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

Children's Museum of Pittsburgh

A national program launched by the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh to support maker space development in schools is taking on a new set of national and local partners.

In 2015, the museum launched a year-long pilot program, Kickstarting Making, that supported 10 local schools in raising funds for maker space efforts. 

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Nearly two-dozen representatives from southwestern Pennsylvania worked together to come up with ideas for how to improve transportation in the area.

The Regional Transportation Alliance of Southwestern Pennsylvania released its findings Wednesday in the report Imagine Transportation 2.0.

The alliance surveyed more than 500 community and governmental groups to build a list of seven broad overarching principles and “50 ideas to explore.”

Blogtrepreneur / Flickr

With the recent indictment of former National Security Agency employee Harold Martin for allegedly stealing 50 terabytes of top-secret NSA reports, the world of cyber security is once again turning its attention to inside threats. 

However, experts at Carnegie Mellon University have been trying to fight insider threats for more than a decade.

Alan Levine / Flickr

State officials want to grow Pennsylvania’s solar energy production by 20 times by 2030.

The goal of the Finding Pennsylvania’s Solar Future project is to grow the state’s current share of less than a half-of-a-percent to 10 percent in the next 13 years – or about 12 gigawatts of electricity.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection launched the 30-month planning project.

Fishhawk / Flickr

The warm weather of the last few weeks has prompted some fruit trees in Pennsylvania to start opening their flowers. But Friday night’s expected low of 20 degrees has some farmers a bit worried.

“The one good thing about most trees is not everything pushes and opens up and blooms at the same time,” Soergel’s Orchards farm manager Adam Voll said. “So you might lose some of the furthest open buds but there’s plenty of other buds … to make a crop.”

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

The bike and pedestrian advocacy group Bike Pittsburgh is trying to gain a better understanding of how the growing number of self-driving cars are interacting with local cyclists and walkers.

“We do see real potential safety benefits from removing humans from the operation of cars,” said Bike Pittsburgh spokeswoman Alex Shewczyk. “However, we don’t appreciate being guinea pigs for this experiment, so we just want to make sure that everything is safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.”

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

In a lab at Carnegie Mellon University, Adam Feinberg is using 3-D printing to create human tissue.

The associate professor of materials science & engineering and biomedical engineering said he often downloads 3-D images to print dollhouse furniture and Pokémon characters out of plastic for his children. He said that led him to ask: why not do that with the images made by an MRI or CT scan?

He said making a computer model from a scan is actually pretty easy.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 fm WESA

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and community activists have recently called attention to what many say is an “affordable housing crisis” in Pittsburgh. As new development comes to neighborhoods like Lawrenceville and East Liberty, many low- and moderate-income homeowners and renters are being priced out of the neighborhoods.

Pittsburgh International Airport / Flickr

U.S. Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey is calling on the White House to increase funding for Customs and Border Patrol agents at Pittsburgh International Airport.

In a letter sent to President Donald Trump this month, the Democrat argued current customs staffing at the airport is insufficient and it will only get worse in the coming months.

The number of passengers arriving in Pittsburgh on international flights grew by 30 percent in 2016 and airport spokesman Bob Kerlik said the trend is expected to continue.

The National Council on Teacher Quality and the EducationCounsel
Nathan Forget / Flickr

The nonprofit that runs the needle exchange program in Allegheny County is leaving it's current location in Oakland. 

Each Sunday, as many as 75 intravenous drug users or their surrogates visit the Prevention Point Pittsburgh needle exchange program at the Oakland office. But the exchange will move to East Liberty in April.

The health department is moving its clinic and wasn't able to guarantee Prevention Point would be able to use those facilities on Sundays. 

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates there will be a shortage of as many as 94,000 physicians in the U.S. by 2025. Most of those physicians are in rural areas and inner cities, and the greatest shortage will be among general practitioners.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

When a company grows and adds satellite offices, it can often be difficult for the main office to stay connected to its remote locations.

Pittsburgh-based company NetBeez connects each site.

“I was imagining, you know, a lot of devices that are buzzing in the network and having all these devices they work like a swarm,” NetBeez co-founder Panickos Neophytou said. “It was a network of bees, so NetBeez came to mind and that is when we adopted the name.”

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is hoping to stabilize and grow affordable housing options in the city through a series of executive orders.

Google Maps

The developer of the North Side's Nova Place announced Tuesday it will outfit the building with high speed internet available to the community for free.  

The five-year $8.8 million investment will turn portions of the former Allegheny Center Mall into a community technology hub.

Developer Faros Properties, which renovated the building, said it would include “innovation pods” where local groups can meet.

Comcast will provide $1.3 million in cash and services including free one-gigabit-per-second wired and wireless connection.

Hans Pennink / AP

According to some school administrators, we’re entering truancy season -- the time when schools start taking action on students who have racked up too many missed days.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

A new partnership between Carnegie Mellon University and one of the world’s largest business service firms could eventually result in smarter computer aided accounting.

Keri Rouse / Allegheny Land Trust

A 450-acre parcel of land in McKeesport that was once an industrial site has been nursed back to health to the point that it has been recognized as a Pennsylvania wild plant sanctuary.

The land, known as Dead Man’s Hollow was acquired by the Allegheny Land Trust in 1994 and crews began in earnest in 2014 to remove non-native invasive plants and build foot trails.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

When a child is abducted, millions of Pennsylvanians are asked to help through the Amber Alert system. State Representative Dom Costa, D-Allegheny, is hoping to use a similar system when a police officer is hurt.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

A small group of students at Propel Montour are eating their way around the world this year. It’s not a new cafeteria option, it’s a lesson in inclusion.

The idea for the Taste the World program, run by school integration specialist Robyn Doyle, started simply enough.

“It stemmed from students just sharing interests in what I was bringing for lunch,” Doyle said.

The group meets once a week during lunch hour. Each student had to submit a short essay as to why he or she should be chosen to be part of the group.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Alcosan will dole out $9 million in grants to support 32 projects intended to keep storm water out of the stressed sanitation system.

The projects in 18 municipalities, including parts of Pittsburgh, are expected to prevent 70 million gallons of rainwater from entering the sewage system. That is less than 1 percent of the 9 billion gallons of water that overflows into the region’s rivers every year.

Ben Margot / AP

Nearly two-thirds of those who spoke at an Allegheny County Council public hearing Monday night came out against expanding the ban on smoking in public places to include e-cigarettes.  

The expansion was approved by the Allegheny County Board of Health, but still must be approved by the county council and signed by Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald has said he is in favor of the expansion.

Before the 23 speakers were allowed to give their testimony, council members heard from a panel of eight experts on the subject of vaping.

Matt Slocum (L), Mel Evans (R) / AP

Two of Pennsylvania’s top elected office holders used their first few days in office to address ethics-related issues by asking employees to sign pledges.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro distributed his code of conduct to every employee and he said they all voluntarily signed the document.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The precautionary boil order in effect for about half of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority customers will most likely remain in place through the end of the week.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

*UPDATED: Feb. 1, 2017 at 12:20 p.m. 

Approximately 100,000 Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority customers are under a flush and boil order.

The authority said the order for the central and eastern neighborhoods is “precautionary.”  

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

In 24 hours, an all-female team of hackers called “Codebusters” created an app allowing people to manage their family finances and health needs all in one place.

They were the winning team at PNC’s second annual employee hack-a-thon.

“Really, when we walked into the door it was kind of a sprint and everything came together a couple of hours towards the end of yesterday and here we are today,” said Codebuster team member Becca Smith. “And now I know some women who want to sleep.”

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Roughly ten months after receiving recommendations from the Government Review Commission, Allegheny County council members have been slow to make changes.

The review commission, made of up of nine people, meets every 10 years as stipulated by the Allegheny County Home Rule Charter, for a top-to-bottom review of government operations. It met in 2015 and had a year to review county operations.  

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council on Wednesday will debate a heavily amended version of Theresa Kail-Smith’s Bike Lane Advisory Board legislation.

Last week, Kail-Smith asked that her legislation to be held for a week to allow council members to review the changes.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Seven months after the board of the state-appointed authority that oversees Pittsburgh’s budget fired its executive director amid concerns of financial mismanagement, the board still does not know exactly where its money was going in 2015 and 2016.

PA Auditor General

A sixth-grader from Lycoming County has collected 750 signatures on a petition calling for all of the unprocessed rape kits in the state to be tested and the state’s auditor general wants to stand behind her effort.

A 2015 Pennsylvania law required all new rape kits collected by police to be tested within six months. But many of the older DNA specimens are still sitting on shelves. In fact, End The Backlog estimates 3,000 rape kits are sitting untested in Pennsylvania. Some of them have been on shelves for more than a decade.

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