Mark Nootbaar

Senior News Editor

Mark Nootbaar is a native of Illinois but moved to Pittsburgh more than 16 years ago to become the Assistant News Director at National Public Radio Charter Member Station WDUQ. As assistant News Director, Mark served as WDUQ’s lead reporter and morning assignment editor. After WDUQ was sold in 2011, Mark moved with the frequency to the new station to become the Senior News Editor where he is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the 90.5 WESA newsroom. Mark has also worked in Illinois and Texas. He lives in the North Hills with his lovely wife and daughter.

 

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Transportation
10:39 am
Wed July 2, 2014

Judges Say No to Uber and Lyft Again

Two administrative law judges have agreed with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to force two ride-share companies to stop operating in Pittsburgh.

The judges issued their rulings Tuesday, five days after PUC attorneys argued that Lyft and Uber are violating state rules that govern paid transportation services.

Uber, Lyft and other ride-share companies use smartphone apps to dispatch drivers who use their own personal vehicles.

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Environment & Energy
4:23 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

DEP Reviewing Thousands of Comments on Overhaul of Drilling Regulations

Pennsylvania environmental regulators are wading through more than 25,000 public comments on a proposed overhaul of the state’s oil and gas regulations.

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Health
1:25 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

UPMC, Highmark Reach Transition Deal

A blueprint for what Pennsylvania officials hope will be a smooth transition for Highmark Insurance customers currently using UPMC doctors has been agreed to by both non profit organizations but the details have yet to be reached. 

“This as really been a bipartisan approach,” said Highmark CEO David Holmberg who just two weeks ago did not think such a deal was possible.  “This has been about everybody putting their swords down and doing the right things.”

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:35 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Organizers Hope Point Park Is Just The First to Unionize

Credit Robert Couse-Baker / Flickr

Point Park University Adjunct Facility have voted to unionize and the administration seems to be ready to let that happen. 

“This is long over due,” said PPU adjunct English and French teacher Rebecca Taksel.  “We adjuncts… have been marginalized for so long.”

Following the 172-79 vote, the University responded with a written statement, which read in part,

“We are pleased that so many adjunct faculty members took the time to make their voices heard on this important issue. We respect the decision made by those eligible to vote and look forward to working with all faculty members to fulfill Point Park’s mission of educating the next generation.”

The university had originally fought the unionization effort run by the United Steel Workers. 

“As soon as we are officially recognized next Wednesday (July 2) we will be sending them (University administrators) a letter asking them for dates for bargaining,” said USW organizer Randa Ruge who thinks they will be able to negotiate better pay for the workers.

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Public Safety
4:19 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

City to Launch Massive Process to Hire Police Chief

Since before taking office, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has been promising that when it came time to hire a new police chief, the public would have ample opportunity to influence the process.  Today, he and Acting Public Safety Director Stephen Bucar laid out plans for six public meetings and a website dedicated to taking additional input. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:16 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

60-Year-Old Mellon Square Returns As A Downtown Refuge

Credit Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

When it opened in 1955, Mellon Square was the first garden plaza to be built on top of a parking garage, and the public flocked in to use it.

But despite efforts to renew the space over the decades, it started to fall into disrepair. Three years ago an effort to fully overhaul the one square block park was launched, and the ribbon will be cut once again Thursday morning.

"When we began the restoration here, literally hundreds of rats were running around the park,” said Phil Gruszka, parks manager of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.

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Economy & Business
1:14 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

Highmark Replaces CEO Winkenwerder

After less than two years at the helm, Highmark Inc. CEO Dr. William Winkenwerder has been replaced. 

The state’s largest insurer made the announcement this morning while also announcing that David L. Holmberg will step into the open post.

Holmberg has been with Highmark for the last seven years in several senior business operations roles. Most recently he served as President of Highmark Inc.'s Diversified Businesses. Prior to joining Highmark, Holmberg was the Executive Vice President for operations for Jo-Ann Stores, Inc.

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Election 2014
12:55 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

Where Do The Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates Stand On Issues Important To You?

Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates, from Left to Right: Rob McCord, Allyson Schwartz, Tom Wolf, Katie McGinty
Dem Campaign Websites and Facebook

Voters in Pennsylvania go to the poles Tuesday. Along with State Senate and House races, Democrats will be asked to choose from among four candidates vying for a chance to run for the governor's office in the November election.

Candidates in a field of four Democrats are fighting to earn the right to take on Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett in the November General Election. Voters will head to the polls Tuesday to make the selection.

Western Pennsylvania could play a major role in the outcome. None of the candidates have ties to the region but many political insiders think the way Allegheny County falls will dictate who wins the election.

Funding for education, taxing gas extraction from the Marcellus Shale, and growing the economy were among some of the topics that played large during the run up to the election.

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Government & Politics
12:01 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

FBI Agent Selected As Pittsburgh Public Safety Chief

Mayor Bill Peduto announced Wednesday that he has chosen FBI Special Agent Stephen A. Bucar as the city's new public safety director.

Bucar is currently assigned to the Washington, D.C. FBI office as a Supervisory Special Agent Section Chief in the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division. Peduto points out that Bucar has experience overseeing the analysis of information associated with domestic and international terrorism at both the federal level and for New York City.

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Election 2014
3:30 am
Mon May 12, 2014

Corbett: Wolf Is Not a Target

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is defending his use of campaign ads that focus on his would-be Democratic opponents, despite the fact that the primary has not yet been held.  

“If you look at the (Democratic) debates that have been going on and you look at the ads that are going on, they are running ads against me,” said Corbett, who calls his ads education pieces.

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Transportation
3:30 am
Mon May 12, 2014

PennDOT Wants More Input On Parkway East's Future

PennDOT wants to know what you think should be done to the Parkway East to reduce congestion and lower the number of accidents seen each year.

“We’re only going to look at things that would be something we can afford,” said PennDOT Dist. 11 Executive Dan Cessna. 

Ideas such as removing the Squirrel Hill Tunnel or completely reconfigure the highway will not be considered.

“These are affordable changes that could be done at the interchanges, to the networks of the traffic signal systems, other modifications to the lanes,” Cessna said.

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Health
1:26 pm
Fri May 9, 2014

Corbett Launches Heroin Working Group, Sets September Deadline

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is hoping a newly formed working group will be able to turn the tide of heroin overdose deaths in the Commonwealth. 

Corbett is calling for the working group, which will be chaired by Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Gary Tennis, to put a report on his desk by September.

“Yes I know that’s an aggressive time frame and I know that’s across the summer,” Corbett said.  “We don’t have the time to wait.”

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Arts & Culture
2:13 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Freed From Floppy Disks, New Warhol Art Is Discovered

Andy Warhol's early computer rendition of his iconic soup can.
Credit The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts

A cache of works by Andy Warhol has been unlocked from its digital jail and is about to seen by a wider audience for the first time. 

A multi-national team of computer scientists, art experts and museum employees “unlocked” the images from floppy disks created by technology that was cutting edge in 1980s but has long since gone defunct. 

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Environment & Energy
3:51 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

State DEP: No Health Concerns From Air Near Well Fire

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection says it found “no pollutants that would indicate a potential health concern for local residents or emergency responders” as a result of the Greene County Chevron well fire incident.

It took crews brought in by the company two weeks to cap the fire that broke out Feb. 11 in Dunkard Township. The fire claimed the life of one employee.

DEP spokesman John Poister said the department used temporary air monitoring devices to look at the levels of 57 different toxic air pollutants.

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Environment & Energy
2:04 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

Grab an Ice Cream (Or a Flight) and a Charge

Car charging stations are popping up like spring flowers this Earth Day. 

The Pennsylvania Turnpike officially unveiled its charging stations Monday and Pittsburgh International Airport followed suit Tuesday. 

The chargers on the Turnpike were installed this year at a pair of service plazas; Bowmansville Service Plaza in Lancaster County located eastbound at milepost 290 and King of Prussia in Montgomery County, located westbound at milepost 328. 

It took the cooperation of two government agencies and a private corporation to get the stations installed.

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Community
3:30 am
Mon April 21, 2014

For Pittsburghers, Return Trip To Boston Is Not To Be Missed

When the Boston Marathon steps off Monday morning there will be nearly 39,000 men and women ready to take to the 26-mile course. Several of them are from the Pittsburgh area, and some of them have memories of being part of the race last year that was halted after a pair of bombs detonated near the finish line. 

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Fracking
2:57 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Mars Parents Want Two-Mile Fracking Buffer

The fight over placing a nonconventional gas well about a half-mile from five Mars Area School District schools has moved out of the district’s boardroom and into the boardrooms of a pair of local townships.

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Election 2014
11:48 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Education the Focus of PA Governor Debate

Tom Wolf stands at the mic Tuesday night at a debate featuring all four Democratic gubernatorial candidates. (L-R) Rob McCord, Katie McGinty and Allyson Schwartz wait their turn to speak.
Credit Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Being “pro-recess” earned businessman and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf the biggest laugh of the night, but it was PA Treasurer Rob McCord, who is also running in the May 20 primary, who picked up the widest applause when he stepped to the microphone in Tuesday’s debate and simply said, “I’d kill ‘em” to the question of what each candidate would do with the high-stakes Keystone Exams.

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Economy & Business
7:25 am
Mon April 7, 2014

Land Bank Proposal Outside Of Pittsburgh Builds Speed

While a proposal to create a land bank in the city of Pittsburgh is getting bogged down by controversy, a similar plan that would include 40 municipalities in the Mon Valley and eastern reaches of Allegheny County is hurtling ahead without much dissention.

The Twin Rivers, Turtle Creek Valley and Steel Valley Councils of Governments began the process of creating a land bank program shortly after Gov. Tom Corbett signed enabling legislation in December of 2012. 

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Community
7:56 am
Fri April 4, 2014

City Makes Push for $30M Grant for Larimer

A small army of Larimer residents and city officials went on the offensive Thursday in an effort to convince the federal government that Pittsburgh is worthy of a $30 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“I want to win this,” said Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, who met with a small group of HUD officials early Thursday before turning the effort over to his representatives. 

“It would not only bring $30 million into Pittsburgh but (the redevelopment of Larimer) would become a national model of sustainable housing development,” Peduto said.

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Health
2:21 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Pittsburgher Takes on Diabetes Education as National Chair

Dr. Linda Siminerio is Professor of Medicine and Executive Director of the University of Pittsburgh Diabetes Institute
Credit UPMC Website

When the National Diabetes Education Program gathers for its annual meeting this summer it will install a Pittsburgher in its top elected position.  University of Pittsburgh Diabetes Institute Executive Director Linda Siminerio was elected as chair earlier this year.

The federally-funded program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Siminerio refers to the nation’s struggle with type II diabetes as an epidemic but warns that it is already a pandemic in other parts of the world.

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Energy
4:06 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Lawmaker Wants to Protect Customers' Electric Bills From Spikes

When the temperatures dropped across North America this winter, many Pennsylvanian’s saw their electricity bill skyrocket because they had contracts with their electric supplier that allowed for variable rates. Now a state senator hopes her legislation will help to protect consumers from unexpected spikes in the future.

Sen. Lisa Boscola (D-Northampton County) introduced legislation Wednesday that would among other things shorten the time it takes to switch from one rate plan to another. 

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Government & Politics
4:58 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Pittsburgh to Remain Under Act 47

PA Gov. Tom Corbett, with Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto at his side, announces that Pittsburgh will remain under Act 47
Credit Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

With the thanks of Pittsburgh’s mayor, Gov. Tom Corbett Thursday announced that the city would remain under the controls of Act 47. 

Pittsburgh entered into distressed-city status 10 years ago, and the Ravenstahl administration had argued in 2012 that enough progress had been made to release the city from its bonds.

“While Pittsburgh continues to take considerable steps in its efforts in stabilizing the city’s financial position, many conditions that originally led to the distressed determination have not been alleviated,” Corbett said.

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Election 2014
10:49 am
Thu March 13, 2014

Hanger Out of Democratic Race for PA Governor

John Hanger has withdrawn as a Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania Governor. The former Secretary of the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection made the decision official Thursday morning. 

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Economy & Business
3:58 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Blame It On The Weather: Home Sales Fall in February

The region’s real estate market in February tumbled compared to the same time in 2013, but many who keep track of the market say a lot of that dip had to do with the weather.

“Look at what we experienced last year in early spring, great weather, everybody was out and about,” said Barbara Kohl, West Penn Multi-List Chief Operating Officer. “This year it was total devastation, freezing rain, sleet, tons of snow. It’s really tough to get people motivated and moving to go out to open houses, and even look at homes, when the weather is so bad.”

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