Mark Nootbaar

Senior News Editor

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 where he is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the 90.5 WESA newsroom. Mark has also worked in Illinois and Texas. He lives in the North Hills with his lovely wife and daughter.

 

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A voicemail threat left on a West Liberty Elementary school number has prompted the Pittsburgh Public School District to evacuate West Liberty, South Brook 6-8 and Pioneer.

The voicemail apparently threatens that a sniper would be at the school today. The message was found shortly before school started. Police are investigating the threat.

The Pittsburgh Penguins say they should be able to begin developing the 28 acres that once held the Civic Arena in the next six to nine months thanks to a deal that city leaders believe will positively impact the entire Hill District and Uptown.

Johnny Manziel's time is coming. For now, the most famous backup quarterback in football is merely a student.

Brian Hoyer, the journeyman veteran who beat out the Heisman Trophy winner for the starting job in Cleveland, provided a lesson in resilience on Sunday. Then Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers provided another in how to finish.

Again.

Roethlisberger hit Markus Wheaton twice during a last-gasp drive to set up Shaun Suisham's 41-yard field goal as the Steelers survived 30-27.

Micheal Lynch / 90.5 WESA

The nationwide fight over a higher minimum wage for fast food workers landed eight Pittsburgh-area protesters behind bars Thursday.

More than 100 workers and supporters hit the streets in front of the McDonald’s restaurant in Wilkinsburg demanding wages of $15 an hour and union representation.

Local fast food workers have been holding rallies, pickets and job walk offs for months, but Thursday’s event was supported by similar rallies planned in nearly 150 U.S. cities.

New open burning rules are pending before the Allegheny County Board of Health, and while most residents who have spoken out are in favor of the tighter controls, some feel the rules fall far short of being able to adequately protect public health.

“This is not about the tyranny of government overreach and the revolution has come to Bellevue,” said Bellevue resident and anti-burning activist Carol Wivell. “This is about people going before your elected officials and begging for help.”

The Pennsylvania Superior Court has up held the convictions of former State Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin and her sister Janine Orie but has slightly changed Melvin’s sentence.

Melvin was originally ordered to send letters of apology to every judge in the state, and she was required to write them on pictures of herself in handcuffs. Thursday’s ruling found the decision to use the picture was “emblematic of the intent to humiliate Orie Melvin.”

Thanks to a federal program, all 25,000 students in the Pittsburgh Public School district will be offered free breakfast and lunch for the next four school years.

The district was recently approved to take part in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Community Eligibility Provision contained in the National School Lunch and Breakfast program.

“Students who are healthy and adequately nourished can learn and learn better,” said Curtistine Walker, director of Pittsburgh Public School District Food Services.

The floor in the Pittsburgh International Airport’s Airside Terminal is in the process of being turned upside down by a local artist.

Crews are installing the work of Clayton Merrell on the floor of the terminal’s Center Core, which connects the escalators from the people movers to the four concourses.

“You can imagine if you are laying on your back looking up at the sky… the terminal is going to be an inversion of that where you will be walking on the sky and the horizon will be encircling that,” said artist and CMU professor Clayton Merrell.

The federal grand jury, which heard evidence against then Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, has been dismissed without handing up any indictments against the mayor or anyone in his administration.

David Hickton, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, would not comment on the development. Ravenstahl’s attorney Charles Porter Jr. could not be reached for comment. 

In June, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed rules designed to cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal plants by 30 percent by 2030. 

The proposal has been hotly debated since then, and one of only four public input sessions nationwide begins Thursday morning in Pittsburgh. 

Because the power industry is responsible for more than a third of all carbon emissions in the U.S, it seemed to many to be the best place to start. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said the agency received approximately 300,000 public comments before the hearings began.

A coalition of anti-fracking groups are hoping to ferret out stories of Pennsylvanians who feel they were ignored by the Department of Health when they called to complain about health problems that could be linked to Marcellus Shale gas activities. 

A web-based survey has been created to collect the stories and those who choose to not use the web can call (717) 467-3641 to share their experiences.

Community-minded volunteers will spread throughout the North Shore Thursday with paintbrushes and trash bags as part of the Community Action Project (CAP) that also will include food, music and family activities.

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) partnered with the Urban Impact Foundation and Light of Life Rescue Mission for the event.

'Southpaw' Film Brings The Bronx to Carrick

Jul 22, 2014
Jennifer Szweda Jordan

A little piece of the Bronx has been dropped into Pittsburgh’s South Hills while film crews work on a new Jake Gyllenhall film.

Building facades and storefronts have been modified and re-decorated by director and Pittsburgh native Antoine Fuqua for his boxing-related film Southpaw.

In the last 10 years, an estimated 2.4 million jobs have been shipped off shore by U.S. companies, according to U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), and he says the tax code not only allows it, but encourages it. 

“It’s almost as if the tax code says ‘take your jobs overseas and the code will help you do it,” said Casey.  “Unfortunately I’m not exaggerating.”

For that reason Casey is calling on the Senate Committee on Finance to move the Bring Jobs Home Act (S. 337) to the full Senate for debate and a vote.

Somerset County Commissioners have rejected a request from the Shade-Central City School District that could have forced the county to launch a multi-million dollar property reassessment process.

When computer science students return to Carnegie Mellon University this fall, many will be able to get their hands on a parallel computing system that is roughly 500 times faster than the best laptop computer on campus.

CMU was recently shipped 448 “blades” that were being decommissioned by the Los Alamos National Laboratory. As the federal facility upgrades its supercomputing system it usually sends the stripped down computers or “blades” to research facilities like CMU to allow students to experiment.

Some called it a brawl, others a riot, but however it was categorized, top officials in Indiana County want to make sure the incidents leading up to St. Patrick’s Day this year are not repeated next year.

The Indiana County Chamber of Commerce has gathered stakeholders to form a task force aimed at finding ways to better respond to such incidents and maybe even prevent them in the future. 

Two administrative law judges have agreed with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to force two ride-share companies to stop operating in Pittsburgh.

The judges issued their rulings Tuesday, five days after PUC attorneys argued that Lyft and Uber are violating state rules that govern paid transportation services.

Uber, Lyft and other ride-share companies use smartphone apps to dispatch drivers who use their own personal vehicles.

Pennsylvania environmental regulators are wading through more than 25,000 public comments on a proposed overhaul of the state’s oil and gas regulations.

A blueprint for what Pennsylvania officials hope will be a smooth transition for Highmark Insurance customers currently using UPMC doctors has been agreed to by both non profit organizations but the details have yet to be reached. 

“This as really been a bipartisan approach,” said Highmark CEO David Holmberg who just two weeks ago did not think such a deal was possible.  “This has been about everybody putting their swords down and doing the right things.”

Robert Couse-Baker / Flickr

Point Park University Adjunct Facility have voted to unionize and the administration seems to be ready to let that happen. 

“This is long over due,” said PPU adjunct English and French teacher Rebecca Taksel.  “We adjuncts… have been marginalized for so long.”

Following the 172-79 vote, the University responded with a written statement, which read in part,

“We are pleased that so many adjunct faculty members took the time to make their voices heard on this important issue. We respect the decision made by those eligible to vote and look forward to working with all faculty members to fulfill Point Park’s mission of educating the next generation.”

The university had originally fought the unionization effort run by the United Steel Workers. 

“As soon as we are officially recognized next Wednesday (July 2) we will be sending them (University administrators) a letter asking them for dates for bargaining,” said USW organizer Randa Ruge who thinks they will be able to negotiate better pay for the workers.

Since before taking office, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has been promising that when it came time to hire a new police chief, the public would have ample opportunity to influence the process.  Today, he and Acting Public Safety Director Stephen Bucar laid out plans for six public meetings and a website dedicated to taking additional input. 

Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

When it opened in 1955, Mellon Square was the first garden plaza to be built on top of a parking garage, and the public flocked in to use it.

But despite efforts to renew the space over the decades, it started to fall into disrepair. Three years ago an effort to fully overhaul the one square block park was launched, and the ribbon will be cut once again Thursday morning.

"When we began the restoration here, literally hundreds of rats were running around the park,” said Phil Gruszka, parks manager of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.

After less than two years at the helm, Highmark Inc. CEO Dr. William Winkenwerder has been replaced. 

The state’s largest insurer made the announcement this morning while also announcing that David L. Holmberg will step into the open post.

Holmberg has been with Highmark for the last seven years in several senior business operations roles. Most recently he served as President of Highmark Inc.'s Diversified Businesses. Prior to joining Highmark, Holmberg was the Executive Vice President for operations for Jo-Ann Stores, Inc.

Dem Campaign Websites and Facebook

Candidates in a field of four Democrats are fighting to earn the right to take on Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett in the November General Election. Voters will head to the polls Tuesday to make the selection.

Western Pennsylvania could play a major role in the outcome. None of the candidates have ties to the region but many political insiders think the way Allegheny County falls will dictate who wins the election.

Funding for education, taxing gas extraction from the Marcellus Shale, and growing the economy were among some of the topics that played large during the run up to the election.

Mayor Bill Peduto announced Wednesday that he has chosen FBI Special Agent Stephen A. Bucar as the city's new public safety director.

Bucar is currently assigned to the Washington, D.C. FBI office as a Supervisory Special Agent Section Chief in the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division. Peduto points out that Bucar has experience overseeing the analysis of information associated with domestic and international terrorism at both the federal level and for New York City.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is defending his use of campaign ads that focus on his would-be Democratic opponents, despite the fact that the primary has not yet been held.  

“If you look at the (Democratic) debates that have been going on and you look at the ads that are going on, they are running ads against me,” said Corbett, who calls his ads education pieces.

PennDOT wants to know what you think should be done to the Parkway East to reduce congestion and lower the number of accidents seen each year.

“We’re only going to look at things that would be something we can afford,” said PennDOT Dist. 11 Executive Dan Cessna. 

Ideas such as removing the Squirrel Hill Tunnel or completely reconfigure the highway will not be considered.

“These are affordable changes that could be done at the interchanges, to the networks of the traffic signal systems, other modifications to the lanes,” Cessna said.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is hoping a newly formed working group will be able to turn the tide of heroin overdose deaths in the Commonwealth. 

Corbett is calling for the working group, which will be chaired by Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Gary Tennis, to put a report on his desk by September.

“Yes I know that’s an aggressive time frame and I know that’s across the summer,” Corbett said.  “We don’t have the time to wait.”

The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts

A cache of works by Andy Warhol has been unlocked from its digital jail and is about to seen by a wider audience for the first time. 

A multi-national team of computer scientists, art experts and museum employees “unlocked” the images from floppy disks created by technology that was cutting edge in 1980s but has long since gone defunct. 

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