that number through outreach.

“You can make a big impact by raising awareness [because] it’s a preventable infection,” says Areej Ali, AmeriCorps member and volunteer coordinator with the AIDS task force. “Conversations matter, getting people to know about it, to protect themselves. Those things really make a difference.

If you will be traveling the Pennsylvania Turnpike during this Thanksgiving holiday weekend, you’ll have company….lots of company.

The Turnpike Commission expects 2.7 million vehicles using the toll road from Tuesday until Monday December 1.

“The day before Thanksgiving is our single busiest travel holiday of the year,” says Turnpike spokesman Carl DeFebo. “We’re expecting more than a half million vehicles (Wednesday) across the turnpike system. “

More than 400 teachers, administrators, librarians, artists, out-of-school educators, mentors, parents and students crowded a ballroom at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center Friday to discuss how to create a more integrated learning environment in Pittsburgh.

Courtesy photo

Ryan Ahl enlisted in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard in 2002 and was eventually commissioned as a second lieutenant.

Ahl said his fondest memories from two deployments to Iraq were the days spent occupying observational posts and knowing he had the support of his fellow soldiers.

“You’re in a war zone and you’re with three of your closest buddies and anything could happen," he said. "And it normally did.”

Ahl said he feels part of something bigger than himself. He has gained a respect for freedom and understanding of other cultures through his service.

Syphilis cases in Allegheny County have risen about 75 percent this year compared to 2013, the Allegheny County Health Department said Wednesday.

As of Nov. 10, 98 syphilis cases have been reported in the county, compared to 56 this time last year. After a drop in cases in the late 1990s and early 2000s, syphilis has been on the rise since 2005, locally and nationally.  

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