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.

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CDC

The number of Pennsylvanians infected with acute hepatitis C more than doubled from 2009 to 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC report shows that after the infection rate leveled off for a few years, it jumped from 39 cases per every 100,000 Pennsylvanians in 2009 to 81 in 2013, the latest year data is available. That translates to about 10,000 Pennsylvanians currently living with the liver disease.

waferboard / flickr

More than $18 million in grants will help Allegheny County’s homeless population by funding housing and jobs programs in the region.

Social service agencies in the county were recently awarded $3.6 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, to combat homelessness. And in March, another $14.6 million in HUD grants was doled out to assist women, teens, veterans, ex-offenders and other homeless individuals.

Nadya Peek / Flickr

The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot for the April 26 primary is Tuesday, and Chris Borick, a political scientist at Muhlenberg College, said he expects more absentee voters than in previous years.

“That’s not surprising given that the primary season this year is actually relevant on both the Democratic and Republican sides,” said Borick. “There’s actual competition this year.”

In the 2012 Pennsylvania presidential primary, there were 280,000 absentee ballots cast, according to the state Bureau of Elections. 

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The former Gladstone Middle School building in Hazelwood has sat vacant for 15 years.  

Now it soon could have a new owner and new life.

The Hazelwood Initiative, a neighborhood development group, has signed papers to purchase the building from Pittsburgh Public Schools for $250,000.

The school board in November awarded the Initiative the option to buy the building, and since then the two sides have been finalizing the language of the agreement.

Legislation that was intended to require more people who work with children to get criminal background checks might have actually created a loophole for doctors and other hospital personnel.

“Something just got lost” when the bill was crafted, said state Sen. Randy Vulakovich, an Allegheny County Republican.

The bill was one of 20 approved over the last three years to update the Child Protective Services Law in the wake of the child molestation scandal involving former Pennsylvania State University Assistant Football Coach Jerry Sandusky.

Luke H. Gordon / Flickr

Some 12,000 daily riders of the Port Authority’s light rail Red Line are going to have to find an alternative mode of transportation for six months starting March 27. 

The transit agency will replace a nearly mile-long stretch of deteriorating tracks and street pavement in Beechview.

This section on Broadway Avenue, “has reached the end of its useful life,” according to Authority spokesman Jim Ritchie. And it has required “22 costly repairs” since 2008 to keep it open.

The Red Line provides service from the South Hills to Downtown and the North Shore. 

Update:  8:30 a.m.  The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania canceled its media briefing Monday on its legislative priorities due to the weekend's snowstorm. The organization instead issued a press release. 90.5 WESA News spoke with the group's executive director in advance of Monday's planned event.

In two weeks, Gov. Tom Wolf is expected to unveil his 2016-17 budget. But county leaders from across the state want to make sure the governor and lawmakers hear their legislative agendas first.

Pennsylvanians who fly can still use their state-issued driver’s license to board a commercial flight—for the next two years.

The Department of Homeland Security this month revised its schedule for enforcing the REAL I-D Act of 2005, a security measure Congress passed on the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission.

“At this point, there’s no impact on Pennsylvania citizens. They can continue to use a Pennsylvania driver’s license to board commercial aircraft,” said PennDOT spokesman Rich Kirkpatrick.

CCAC North Library / Flickr

Starting Wednesday, students at the Community College of Allegheny County will be able to earn a bachelor’s degree in education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania without leaving CCAC’s North Side campus. 

Daniel Oines / Flickr

 

The 90-year old structurally deficient Liberty Bridge will undergo its first major renovation in 30 years starting in April.

“It’s due,” said state Department of Transportation District Executive Dan Cessna.

Keith Srakocic / AP Photo

New Year's Eve traffic in and out of Pittsburgh for the First Night celebration might not so bad.

Parkway East will reopen at 2 p.m. Thursday, earlier than expected following Monday's implosion of the Greenfield Bridge.

Rhys A. / Flickr

Turnpike motorists, get ready to dig a little deeper.  Effective Jan. 3, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is hiking tolls for an eighth straight year.

Cash and E-ZPass customers will pay an additional 6 percent in 2016. E-ZPass remains the least expensive option at its discounted rate. 

“E-ZPass customers can save as much as 35 percent,” spokesman Carl DeFebo said.

Strange de Jim / Flickr

Cities like Pittsburgh continue to take the lead in providing legal protections for LGBT people and workers when states and the federal authorities have not, according to the fourth annual Municipal Equality Index by the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization.

“Pittsburgh should be pretty proud of their score,” said Cathryn Oakley, senior legislative counsel for HRC and the study's author.

Marcin Wichary / Flickr

Pennsylvania’s Superior Court upheld a nearly six- to 12-year sentence for a Chester woman convicted of illegally buying firearms for her felon boyfriend.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

  An estimated 750,000 hunters are expected to head into the woods Monday for the first day of antlered deer hunting season with firearms, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, and the administration is looking for advice from some of them.

Gov. Tom Wolf signed an executive order formally establishing the Governor’s Advisory Council for Hunting, Fishing and Conservation. 

90.5 WESA

  

Gov. Tom Wolf and legislative leaders this week agreed on a “framework” for a state budget with hopes for a full spending plan by Thanksgiving. The announcement comes nearly five months after the 2015-16 year began.

According to Senate minority leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny), the budget is expected to include about $5.9 billion for basic education funding for public school districts, a $200 million increase from this past year.

There is something special going on in Pittsburgh, according to Sara Schapiro, director of the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools

“We’re excited to showcase the region as a hub of education innovation,” she said.

Pittsburgh Mercy Health System

Jim Withers doesn’t consider himself a hero. But CNN disagrees. The network recently named the “doctor for the homeless” one of its Top Ten Heroes of 2015.

Voters can decide the nation's most inspirational hero online through November 15. CNN will announce the top hero of 2015 during a broadcast event December 6.  Each of the ten finalists will be awarded $10,000. 

courtesy, Powdermill Nature Reserve

John Wenzel believes there should be greater diversity among the ecologists working to preserve the globe’s biodiversity.

“We are not a very attractive career for a lot of minorities,” said Wenzel, director of Powdermill Nature Reserve, and that’s troubling.

“If you look at the ethnic composition of field ecologists, they’re overwhelmingly white Anglo, and the same way our studies of biology focus on diversity, most of us recognize we would probably do better as a field if we had a greater variety of people with different backgrounds and different perspectives doing the research itself.”

For a fourth straight month, Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate remained at 5.4 percent in August, the same as one year ago. During that same 12-month period, the U.S. rate dropped a full percentage point to the current 5.1 percent.

Official White House photo / Pete Souza

How Pittsburgh and Allegheny County can increase opportunities for boys and young men of color is the focus of two local forums this week.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto submitted Tuesday a $517.5 million operating budget for 2016 to the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority. The spending plan, which comes with no tax increases, is nearly $10 million, or 1.9 percent, more than this year’s budget. 

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.

allenran917 / Flickr

  Martha Isler, chairperson of the Pittsburgh Shade Tree Commission, has seen it all. 

Forgotten trees. Unwanted trees. Trees damaged by ill-advised pruning schedules. Trees poisoned by street salt. Someone once cut down a single tree to steal the bicycle it was chained to.

You can't just plant them and forget them, she said.

"Maintaining the health of those trees, that’s very important to us,” she said.

University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development

  Twenty Pittsburgh Public Schools welcomed hordes of excited and apprehensive kindergartners on Thursday with Freddy the Frog, a green frog mascot representing the district's readiness program.

“We make a big celebration for the kindergarten children coming in for the first time and for their parents,” said Carole Barone-Martin, Pittsburgh Public's executive director of early childhood education.

Three weeks after rejecting Yellow Cab’s request to impose a surcharge of up to $8 per trip on weekends and holidays, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has tentatively approved two other fare increases for the taxi service.

The PUC rejected one provision of the request but agreed to a jump in the flag drop rate — the starting amount on the meter — from the current $2.25 up to $4 and a 30-cent-per-minute increase in the wait time rate. The charge to customers to have drivers wait will cap at be 55 cents per minute.

Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group

Four out of 10 black people in Allegheny County wanting to buy a home are denied a mortgage. That's two times the rate of white applicants, according to data released Monday in the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group’s 21st Annual Mortgage Lending Study.

“The level of African American lending is extremely low compared to all other groups,” said Rachel Rue, researcher with the PCRG.

What does Pittsburgh have in common with Copenhagen, Hong Kong and Melbourne?

Each was selected as one of top 11 cities in the world “to live, work and play in” by Metropolis magazine for a particular livability feature: from walkability — Copenhagen, to culture — Hong Kong, to smart infrastructure — Melbourne.

The magazine, which deals with architecture and design, cited Toronto, Tokyo and Helsinki as the three most livable cities in the world overall. But Pittsburgh was honored for its advanced historic preservation.

Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health wants to know if state regulations for nursing homes need to be tightened, while the commonwealth’s senior U.S. senator wants to ensure the nationwide rating system of nursing homes is accurate.

Secretary of Health Karen Murphy announced the formation of a task force to determine what actions should be taken to improve the quality of nursing homes across the state. 

“It will include a comprehensive review of regulatory requirements affecting nursing homes and making recommendations on revisions to the regulations,” Murphy said.

Forty out of the 150 buildings in Wilkinsburg’s central business district are vacant, but borough officials are hoping that a new tool will help spur development in that distressed municipality.

Some of these properties have been vacant for a decade or two, according to Tracey Evans, executive director of the Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation (WCDC).  She said on one block just one of the nine buildings is occupied.

“That’s a huge loss visually for people driving through the business district," Evans said. "It looks blighted.”

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