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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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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Government & Politics
3:17 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Jim Ferlo 'Confident' No Wrongdoing at Urban Redevelopment Authority

State Sen. Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny) doesn’t believe federal investigators will find anything substantial from documents they’ve subpoenaed last week from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

Ferlo currently sits on the board of the URA.

The subpoena comes after board chairman Yarone Zober, and the mayor’s chief of staff, testified Tuesday before a federal grand jury believed to be investigating whether Mayor Luke Ravenstahl is involved in funding irregularities.

Ferlo said he’s not sure what investigators are looking to find.

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Port Authority
3:00 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

County Executive Fitzgerald Names Four PAT Board Members

The Port Authority of Allegheny County is a little bit closer to once again having a full board. Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald has submitted his for appointees to round out the newly reformed 11-member board.

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History
3:30 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Tuskegee Airmen Get 'Overdue' Memorial Near Pittsburgh

An artist's rendering of the memorial to be unveiled Sunday at the Sewickley Cemetery.
Credit Tuskegee Airmen Memorial of Greater Pittsburgh Region, Inc.

They were officially known as the 332nd Fighter group and the 477th Bombardment group, but the world remembers them as the Tuskegee Airmen.

The memory of the first black military pilots is being honored throughout the region this week. On Thursday a new semi-permanent display honoring the corps was unveiled at Pittsburgh International Airport by county executive Rich Fitzgerald.

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Health
3:30 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Hill District Gets Healthy with Wheatley Event

State Rep. Jake Wheatley is hoping a series of events he is sponsoring this weekend will improve the health of his district in every sense of the word.

“When you hear the word ‘health’ you always go instantly to physical health, but we’re also talking about your financial health, your mental health, and your emotional health, your communal health,” Wheatley said. “So that really was the impetus for what we wanted to do. And we wanted to get people out moving, we wanted to get people out talking, we wanted to get people out to share, so we kind of combined our activities.”

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Recreation
12:46 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

What to Do in the Dwindling Days of Summer

Fall may be just around the corner, but there's still plenty of summer fun to be had in Pittsburgh.
Credit Flickr user the justified sinner

School has started, Labor Day has come and gone, and for many, that means summer is over. 

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Community
1:07 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

Local Universities to Mark Sept. 11th Anniversary

A pair of local universities will mark the 12th anniversary of the attacks of September 11th in very public but very different ways. 

Chatham University will gather Wednesday afternoon on the quad for a moment of silence, a short speech from the Dean of Student Affairs office, remarks from a representative of the Wounded Warrior Project and a performance of the National Anthem by the Chatham University Choir. 

The goal of the event is not only to remember the lives lost on Sept. 11, 2011, but also to salute the growing number of students on campus who are also veterans. 

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Government & Politics
3:30 am
Tue September 3, 2013

Would You Pay Higher Income Taxes to Avoid Property Taxes?

For decades, small pockets of lawmakers, property owners and education activists have been pushing to end the use of property taxes to fund education in Pennsylvania, and now a local lawmakers is hoping to forward the debate with fresh legislation.

On average, school districts in the United States pulled 44 percent of their funding in 2011 from local sources, and most often that funding came from property taxes. In that same year, districts in Pennsylvania turned to local sources for 57 percent of their revenue, which is the fourth highest percentage in the country. 

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Community
3:30 am
Fri August 30, 2013

Grownups Get to Play Saturday in Downtown Pittsburgh

A few hundred Pittsburghers are expected to gather downtown this weekend to make some new friends, get a little sweaty and play some of the best new games invented this year. 

It's all part of the Best Games Festival put on by City of Play.

“You don’t have to be a hyper-athlete to show up to what we do,” said City of Play Director Adam Nelson.  “That’s one of the foundations of the organization and the festival.”

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Public Safety
1:56 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

Drug Bust in Wilkinsburg Nets 18 Arrests and 13,500 Bags of Heroin

Eighteen people alleged to have ties to a violent drug gang based in Wilkinsburg have been arrested in what is being called a major bust. The suspected drug dealers were taken into custody as part of a joint effort involving the PA Attorney General's Organized Crime Section and the Allegheny County Police.

The "Operation Wilkinsburg Crew" was launched, according to Attorney General Kathleen Kane, in reaction to a series of homicides and shootings in Wilkinsburg believed to be related to heroin trafficking.

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Economy & Business
4:24 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

State of the Labor Report Shows PA Sliding

Just ahead of Labor Day, the left-leaning Keystone Research Center is calling on the state to spend more to support public sector jobs and on the private sector to pay their low-wage workers more. 

The Harrisburg-based think tank’s State of Working Pennsylvania report shows the state’s strong employment position immediately following the recession has begun to falter.

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University of Pittsburgh
3:31 pm
Tue August 27, 2013

Student Group Convinces Pitt to Join Anti-Sweatshop Program

A student group at the University of Pittsburgh has been successful in its effort to get the school’s administration to sign on to a program aimed at guaranteeing workers rights wherever official school apparel is manufactured.

“As soon as I found out for sure I jumped up and down for like a good two or three minutes,” said Joe Thomas, co-founder of the Pitt chapter of Americans for Informed Democracy.

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Marcellus Shale
2:53 pm
Tue August 27, 2013

47 Wells to be Drilled at Pittsburgh Airport

Consol Energy's drilling plan.
Credit Consol Energy

Consol Energy plans to build six well pads and three impoundment ponds on land surrounding the Pittsburgh International Airport as it works to tap into the Marcellus shale under the facility. 

Miles of water and gas pipelines and access roads are also part of the plan that is currently up for public review.

Allegheny County Council inked a deal with Consol to drill at the airport pending regulatory approval from several agencies, including the Federal Aviation Administration. The deal could be worth as much a $500 million dollars to the county.

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Port Authority
1:57 pm
Fri August 23, 2013

PAT Board Leaves Without Naming New CEO

The nine-member board of the Port Authority of Allegheny County closed a special meeting Friday without choosing a new CEO, meaning the task will be left to a new board that will feature nearly all-new faces. 

Currently the board is fully appointed by the County Executive, but a bill passed in the state legislature this spring changes the make up of the board to include 11 members appointed, in part, by the state. 

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Community
10:52 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

Sala Udin Remembers the March on Washington

Fifty years ago, Sala Udin was a 19-year-old living with his aunt and cousin in New York. He was involved in the civil rights movement but was not as active in the struggle as he would soon become.

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Government & Politics
4:36 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

Sen. Toomey Works for Tax Code Changes, but He's Not Optimistic

U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania) has long been a supporter of changing what he calls the “burdensome” U.S. tax code, and he says although he will continue that fight from his seat on the Senate Finance Committee, he does not want to artificially inflate the hopes of his constituents that change will happen any time soon.

“The fact is it takes strong presidential leadership to get this done, and I don’t think it is a very high priority for the president,” Toomey said.

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Environment & Energy
3:21 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Sen. Casey: More Money for Energy Research Needed

Funding for the National Energy Technology Laboratory is set to be cut by 20 percent in the upcoming federal budget, and that has U.S. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania upset. 

The Democrat has sent a letter to House and Senate leaders calling for the restoration of more than $80 million in the NETL budget. 

Casey said the funding is important to not only the region’s economy, but also the future of the nation's energy supply.

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