Liz Reid

Editor

Liz Reid began working at WESA in 2013 as a General Assignment Reporter and Weekend Host. Since then, she’s worked as the Morning Edition Producer, Health & Science Reporter and currently as an Editor. Liz came to Pittsburgh from KRPS public radio in Southeast Kansas, where she was a Feature Producer and the local host of All Things Considered. Previously, Liz interned and freelanced at KQED public radio in San Francisco. She has an MA in Broadcast & Electronic Communication Arts from San Francisco State University, where she also taught audio production classes. She’s done stints working in academia and the music industry, but she’s happiest in a public radio setting. When Liz is not reporting and hosting at 90.5 WESA, she likes to play baseball, cook, read and go camping.

Ways to Connect

The deadline to apply to be part of the first annual Pittsburgh Fringe Festival is rapidly approaching.

Founder and Executive Director Dan Stiker said Fringe celebrates theatre that is bizarre, challenging, and obscure.

“It started in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1947 and has since become an international movement of theatre that’s … not seen on the main stages that you’d typically see theatre on,” said Stiker.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Many of us will spend the next few days with friends and family, sharing meals and opening gifts. But for the poor, homeless and hungry, the holidays can present special challenges.

“I would think the holidays … could be a really difficult time for someone who might not have family or might not have the means to provide the gifts or the food that are so traditionally associated with the holiday,” said Kate Wadsworth, public relations manager for Light of Life Rescue Mission.

Wikimedia Commons

The iconic Wholey’s smiling fish sign has looked down over the Strip District for nearly 25 years, but it will soon need to find a new home.

The building which housed Wholey’s Wholesale until 2007 will soon be redeveloped, which means the sign needs to come down.

Jim Wholey, president of Wholey’s, said he wants the public’s help in determining where the smiling fish’s new home should be.

“That’s part of Pittsburgh, that’s part of the fabric,” Wholey said. “We owe it to Pittsburgh to let them decide where that sign’s gonna go.”

At the end of next year, the contract between the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Highmark Health Plan will expire, and many Western Pennsylvanians are worried about losing access to the doctors and hospitals they have patronized for years.

In October, a pair of Pennsylvania House representatives introduced legislation that would impose new rules on nonprofit integrated delivery networks, like UPMC, which offer both healthcare and health insurance.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Students from the Pittsburgh School for the Creative and Performing Arts enjoyed an opportunity to hear from two Pittsburgh VIPs on Tuesday: painter Burton Morris and Mayor-elect Bill Peduto.

Three dozen CAPA students took in the Morris exhibit at the Heinz History Center, which includes more than 100 of his works. They were also tasked with the responsibility of choosing one piece to hang in the mayor’s office, once Peduto takes over on Jan. 6.

The Allegheny County Airport Authority will hold a public workshop Tuesday to answer questions about oil and gas development plans at Pittsburgh International Airport.

A vote on whether the Strip District’s Fruit Auction and Sales Building should be designated as a historic structure will be delayed another week.

Council’s newest member, Deb Gross, represents the Strip District, and is in favor of preserving the building to the fullest extent possible.

“Having said the word 'preserve,' everyone  understands that some modifications are going to be needed to that property in order for it to achieve a positive function in the Strip District and a positive function in the business mix,” Gross said.

Pittsburghers who have a habit of cutting it close when driving through yellow lights may want to make some adjustments.

City Council passed a bill Tuesday to install automated red light enforcement systems, also known as “red light cameras,” at the city’s most dangerous intersections.

Councilman and Mayor-elect Bill Peduto said he was supportive of the legislation, and that he had introduced a similar bill several years ago.

Fifteen years after tobacco companies agreed to pay restitution to states for costs related to tobacco use, a new report finds that most states are not spending enough of that money on smoking prevention and cessation programs.

Pittsburgh area researchers are getting a major boost in their ability to share datasets, thanks to the work of the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center.

The Center is a collaboration of the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University and Westinghouse Energy Center, and provides Internet connectivity to many universities and research centers in Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia through the Three Rivers Optical Exchange Internet2 system.

Joey Kennedy / Handmade Arcade

Shoppers will spend the next few weeks looking for the perfect holiday gifts for the special people in their lives.

For the 10th year in a row, the Handmade Arcade is offering Pittsburghers the opportunity to purchase one-of-a-kind, handmade gifts at their annual event on Saturday.

Jennifer Baron is one of the co-organizers of the craft fair, and said the Handmade Arcade can provide shoppers a respite from the fatigue of Black Friday.

Mayor-elect Bill Peduto and his team have repeatedly said they want to implement a data-driven approach to governance, but in Tuesday’s budget hearing, questions arose as to whether City Information Systems, or CIS, has the resources to provide the kind of data the future mayor will need.

CIS is responsible for a wide variety of tasks, including, but not limited to, network administration, website development and maintenance, software development, voice and data communications and operating the 311 response center.

Pittsburgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority is facing massive cuts under Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s proposed 2014 budget.

At a City Council budget hearing on Tuesday, Robert Rubenstein, acting executive director of the URA, said he was disappointed with the proposed budget’s $2.2 million cut to the authority’s budget.

People living in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area are significantly more likely to contact their public officials, attend public meetings, volunteer and join community groups than the average American.

That’s according to a new report, called the Pittsburgh Civic Health Index from the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University and the National Conference on Citizenship.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

    

When Danny Chew does something, he does it all the way. The cyclist's goal is to ride a million miles over the course of his lifetime.

The 51-year-old Pittsburgh native has won the Race Across America twice, riding 3,000 miles in eight days on three hours of sleep each night. So it’s only natural he’s the guy responsible for what many consider to be the most grueling bike race in Pittsburgh: the Dirty Dozen.

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

Now to a mode of transportation better suited to the budget of a public radio reporter - bicycling. If you think cyclists are not among the toughest athletes, well, you haven't been to Pittsburgh. The city has some brutal hills which actually attract a certain breed of cyclists. As Liz Reid from member station WESA reports, cyclists have been attacking those hills for 30 years in an event called the Dirty Dozen.

It has been a little more than a week since the United States Justice Department completed its investigation of a rash of preventable deaths at the Pittsburgh Veteran’s Affairs Healthcare System.

Five veterans died of Legionnaires’ disease at the Pittsburgh VA in 2011 and 2012, while more than 20 other patients were sickened. The Justice Department has concluded that no VA employees are criminally liable for the deaths.

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

One of Pittsburgh’s most popular bicycling events turns 30 years old this Saturday.

The Dirty Dozen bike race challenges cyclists to climb the 13 steepest hills in the city. The 50-mile route takes riders from Highland Park, through the North Hills and the North side, across the Roberto Clemente and Smithfield Street bridges, through the South Hills and the South Side, ending in Hazelwood.

City Council Monday held a hearing with Budget Director Bill Urbanic. The takeway: The city is doing OK, but it could do better. Urbanic said the city’s margin between revenues and expenditures is “razor thin.”

“We’ve addressed many of the underlying problems in the last few years, with the help of Act 47 oversight,” Urbanic said. “The 2014 budget shows we’re staying balanced, as usual, but revenue is still going to be an issue, now and into the near future. We need at least $20 million annually.”

A proposal to rename the four streets that make up Penn Circle was introduced in City Council Monday.

Justin Miller, a senior planner with the Pittsburgh City Planning Department, says the change has been a long time coming.

“Two legs of Penn Circle have already been converted to two-way traffic," he said. "It doesn’t function as a circle anymore. In the near future, we’ve got a project to convert the other two parts of Penn Circle, Penn Circle North and West, also to two-way traffic.”

Mayor-elect Bill Peduto saw his plan to offer early retirement to some city employees move forward in City Council Monday.

The plan would allow 136 city employees, whose age plus years of employment equals 70 years, to begin collection their pensions early. Currently that number has to equal 80. The employees must also be at least 50 years old and have no less than 8 years of service to the city.

Peduto says this is all part of his vision for a major shakeup at City Hall.

After more than nine months of discussion, Pittsburgh City Council Monday passed a minimum staffing policy for the Bureau of Police.

The policy authorizes the chief of police to initiate a new class in the training academy once the police force falls to 98 percent of the budgeted union sworn police personnel. The class itself would be equal to 5 percent of the budgeted number of officers.

The 2013 and 2014 budgets both allot for 892 officers. The Bureau of Police currently has 840 officers, far less than the 874 officers needed to initiate hiring.

Flickr user rwoan

Nearly 200 couples from as far away as California will be renewing their wedding vows at Heinz Chapel’s 75th anniversary celebration on Saturday.

Pat Gibbons is the director of Heinz Chapel, located on the University of Pittsburgh campus. She said the response to this weekend’s festivities has far exceeded her expectations. Including 196 married couples, she is anticipating around 560 guests for the vow-renewal ceremony.

A City Council vote on Mayor-elect Bill Peduto’s plan to incentivize the early retirement of roughly 400 city employees has been delayed once again, and may even have hit a major snag.

Councilman Ricky Burgess wants to tie the bill to increased funding for the Pittsburgh Summer Youth Employment Program, or PSYEP.

Burgess said it’s a matter of priorities.

Representatives of more than a dozen local food banks and other public service organizations made their annual plea to Pittsburgh City Council for Community Development Block Grant funding on Tuesday.

The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank asked for $200,000, which is consistent with what they received in years past.

Many of the people who run for, and win, municipal offices are not career politicians. They are every day people who want to make a difference in their communities, according to Susan Hockenberry, executive director of the Local Government Academy, or LGA.

“Serving in municipal government is like nothing people have done before,” said Hockenberry. “It’s very rewarding, but it can be very demanding as well.”

A broad coalition of environmental and community groups Monday urged Pittsburgh City Council to pursue green infrastructure solutions to the city’s storm water overflow problem.

For well over a decade, scientists have known about a class of polymers that would react to and move toward light with no other power source.

While certainly fascinating, the technology was limited in its application in the real world, because the movement was so slow.

“So we asked ourselves, can we make these materials move faster and increase the mechanical power that they generate?”

Elementary and secondary schools in the Pittsburgh region are increasingly interested in integrating gardening into their curricula. At least, that’s what it looks like from where Jake Seltman is sitting.

Seltman is the director of educational programming at Grow Pittsburgh, a nonprofit organization that provides gardening and farming education to people of all ages.

Seltman said that in the last six months he’s fielded 22 requests from schools and school districts to bring the Edible Schoolyard program to their schools.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly has just four voting days left this year, and they still have not passed a transportation funding bill. A Senate bill that would fund roads, bridges and public transit has been languishing since it was passed in June.

Now, a local nonprofit is trying to turn up the heat on key legislators by calling the constituents in their districts.

Pages