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

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.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 FM WESA

A package of bills in Pittsburgh City Council intended to help immigrants and refugees living in the city drew its first opposition during debate Wednesday.

Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith said since Councilman Dan Gilman introduced the suite of six bills last week, her office has gotten calls both for and against the measures.

Michael Henninger / CMU

Supercomputers help people crunch big data in a number of fields, from research to weather forecasting, but not everyone has access to one or the technical savvy to make it work. Though, a new supercomputer could offer more access.

Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center just launched the second phase of its supercomputing system, called “Bridges,” last week. It’s among the largest supercomputers in the U.S., but according to Pittsburgh Supercomputing Senior Director of Research Nick Nystrom, it is probably the most democratic one available.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

It's possible that Bret Grote gets more mail from state prison inmates than anyone else in Pittsburgh.

As the co-founder and legal director of the Abolitionist Law Center, he says he is “dedicated to the abolition of race- and class-based mass incarceration.”

The non-profit law firm provides legal services for people who are incarcerated.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 FM WESA

Earlier this month, the Pittsburgh Planning Commission rejected plans to redevelop the former Penn Plaza site in East Liberty, saying not enough public input was given. Last week, the developer filed an appeal saying there had been ample opportunity for public input.

Before the appeal was filed, Mayor Bill Peduto’s chief of staff Kevin Acklin said the administration stood behind the commission’s decision and will stay involved.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 FM WESA

Nearly three weeks into the new year, the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority has given final approval to Pittsburgh’s 2017 budget.

The ICA approved Pittsburgh’s budget in October with the condition that the city find a way to replace $10 million in gaming revenues that would no longer be flowing into the city’s coffers.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

A small group of women camped out in Station Square Wednesday with an SUV filled with feminine hygiene products and read from the 45-year-old seminal women’s health book Our Bodies, Ourselves.

Andrew Harnik / AP

The Washington Metropolitan Police Department hopes the more than 3,000 police officers from across the country heading to D.C. this week to help secure the inauguration will learn some things while they’re there.

Thirteen Pittsburgh police officers and two supervisors left for D.C. Wednesday, will be sworn in as federal marshals Thursday and then put to work Friday providing security along the inaugural parade route.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

When it comes to prosthetic limbs, there can be hundreds of options. Each make and model can differ in flexibility, reflex and a long list of other variables.

But it’s not always easy for someone to find that perfect fit.  

Dr. Mary Ann Miknevich runs six clinics for Medical Rehabilitation, Inc. in the Pittsburgh area and said though her clinics have a few prosthetics on site to make sure the client gets the right fit, that's not always enough. 

Toby Talbot / AP

The Pennsylvania Health Access Network is urging lawmakers against repealing the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion, saying it would intensify the state’s opioid abuse epidemic.

“The opioid epidemic is devastating families across Pennsylvania,” said Pennsylvania Health Access Network Executive Director Antoinette Kraus. “Congress’s plans to repeal the ACA without a replacement will leave them out in the cold.

Alden Chadwick / Flickr

In response to a sharp increase in the number of new syphilis cases in Allegheny County, the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force is offering free testing for the disease.

According to the Allegheny County Department of Health, the number of new primary and secondary syphilis cases in the county jumped by 90 percent from 2014 to 2015. Health Department Medical Director of the Sexually Transmitted Disease Program Harold Wiesenfeld said the data for 2016 is incomplete but he does not expect to see much change from the year prior. 

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

One year ago, Margaret Pietz was almost the victim of fraud when a man claiming to be a lawyer called her and said her grandson owed $4,000 in car repairs related to a traffic accident. He even put a young man on the phone who addressed her as “grandma.” 

Pietz started to realize something was up when she was asked to send the funds in the form of Target gift cards and to not tell anyone else in the family.

“He thought he was calling a gullible grandma,” Pietz said. “The more I thought about it, the more I knew it was a scam.”

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 FM WESA

This month, Pittsburgh-based Sharp Edge Labs partnered with a Japanese pharmaceutical firm to expand research that could cure a small percentage of people suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma CO., Ltd. is pairing with Sharp Edge in its research looking at protein trafficking, which is the movement of proteins within a cell to the receptor for which they were created.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Unrest over the lack of development on the 28-acre site that once included the Civic Arena has found its way to Pittsburgh City Council.

Council members will vote this week on a bill requesting the involvement of the city solicitor. The bill was introduced by Councilman Daniel Lavelle who represents the neighborhoods closest to the site.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

 

Pittsburgh leaders hope the city continues to grow as a testing ground for Uber’s self-driving cars and other companies, aiming for the federally-recognized status of "automated vehicle proving ground." 

The U.S Department of Transportation put out a call for states to apply for the designation in November. 

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 FM WESA

When Pittsburgh’s public safety officials asked for volunteers to help staff the Presidential Inaugural Parade, more than 50 police officers raised their hands, according to acting Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 FM WESA

It's annoying when your computer or phone freezes while you are checking Facebook. The exact same glitch happening to military weapon systems software, or the code behind a self-driving car, goes from annoying to incredibly dangerous.

That's where Lawrenceville-based Edge Case Research comes in, by providing automated robustness testing.

Liz Reid / 90.5 FM WESA

This is the third in a three-part web series looking ahead to 2017 with members of Pittsburgh City Council. Find part one here and part two here.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Six-year-old Anaiah Newman and her mother Connie make time to hand out toiletries to children at the Center for Hope in Ambridge. But Anaiah said she felt it was unfair that she had fun bath time supplies at home, while those children got boring grown-up stuff.

“She talked about this for days. So, I said, ‘let’s go to the store,’ and we went to the dollar store and got some stuff,” said Connie. “Made some bags and donated them. She just got addicted to doing them.”

Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

The same sectors that caused the economy to lag in southwestern Pennsylvania in 2016 could be the sectors that keep the region on pace with the national economy in 2017.

PNC Financial Services Group Chief Economist Stuart Hoffman said though the region saw growth in technology, health care and financial services jobs, other industries saw losses and the region trailed behind national trends.   

“We lost jobs, obviously, in the energy sector,” he said. Additionally, local unemployment rates rose from 5 to 6 percent in 2016, he said.

Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

Despite numerous layoffs and realignments in the Pennsylvania gas industry in 2016, the year is ending with more drill rigs operating in the state than at the same time last year.

The number of active gas drill rigs in Pennsylvania went up from 26 in December of 2015 to 31 in 2016. The increase comes at a time when the number of active rigs nationwide is down more than 10 percent – down to 637 in 2016, versus 709 in 2015.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 FM WESA

When Pennsylvania Attorney General Elect Josh Shapiro takes the oath of office Jan. 17 he will be moving into an office that has been racked by controversy.  The last elected Attorney General, Kathleen Kane, was sentenced in October to 10 to 23 months in prison on charges of perjury and abuse of her office.

Shapiro said he believes he as a track record of acting ethically and will instill that in his staff.

Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo

Air quality in western Pennsylvania improved in 2016, according to three regional monitors tracked by the Allegheny County Health Department.

“It was a good year in ozone,” said Jayme Graham, the department's air quality manager.

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