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

stclair.org

St. Clair Hospital in the South Hills is making at least one portion of the health care system a little more transparent. 

The hospital has just rolled out an online tool that allows potential patients to find out what the hospital will charge them for more than 150 procedures.

The Ellis School

In the year 2113, a city in the Katmandu Valley of Nepal will be surrounded by an earthquake mitigation system and crisscrossed by underground pneumatic tubes that will zip solid waste right out of your house. 

At least that is what a group of seventh and eighth graders at The Ellis School in Pittsburgh will be presenting next week at the national Future City competition.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

About 80 percent of the work done at Pittsburgh’s senior center on the South Side is done by volunteers. And lately, much of it has been done by one man: Charlie Mathews.

“To have Charlie here as a person that is just willing to help and is really good with people is very crucial to what we do,” said Sarah Johnston, director of the South Side Market House.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

A soldier in the field with little or no technical training could fix a piece of high-tech weaponry, seniors might use a complex health monitoring device and a newlywed couple can be coached through complicated IKEA instructions, all without the help of another human. 

Researchers at the Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science are using wearable technologies like Google Glass to place an "angel" on a user's shoulder to do those types of tasks.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 FM WESA

There are about 150,000 men and women serving in the U.S. military overseas, according to the Defense Manpower Data Center. 

Some of them regularly receive care packages from people they have never met, through programs like Soldiers’ Angels and Chaplains Wings.

Mary Jo Magoc has been sending care packages and cards through those programs since 2009.  She began with individual soldiers through Soldiers’ Angels, where she “adopted” four members of the military deployed overseas. She keeps in touch with three of them, even though they have returned home. Among them is Chris Samuel. 

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Every other Monday night, the basement of the Jefferson Avenue Methodist Church in Washington, Pa. is turned into a soup kitchen and a doctor's office. It’s called the “WeCare Street Outreach,” and it's run by Dr. Monica Speicher.

University of Essex / Flickr

About three years ago, Laura Offutt was between medical consulting projects and looking for something new to try. Around the same time, she noticed that her teenage children and their friends were not happy with the way health information was being presented in school. 

Additionally, Offutt said the teens seemed to have picked up bad information while attempting to fill in the gaps in knowledge from their school presentations. That’s how she started a teen health blog, now a website, called Real Talk with Dr. Offutt.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

It’s not much bigger than a laptop and a set of ski goggles, but workers at Neuro Kinetics, located in O’Hara Township’s RIDC Park, said they’ve created technology that will help diagnose concussions.

It's called the I-Portal, and it's awaiting FDA approval. 

“This is not quite what Star Trek envisioned, because that is a little bit more smaller, easier, portable, but on the right sort of path,” said Howison Schroeder, president and CEO of Neuro Kinetics.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

When 20-year-old Sage Capozzi died from a heroin overdose in 2012 his father, Carmen Capozzi, said he lay on the floor for two days until he heard his son’s voice say, “Dad get up. They’re not bad kids. You have to help.”

A few days later, one of Sage’s friends came to Capozzi’s house to show Carmen a Facebook page created as a memorial to Sage. That page led to the creation of the Sage’s Army page.

“There were 1,800 people signed up in 24 hours, asking me for help or telling me their situation,” said Capozzi. “My wife said to me, ‘What are you going to do?’ I said, ‘I don’t know. I’m just going to talk.’ And that’s what we did, we just talked.”

Daniel X. O'Neil / Flickr

In the 1980s, city officials took steps to set aside strips of undeveloped hillsides as greenways that could never be developed. 

Over the years, some of those lands have become the sites of illegal dumping, hunting and dirt bike racetracks. Now, the Department of City Planning is hoping to get more value from those parcels.

The department is applying for a $50,000 state grant to hire a consultant to look specifically at how the city can better use its 12 designated greenways, which cover about 600 acres. 

Ray Bodden / Flickr

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said Tuesday he hopes newly released standards will help lower ethane emissions in the state.

The greenhouse gas can leak or be released into the atmosphere during natural gas production, transportation and processing. 

pittsburghpa.gov

For the next month, the city of Pittsburgh will highlight a different resident each day in an effort to show off the region’s diversity.

“We’re very much lacking in that area,” said Betty Cruz, the city's deputy chief of special initiatives. “But there are people from diverse backgrounds here and they need to be welcomed and they need to have their story told.”

Highways England / flickr

They come with every new app or piece of software -- they are required to be there by law -- but who actually reads those privacy policy statements that pop up when you are trying to add something to your computer or smart phone?

“Privacy policies that we have at the moment, which are these long legal documents, are important and they play an important roll,” said Florian Schaub, post-doctoral researcher at the Carnegie Mellon University Institute for Software Research. “However, these privacy policies are typically not useful to users and are not meaningful to them.”

Keith Srakocic / AP

During his final state of the union address, Pres. Barack Obama once again called for support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. But Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, who usually lines up politically with the president, said it is a bad idea.

Dickelbers / Wikipedia

 

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is celebrating a ruling by the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, which overturned an arbitrator’s decision to allow Pittsburgh police officers to live outside the city.

http://www.johnmorganelli.com

With a crowded field of candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for Pennsylvania Attorney General, John Morganelli is hoping his experience as a Northampton County District Attorney will set him apart from the others.

“The office is in crisis,” Morganelli said. “I believe strongly that whoever the next attorney general is, that that person necessarily must be an experienced prosecutor.”

With 24 years in office, Morganelli is the longest serving DA in the state. He has also served on several statewide committees including the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

jackforag.com

Jack Stollsteimer is happy to tell you about his middle class roots.

Born the son of an immigrant mother who spent time in a Nazi labor camp and a father who served in the military and eventually drove a bus, Stollsteimer worked his way through college and law school. Now, he's casting his eyes on the state’s top law enforcement job.

fawcettforag.com

In the late 1980s, Pittsburgh-based attorney Dave Fawcett represented a land developer that believed coal company Massy Energy conspired to bankrupt the smaller company. The fight took more than 15 years and included a trip to the U.S Supreme Court before it was finally finished. 

As one of four Democrats seeking candidacy for office, Fawcett said it's that kind of experience that has prepared him for the office of Pennsylvania Attorney General.

Linus Bohman / flickr

The U.S. economy is finishing 2015 on an upswing, according to Pittsburgh-based PNC Chief Economist Stuart Hoffman and he thinks that will continue into 2016.

“Wages had been stalled at around 2- to 2.25-percent [growth]. We saw a little bit of an uptick in the later half of this year, and we think we will see a little faster, bigger gain in 2016,” Hoffman said.  “Maybe where wages rise … closer to 3 percent.”

401(K) 2012 / flickr

After a rough start in 2015, the nation's economy is set to end the year in a fairly strong position, PNC Chief Economist Stuart Hoffman said.

“But it clearly was a mixed picture,” Hoffman said. “If you were in manufacturing, the global economy grew more slowly, the dollar was strong. If you were in energy, it was a bad year for you."

90.5 WESA

All three Pennsylvania row offices will be up for election in 2016.

Usually candidates vying for attorney general, auditor general and treasurer have a hard time getting attention; most voters are focused on the presidential race. 

http://www.raffertyforag.com

The field is crowded in the race for the Democratic nomination for Pennsylvania Attorney General with four declared candidates and at least one more expected to add his name, but on the Republican side, it has become a very lonely race. 

State Sen. John Rafferty is the lone candidate since state Rep. Todd Stephens dropped out earlier this month. Stephens said it was clear from early endorsements that Rafferty would take the primary in April.

Rafferty said he considered a run for the office four years ago but declined. This year he couldn't resist.

YouTube

The Pittsburgh Citizens Police Review Board has opened an inquiry into the behavior of a Pittsburgh Police officer trying to control the crowd outside the Wood Street T Station on Wednesday.

amateur photography by michel / flickr

The Pennsylvania Senate has passed a bill that would require children to ride in cars facing backwards up to the age of 2 and the sponsor of the bill said he thinks it will get quick approval from the House.

“Rear facing is safer because, when there is, God forbid, a crash it distributes the impact of the crash more evenly and there are multiple studies out there that show that rear facing can save lives and reduce injury,” said State Sen. Michael Schlossberg (D- Lehigh) who sponsored HB 1551 which would change the state’s vehicle code.

Save Money / flickr

The Federal Reserve is poised to do something it has not done in more than a decade — raise interest rates.

Despite the occasion, Aaron Leaman, chief investment officer with Pittsburgh-based Signature Financial Planning, is not recommending any rash changes. 

“This is not something that is a make or break thing for any average investor,” said Leaman. “If you are a long-term investor, looking to secure your retirement or fund your child’s education… one decision made by the fed on one day in December is not going to make or break your portfolio in either direction.”

Phil Pavely / Trib Total Media

More than a century ago, the fight between George Westinghouse in Pittsburgh, and Thomas Edison in West Orange New Jersey, over whose power system was better, ended with Westinghouse and alternating current as a clear winner. But research at the University of Pittsburgh has rekindled that fight.

Allie_Caulfield / Flickr

Allegheny County can no longer hold individuals based on solely on their suspected illegal immigration status, according to a settlement reached Wednesday with the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The governing boards of two of the region’s public radio stations, 90.5 WESA and 91.3 WYEP, are merging into a single 501(c) 3.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Pittsburgh City Council will get to take its shot at the 2016 operating and capital budgets as proposed by Mayor Bill Peduto on Monday.

“I think there are some things that council is going to move around,” said council Finance and Law Committee Chair Natalia Rudiak. “Of course it’s a matter of where are we going to add, and… where are we going to take away.”

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

  Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald had no problem winning a second, four-year term in Tuesday’s election.

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