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

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.

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.

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