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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Lottery
3:20 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Lottery Deal Fees Under Review by Auditor General

The state's top fiscal watchdog says his office will scrutinize state payments made to consultants working on a plan to lease the Pennsylvania Lottery to a private firm.

"The money that was paid to these firms, what did it actually go to?" said Democratic state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale Tuesday about the planned review. He said more than $3.4 million has been paid to firms associated with the effort to lease the lottery. The money has come from the state's Lottery Fund, which supports programs benefiting seniors.

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Early Childhood
6:29 am
Mon October 28, 2013

$5.5 Million Ready to Help Educate Childcare Workers

The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare is hoping a new tuition assistance program will help improve childcare centers throughout the commonwealth.  The Rising STARS Tuition Assistance Program will give current childcare center workers as much as $4,500 a year to pursue a related degree.

“We want to help them achieve those college credits… so that they can use that knowledge so that they can provide higher quality early learning experiences for the young children in childcare centers,” said DPW spokesperson Carey Miller.

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Transportation
4:42 am
Sun October 27, 2013

PennDOT to Close Link Between North and South Hills

PennDOT will detour north bound drivers off the Liberty Bridge, through Duquesne's campus, and onto the Veterans Bridge from 9-5 Oct 28-Nov 1.
Credit Google.com

Motorists heading from the Liberty Bridge to the North Hills this week will find themselves taking a short detour. 

PennDOT will close the ramp connecting the Liberty Bridge to northbound I-579 (Crosstown Boulevard) starting at 9:00am Monday Oct. 28 to work on the retaining wall leading up to Duquesne University.  The ramp will reopen at 5:00pm and then will be closed each day from 9:00am to 5:00pm through Friday.

Crews will apply a protective acrylic coating to wall.

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sewage
12:02 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Sewage Rates to Jump 17%

Water bills in Allegheny County are on the rise again. The Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN) released a four-year rate structure Thursday that begins with a 17 percent rate increase next year and then keeps growing. In the past the rates have always been released on a year-to-year basis.

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East End
2:06 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

East End Charity Set to Open $15.6 Million Facility

For 43 years the East End Cooperative Ministry has been providing services to less fortunate members of the community.  Currently, clients are shuttled among as many as 14 locations to get all the services they need, but as of November 4th everything will be under one roof.

That roof is over what was once a gas station and a pair of parking lots on Penn Circle in East Liberty, and it will be covering a platinum level LEED certified building.

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Government & Politics
3:54 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Pittsburgh Foundation to Offer Hiring Help for New Mayor

The Pittsburgh Foundation is hoping a website it is launching will help the next mayor choose fresh faces for key positions.

The site, Talent-City.org, will begin posting job openings after the November election for the top position in each city department and their direct reports.

“The website is part of a broader effort to help ensure that the city institutes a new process of hiring with an emphasis on qualifications,” said Grant Oliphant, Pittsburgh Foundation president and CEO.

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Transportation
11:36 am
Tue October 22, 2013

Former PA Governor Calls for Transportation Vote

While Pennsylvania’s legislative leaders argue over thresholds for prevailing wage projects and gasoline tax rates, one of the state’s most popular former governor’s is calling on lawmakers to act quickly. 

“Transportation infrastructure is key to not only the quality of life but your ability to be competitive,” said former Gov. Tom Ridge. “People will see that once Pennsylvania invested today in its future, they’ll get immediate results.”

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Government & Politics
3:18 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Criminal Expungement Law Passes PA Senate

A measure that would help some convicted criminals clear their record has been passed by the Pennsylvania Senate and is on its way to the House.

Senate Bill 391 would allow individuals who were convicted of a non-violent misdemeanor of the third or second degree and have not been arrested or prosecuted for seven to ten years following the completion of their sentence to have their record expunged. 

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Transportation
12:25 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

CSX To Build $50 Million Facility in McKees Rocks

CSX Corp. plans to build a $50 million truck-to-train freight transfer station in one of Pittsburgh's poorest suburbs.

Officials in McKees Rocks hope the mile-long facility, which stretches into neighboring Stowe Township along the Ohio River, will jumpstart plans for a business park next to it. McKees Rocks Mayor Jack Muhr says, "This is the kind of development project that can pave the way for more growth."

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Rubber Duck
3:14 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Rubber Duck Leaves Mark

Souvenir ducks have been a hot commodity among people visiting the giant rubber duck anchored off Point State Park, and many of them (the ducks and their owners) have been taking in other area attractions.
Credit Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

On a typical weekday in October about 70 visitors will wander in and out of the Fort Pitt Block House in Point State Park, since Florentijn Hofman’s giant rubber duck has been floating in the Allegheny River that number has grown by nearly 600 percent.

“It’s just been crazy,” said Block House curator Emily Weaver who has seen weekend visitation shoot through the roof.  “It’s been a lot like having the Three Rivers Regatta here every week.  It’s just been crazy.”

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Government & Politics
1:02 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

PA Lowers Debt Limit, Increases Capital Spending Controls

With a unanimous vote, lawmakers in Harrisburg have taken the unusual step of lowering the state’s ability to borrow money.  The House and Senate approved a bill this week that reduces Pennsylvania’s debt ceiling from $4.05 billion to $3.45 billion. 

“Under Governor Rendell the debt limit was increased five times and we felt we needed to reduce our debt service payments and reduce our overall debt,” said House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny). 

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Pittsburgh International Airport
3:11 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

Pitt Airport Lowers Fees to be "Competitive"

The Allegheny County Airport Authority Board has approved a budget that lowers rates and assumes that traffic will hold steady at Pittsburgh International Airport.

The $95.8 million operating budget will drop per passenger fees paid by airlines from the current $14.11 to $13.92. Authority spokesperson JoAnn Jenny said the decrease is a direct result of payments from CONSOL Energy, which has leased the rights to drill into the Marcellus shale under the airport.

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Government Shutdown
1:48 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

Sen. Casey: Debt Deal Good but not Great

While Senate leaders were announcing details of a last-minute agreement Wednesday to avert a threatened Treasury default and reopen the government after 16-day partial shutdown, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) was saying the deal is just a starting point.

Casey said he is pleased that the proposal called for the Treasury to have authority to continue borrowing through Feb. 7, and the government would be open through Jan. 15, but he would prefer that the deadline be pushed back through the end of 2014 as had been included in an earlier proposal. 

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Transportation
3:30 am
Sun October 13, 2013

Should Buses be Downtown? The Debate Begins

Opposition is mounting over a proposal to limit the number of buses and bus stops in downtown Pittsburgh.
Credit Flickr user wildcellist

Opposition is starting to pile up for a recently revived proposal to keep buses out of most of the Golden Triangle. 

At the behest of some business owners and a few elected officials, the Port Authority of Allegheny County has been searching for years to find a solution to the congestion caused by buses passing through the heart of downtown.

Most recently, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and City Councilman Bill Peduto proposed that routes be pushed to the edges of downtown, forcing some riders to walk a few extra blocks to get to work. 

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Higher Education
11:04 am
Fri October 11, 2013

Chatham University Lands $15 Million Gift

As officials at Chatham University prepare to open their new Eden Hall Campus with a focus on sustainability, it has received its largest monetary gift ever in the form of a $15 million dollar endowment from the Falk Foundation.

The school and the foundation have long had a partnership, according to Chatham President Esther Barazzone, “starting in 1952 Chatham had a Falk Hall and since then we have been close to the foundation and its trustees.  Sigo Falk, who is the current head of the foundation, has also been chair of the board of Chatham University.”

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Economy & Business
12:23 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

Gas Prices Slide, Expected to Continue Falling into Holidays

Gasoline prices fell this week three cents compared to last week to land at $3.45 a gallon and the price could slip as low as $3.10 by Christmas, according to AAA East Central Senior Vice President Bevi Powel. 

Last year at this time the price stood at $3.89.

Powel links the slide in prices to a trio of key factors, saying “Winter blends of gasoline are little bit cheaper to manufacture, demand is always a little bit lower after the summer driving season, and we have not had one hurricane effect the production in recent months.”

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Government & Politics
11:56 am
Thu October 10, 2013

911-Style Hotline For Child Abuse Debated

A few local lawmakers are teaming up with a Democrat from Luzerne County in an effort to make it as easy to report child abuse as it is to report a fire. 

The Child Abuse Hotline Bill has made it out of the State Senate Aging and Youth Committee and is now before the Communications and Technology Committee. Senate Bill 26 would create a three digit, toll-free number similar to 911 that would be reserved for reporting child abuse.

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Health
1:56 pm
Thu October 3, 2013

Bills Forcing Highmark and UPMC to Open Networks Introduced

Confusion continues to swirl around the coming split of Highmark and UPMC, and a pair of western Pennsylvania state representatives is hoping to calm the fears of many in the region.

Reps. Jim Christiana (R-Beaver) and Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny) this week introduced a pair of bills (HB 1621 and HB 1622) that would force all not-for-profit health care insurers and health care providers to open their services to all insurance holders, not just their own.

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Carnegie International 2013
3:30 am
Thu October 3, 2013

A Post-Disaster World Without Soccer Becomes Art at Carnegie International

Ei Arakawa and Henning Bohl explore a post disaster world in their film "Helena and Miwako."
Credit Courtesy of Ei Arakawa © Ei Arakawa and Henning Bohl. Commissioned by Carnegie Museum of Art for the 2013 Carnegie International. Supported by The George Foundation and The Japan Foundation, New York

From the very beginning, the curators of the 2013 Carnegie International wanted the art exhibition to be about play, so they built a playground in front of the museum.

Several artists have picked up on that theme, including Brooklyn-based performance artists Ei Arakawa.

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Arts & Culture
7:41 am
Wed October 2, 2013

Festival of Firsts Moves From the River to the Stage

The Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts has had quite an eventful first few days. It started with a splash, stumbled when an installation might have caused three seizures and hopes to get back on track Wednesday with the opening of a stage show.

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Carnegie International 2013
7:57 am
Tue October 1, 2013

Barlow's Art Extends the Carnegie International to Forbes Avenue

Sections of Phyllida Barlow's creation for the Carnegie International wait to be installed in the work that extends from the museum's front door to the sidewalk along Forbes Avenue.
Credit Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Carnegie International artist Phyllida Barlow makes big art. 

“I want to reach sculpturally into spaces that are beyond my reach. I’m not really interested in making monumental works, but more anti-monumental works,” Barlow said.

“I hope, despite their size, there is an intimacy within the way the sections, or the pieces, are actually made, that are all to do with being all well within my reach as a human being.”

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Carnegie International 2013
3:30 am
Thu September 26, 2013

From Death to Music: Artist Pedro Reyes Makes Instruments from Weapons

A piece from Pedro Reyes' Disarm, which will be part of the 2013 Carnegie International
Credit Courtesy of the artist, Lisson Gallery, London, and Alumnos47 Foundation

When the Carnegie International Exhibition opens Oct. 5, the Hall of Sculptures will be filled with weapons bent on communicating a message of peace, rather than violence.

Mexico City artist Pedro Reyes transforms guns confiscated and decommissioned by the Mexican military to make works of art that are also musical instruments.

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Economy & Business
7:37 am
Mon September 23, 2013

When the Pirates Win, So Do Local Businesses

There are no statistics yet on merchandise sales, but ticket sales for the Pirates this year hit 2.2 million, which is a nearly a 40 percent increase over 2009.
Credit Flickr user jwalter522

Walk around town these days and you’re just about as likely to see someone sporting a Pittsburgh Pirates T-shirt as you are someone in Steelers garb.

Much of the Bucos team gear has been purchased this season as the Pirates won more games than they lost for the first time in 21 years and won back the hearts of fans that can’t remember the last time they had a reason to cheer on the home team in September. 

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Community
4:04 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

Underage Drinking in Oakland Target of $70K in Grants

A total of $70,000 will be flowing into the residential portions of Oakland over the next two years to help combat underage and so-called nuisance drinking.

“We’re going to measure success over two years, and on going, by a reduction in the number of highly disruptive, illegal, under-age, student binge drinking parties,” said Geof Becker, co-chair of the Oakland community code enforcement effort, Oakwatch.

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Public Safety
3:30 am
Mon September 16, 2013

State Police Focus on Child Safety Seats

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, three out of four child safety seats are improperly installed in cars and trucks, and state police in Pennsylvania are hoping to fix as many of them as possible. 

Sunday marked the beginning of National Child Passenger Safety Week, and Pennsylvania State Police are teaming up with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to offer 145 safety seat check up events throughout the state. 

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