Mark Nootbaar

Special Reporter

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. In 2016 he returned to his reporting roots as Special Reporter and in that context oversees such reporting projects as 90.5 WESA Celebrates, Tech Reports, and more.

Mark has also worked in Illinois and Texas. He lives in the North Hills with his lovely wife and daughter.

 

Ways to Connect

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Increasingly, when you find a trash can in a public place it has at least two openings—one for trash and one for recyclables. But according to Charles Yhap, humans don’t do a very good job of sorting what they throw in those cans.

“Americans typically achieve, when they have a 50-50 chance between two bins, it’s usually 30 percent,” said Yhap.

With that in mind, Yhap launched a company called CleanRobotics with a flagship product called Trashbot.

Joaquin Gonzalez / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh is using a quarter-million dollars in state grants to launch its effort to have a fossil-free vehicle fleet but 2030.

The funds from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Alternative Fuels Grant program must be matched dollar-for-dollar by the city.

The first grant is worth $80,000 and will be used to purchase as many as 10 electric vehicles.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

On a recent Tuesday morning, trucks filled with asphalt fed the black steaming material into a paving machine as it crept along Saline Street in The Run. Klaus Libertus has lived there for two years and said, before the paving crew arrived, driving down the street was "vibrating."

But it had its benefits.

“If you had kids in the back you wanted to get to sleep, it would help," he said. "I mean they used to say 'the patches had patches.'"

Damian Dovarganes / AP, File

Pennsylvania handed out licenses to 12 companies to grow marijuana for medicinal uses last week, and is expected to license producers and dispensaries soon. However, it could be tough for those businesses to get bank accounts.

Although Pennsylvania has legalized medical marijuana, it's still illegal at the federal level. That means all of the proceeds from growing, producing or selling it are illegal as far as the federal government is concerned.

Carnegie Mellon University via Creative Commons

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are hoping a new quarterly report will help policymakers and the public keep track of the carbon dioxide impact of the nation’s electricity industry.

Along with reporting the total amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere by all electricity plants, the quarterly Power Sector Carbon Index will break down the data by the type of generating plant.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

CMU Robotics Institute assistant professor Stelian Coros was working to find ways to make animated characters navigate their simulated environments, such as in a video game or a movie, when he realized his work could be used to design and virtually test robots.

“And what I’m really excited about is moving towards a new paradigm where robots will be able to approach the complexity of biological structures in both form and in function,” Coros said. 

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County has thousands of employees, but one of them has a rather unusual title. 

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 fm WESA

A deal that is expected to grow the region’s biotech sector has been inked by established biotech firm Helomics and the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse.

“We did a survey… and one of the things we recognized is the scientific community [in Pittsburgh] is missing an incubator where diagnostic people, pharmaceutical people and biotech people can get together,” Pittsburgh Life Science Greenhouse President and CEO James Jordan said.

Jay LaPrete / AP

Time is running out for the millions of Pennsylvania eligible for a delinquent tax amnesty program being offered by the state.

The state legislature created the program as part of the 2016-17 budget with the expectation of collecting an additional $100 million in back taxes.  That’s on top of the roughly $600 million in back taxes collected each year by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.

Under the program, the state will waive the 5 percent penalty and half of the interest.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

When police are called to the scene of a drug overdose they can treat it as a crime scene or an accident scene.  Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala wants it to be treated as a crime scene.

“Over the last year in Allegheny County, we’ve trained about 50 different police departments what they should do when they come on the scene,” Zappala said. “You have to move quickly [to gather evidence] but detectives have been trained specifically in those kinds of things.”

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Until this week, the Mid Mon Transit Authority in Donora had eight Compressed Natural Gas, or CNG, fueled buses but no permanent place to fill them. That's changed thanks to a public-private partnership between the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Trillium CNG.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

RE2 Robotics first spun out of Carnegie Mellon University in 2001 to build off-road vehicles for the U.S. Department of Defense, but now its researchers are working to develop the next generation of robotic arms.

The 40 people who work at the Lawrenceville-based company now focus on building arms for robots used to defuse improvised explosive devices, or IEDs.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Despite a bomb threat for Market Square called in to Pittsburgh Police Saturday morning, a few hundred protestors marched from the City County Building on Grant Street to show their disdain for President Donald Trump.

Margaret Sun/90.5 WESA and Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

In a strongly worded statement, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto rejected President Donald Trump’s use of Pittsburgh in his announcement of the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The Allegheny County Airport Authority has handed out more than $2 million in grants to small airlines to entice them to expand service at Pittsburgh International and the head of the authority says more can be expected.

The largest of the grants was made a year ago to California-based OneJet, which since then has expanded service from its original two cities to a total of seven.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania law mandates school districts submit preliminary budgets by the last day of May, and several Superintendents across the state used Wednesday’s milestone to call for more financial support from the state.

“Without increased state funding we will, at some point, loose the ability to provide the same level of education that we have,” Gary Peiffer, Carlynton School District Superintendent, said.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 fm WESA

Every day, about 200 barrels of something called produced water bubbles out of each of the roughly 9,600 shale gas wells in Pennsylvania. The water is laced with chemicals and minerals, and since energy companies have been fracking gas wells, they have tried to figure out the best way to deal with it.

Kiichiro Sato / AP

Legislation to allow PennDOT to issue REAL ID-compliant drivers licenses is about to be signed by Gov. Tom Wolf, but that doesn't mean the ID in your pocket will truly be compliant with the federal standards.

As of June 7, non-compliant IDs will no longer be accepted for admittance into federal and nuclear facilities. TSA officials will stop accepting them for air travel as of Jan. 22, 2018.

Final Cosby Jury Selections Made In Allegheny County

May 24, 2017
Gene J. Puskar / AP

**UPDATED: 6:12 p.m. Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Half of the new jury pool being questioned Wednesday in Bill Cosby's sexual assault case said they've formed an opinion on his guilt or innocence, and another knows Cosby or his family.

All 12 jurors and six alternates have been chosen this week for the case starting June 5 in suburban Philadelphia. Those who have opinions weren't necessarily disqualified if they convinced the judge they could put that aside and focus on the evidence.

Cosby's lawyers have complained about prosecutors striking two black women.

CMU via Youtube

Touch screens have become part of our everyday lives, but the technology has its limits. They are always relatively flat and are fixed to another product, like a cell phone or a computer.

But researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have figured out a way to make just about any object into a touch sensitive device.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

UPDATED: 7:31 p.m. on May 23, 2017. 

At the end of the day on Tuesday, 11 jurors had been selected to serve on the panel that will hear Bill Cosby's sexual assault case. Ten of the jurors are white; only one is African American. The court will have new pool of 100 potential jurors to question on Wednesday in an effort to find one additional juror and six alternates.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 fm WESA

Bill Newlin has had a hand in so many successful technology companies in Pittsburgh, that some people call him the "godfather" of tech startups. It’s a title he doesn't boast about himself, but his record of investing and supporting early-stage companies speaks loudly.

90.5 WESA’s Mark Nootbaar spoke with him about how he got into the venture capital game and why he has been so successful.

Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

MARK NOOTBAAR: There is not a venture capitalist major in college, so how did you get started?

Matt Rourke / AP

A judge and several lawyers from Montgomery County, Pennsylvania will be in Pittsburgh Monday to pick a jury to take back to suburban Philadelphia. The 12 jurors and six alternates will be tasked with hearing the sexual assault trial of comedian Bill Cosby.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Leaning heavily on his military credentials, Pine Township resident Paul Mango last night announced his intention to run for Pennsylvania governor in 2018. The West Point graduate and former principal at the business management consulting firm McKinsey & Company became the second Republican to declare his candidacy, joining State Senator Scott Wagner of York County in the race.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Tuesday’s voter turn out of 17.2 percent in Allegheny County was slightly down from four years ago and about 6 percentage points down from eight years ago. 

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 fm WESA

In 2007, Mike Formica had just sold his tech start up and was looking for something to do when he was approached by a group of scientists from The University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. 

They wanted a device that would detect joint swelling in the hands of people who suffer arthritis. Formica jumped on board and started to look for a solution, but wasn’t happy with what he found.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

The three men who have held the seat of Allegheny County Executive are throwing their support behind a proposal to allow municipalities in the county to disincorporate and turn over operations to county officials.

A study out of the Institute of Politics at the University of Pittsburgh outlines a path for municipalities in Allegheny County to disincorporate that begins with local elected officials approving a referendum on disincorporation. If the voters approve, it would then be sent to the county council to accept the plan. 

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

When voters in Allegheny County go to the poles May 16, they will see the names of at least 14 candidates hoping to become a judge.

While it is often difficult for parties to find candidates to run for other offices, it is virtually never a problem to fill the slate with lawyers looking to earn a seat on the bench.

So why is that?

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

report released by the Pennsylvania Department of Health Wednesday shows the backlog of untested rape kits is shrinking, but is still far from gone.

The report found there are 3,217 rape kits in the state waiting to be processed. Of those, 1,214 were more than a year old, which the state defines as backlogged.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Dr. Trina Peduzzi has been working with babies as a community pediatrician for the last 16 years and has taken care of hundreds of children with lead poisoning.

“Most parents who get the phone call from me are completely unaware that their child was exposed to lead,” she said. “If we do not look for this problem we will not find it.”

The Allegheny County Board of Health on Wednesday approved a regulation requiring children in Allegheny County to be tested for lead in their blood.

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