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

Some called him a hero of high moral values. Others dubbed him a traitor. Either way, the infamous Simon Girty will soon be remembered with an historical marker in Greenfield.

The installation is the culmination of nearly 30 years of research on the part of his great-great-great-great-great nephew, 83-year-old Ken Girty, who as a child believed his ancestor to be a good-for-nothing "baby-killer."

He's since changed his mind.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

A 72-year-old Pittsburgh woman has been arrested for her role in an international lottery scam.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said Audrey Huff was responsible for collecting at least $295,000 from other seniors across the country and sending it to Jamaica through at least 300 wire transfers.

Huff was arraigned Wednesday on several charges including theft by deception and criminal conspiracy.

Shapiro said it is unclear how, or if, Huff was benefiting by serving as a mule, but that she knew she was breaking the law.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Seven years ago, the Deepwater Horizon oil well blew out, spilling an estimated 210 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Investigators found numerous mechanical and human errors, which led to the explosion at the concrete base of the rig. One of the possible failures included the foamed cement used to line the bore hole.

County Health Rankings & Roadmaps / University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute

Rates of obesity, sexually transmitted diseases, breast cancer screenings and childhood poverty are all on the rise as Allegheny County fell in state rankings released by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Japan's embattled Toshiba Corp. said Wednesday that its U.S. nuclear unit Westinghouse Electric Co. has filed for bankruptcy protection, marking a key step in its struggles to stop the flow of massive red ink.

Toshiba said in a statement that it filed the Chapter 11 petition in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of New York. The move had been largely expected.

Scott Lewis / Flickr

Sixteen construction trade unions in western Pennsylvania are looking for a few thousand new members.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Figuring out where to find something in a large warehouse or navigating a sprawling campus, like a hospital, isn’t always easy.

“You know, how do you get from the main door (of a hospital) to a certain department? You’re asking 20 people along the way and then you get frustrated,” said ARIN Technologies CEO Vivek Kulkarni. “But if there were a way to navigate, like you use Google Maps, that would make life so much easier.”

Robert Strovers / Flickr

For the next two months, the Allegheny County Sanitation Authority will send drilling rigs to 13 locations around the county to take samples as deep as 300 feet. 

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

If you have ever wondered how the Carnegie Museum of Art keeps it’s collection looking so good, the answer is Michael Belman.

Belman is the Objects Conservator for the museum. He evaluates proposed new purchases and checks items coming and going from the collection on loan.

But the biggest part of what he does is repair, restore and preserves three-dimensional fine art. Just keeping objects in the gallery dusted is an important first step. He talked to 90.5 WESA's Mark Nootbaar about his process. 

Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

At the age of 13, Alex Hoffman was already using alcohol and marijuana. By 14, he was on juvenile probation.

“I wouldn’t stop smoking weed, I wouldn’t stop drinking, so I kept failing drug tests and that lead to my first time going involuntarily into juvenile rehab,” Hoffman said.

It was not his last involuntary commitment. He bounced in and out of programs and jail for years before getting clean three years ago, at the age of 21. He remembered being dropped off at a juvenile facility by his parents on his 16th birthday.

Matt Rourke / AP

On the heels of a survey finding Pennsylvanians support efforts to reform the state justice system, one lawmaker said he plans to introduce what he called “clean slate” legislation.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

A Bike Pittsburgh survey from earlier this month found that about half of local cyclists approve of self-driving cars on city streets.

The advocacy group launched the survey in an effort to find out how cyclists and pedestrians felt about the driverless technology and about 800 people weighed in.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Nearly every piece of exposed metal in a consumer product has been electroplated in some way. It's the process of coating a metal with another metal to prevent corrosion. The most common coatings include chrome and cadmium, both of which are heavy metals that can be harmful to the environment.

Nathanial Burton-Bradford / Flickr

The Allegheny Health Network is creating a new Cerebrovascular Center with the goal of making it easier for stroke victims to get access to treatment quickly.

Studies show that reducing the time between a stroke and treatment is one of the most important factors to a successful recovery.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Alex Merchant and Madeline Lagattuta walked through their recently purchased home in Polish Hill. Chalk marks covered the floors, indicating where new walls will be erected and bathrooms created. 

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Each summer, managers of public beaches like those at Presque Isle State Park in Erie test their water to make sure it’s safe for swimming. 

Last year, the park issued more than two dozen advisories and closed beaches three times due to elevated levels of E. coli bacteria.

E.coli is a marker for dangerous water because it’s an indicator of what else could be there, such as viruses.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

A new survey published by AAA finds Americans are not yet ready to fully trust self-driving cars.

The study reports that 54 percent of drivers surveyed felt less safe sharing the road with autonomous vehicles and 78 percent would be afraid to ride in an autonomous car.

However, drivers are interested in some of the innovations used by autonomous cars -- more than half said they'd like to have autonomous technology in their next car. 

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.”

Timothy Vollmer / 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.”

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