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.

 

Ways To Connect

As the region begins to experience low temperatures not seen for nearly two decades, city and county officials are preparing for the worst.

Allegheny County has joined up with city officials to staff the Emergency Operations Center.

The Associated Press reports temperatures will continue to fall throughout the day and will not stop until hitting an expected low of nine below zero. Wind gusts of up to 30 miles an hour will result in wind chills of 31 below zero.

Early detection of breast cancer is one of the most important factors when calculating survival rates, but a Magee Hospital surgeon thinks he has found a way to help women who’s cancer is not detected until it has already spread to their bones.

Patients who first present with stage four breast cancer with bone metastasis have a short life expectancy, but a study of 278 women in Turkey suggests that by sending the patient directly to the operating room might be able to help hundreds of American women each year survive.

The first order of business after City Council swears in its newly elected members Jan. 6 is to choose a new president who will run the council for the next two years. The semi-annual election is always fraught with back room deals and unlikely alliances.

“That vote won’t be decided until five minutes before that meeting,” said Jim Motznik, former Pittsburgh City Councilman (2001-2010) and current District Municipal Court Justice.

Social service agencies are always struggling to find the best way to reach those who need help and the same holds true for agencies that care for animals.

Animal Friends is hoping to reach thousands of dogs and cats in some of Pittsburgh’s poorest neighborhoods using a door-to-door approach funded through a $50,000 grant from the PetSmart Foundation.

Starting in 2014, Animal Friends will send crews into a few North Side neighborhoods to offer free spay and neutering, vaccinations and flea treatments.

When Pittsburgh-based PNC Financial Services’ top economist looks forward to 2014, he is doing it with cautious optimism.

“We think we can sustain (good economic growth) for at least one more year and maybe for several beyond that,” said PNC Chief Economist Stuart Hoffman.

Hoffman thinks the economy will see GDP growth inching up and unemployment inching down. By the end of 2014 Hoffman is predicting GDP growth of 2.5 percent and an unemployment rate of about 6.5 percent. 

On the local employment front, new jobs in construction will lead the way.

The 2013 economy might have stumbled a bit coming out of the gate, but at least one local economist says it recovered well.

“As the year went on it gathered some momentum,” said PNC Chief Economist Stuart Hoffman.

The year began with “sequestration” which reduced government spending nearly across the board and made several tax law changes including a hike in the payroll tax from 4.2 percent to 6.2 percent, a phase out a some key tax exemptions, an increase to the so-called death tax, and an increase in the top marginal tax rate from 35 percent to 39.6 percent. 

While many holiday gift givers will be heading out to the stores Monday and Tuesday for a few last-minute gifts, Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord is offering another solution: give to a loved one’s college fund.

Following fatal traffic accidents, the duty of informing loved ones often falls to a state police officer.

“There is probably few more tragic events in the life of a Pennsylvania state trooper,” said Frank Noonan, PA State Policy Commissioner. “And it’s even more tragic when we find that the accident was caused by a drunk driver because all of those are preventable.”

Nick Frost / 90.5 WESA

Apple has chosen a Pittsburgh-born app as its free app of the year.

Duolingo teaches people how to speak a new language, and it's been downloaded more than 10 million times since being released a year ago. 

Duolingo CEO Louis Von Ahn said more than a billion people are trying to learn a new language. He believes two-thirds of them are from the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder, and the reason they are learning a new language is because they are trying to get ahead in life.

Tim Murphy / murphy.house.gov

The shootings and Sandyhook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. focused the nation’s attention on mental health care but now that the tragedy is a year behind us, debate on the subject has waned.

However, U.S. Congressman Tim Murphy (PA-18) is hoping to throw it back into the spotlight with a bill he is calling the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act.

When Andrew Carnegie decided Pittsburgh needed an art museum he did not have any artwork to put in it, so he devised a plan to build a collection using a regularly occurring art exhibition.

“The genesis for the (Carnegie) International, when it was built in 1896 by Andrew Carnegie, was to bring new art to Pittsburgh and to find ‘the old masters of tomorrow’ and collect them for the museum,” said 2013 Carnegie International Co-Curator Tina Kukielski.

A group of Pennsylvania state lawmakers is gathering momentum on a package of bills that deal with issues as diverse as “revenge porn” and pay equity.

Sen. Judy Schwank (D-Berks County) said the overarching theme is that all seven bills deal with strengthening the lives of women in Pennsylvania. 

“When women are healthy and protected by Pennsylvania’s laws, Pennsylvania families will be stronger and more stable,” said Schwank, who co-chairs the Legislature’s Women’s Health Caucus. “This package is a major step in that direction.”

National Aviary

As the snow falls on the city, a few of those flakes are finding the bald heads of a pair of birds at the National Aviary that many hope will someday find love on the North Shore. 

The Aviary recently obtained a pair of Andean condors with the hopes of getting the pair to breed. But with the male checking in at 43 years of age and the female 36 years old, these are no spring chicks.

Small groups of parents and education activists gathered in Pittsburgh and across the country Monday to mark a “National Day of Action to Reclaim the Promise of Public Education.”

“The promise of public education is how we help and actually do our collective responsibility to ensure every single child can dream his or her dreams and achieve them,” said Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers president.

Some of the leading minds in sustainable business models will gather in Pittsburgh Tuesday for a rapid-fire event exploring what has become known as the triple bottom line.

“This is the essence of sustainability,” said Court Gould, Sustainable Pittsburgh executive director. 

The group is putting on the conference, Sustainability EXPOsed.

When auditors from the Pittsburgh City Controller’s office went to Public Works storage yards this summer, they found some equipment was missing, but they also found equipment that was not on any list.

Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb said he does not think there was any criminal intent. Instead, he thinks it was just a matter of not properly using the right management systems.

At the request of the Peduto transition team, the Pittsburgh City Council opted Tuesday to wait at least another week before voting on an early retirement offer. Debate last week indicated that the vote would have been close and that there were still several unresolved issues.

Every year, the city of Pittsburgh collects about $10 million in taxes that many members of the Pittsburgh Public School Board feel is rightfully the district’s. 

Now, Pittsburgh Mayor-elect Bill Peduto says he might be willing to send the cash back to the district, but only if the city’s nonprofit sector steps up with a few dollars of its own.

“It has never come up for discussion,” Peduto said, “but that has to happen in conjunction with a long-term commitment from the major nonprofits, because we don’t have enough money to just open up our budget and give anybody money.”

If you’re looking to work off some of Thursday’s turkey and pumpkin pie with a nice walk, you might consider adding in a healthy dose of history as well. Historic Harmony is offering a series of hikes along the Connoquenessing Creek Saturday with none other than George Washington leading the way.

The focus of the hike will be to commemorate the 260th anniversary of Major Washington’s mission to Fort Duquesne to ask the French to leave the area. It comes on the exact date that the 21-year-old George Washington stayed on the north shore of the creek at a Delaware Indian Village.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Temperatures remained above freezing much longer into the night Tuesday than expected, bringing more rain than snow to southwestern Pennsylvania.

However, it was enough to prompt the Pittsburgh Public School District to issue a two-hour delay.  Several other schools in the county followed suit.

By the time most alarm clocks were going off the rain had turned back into snow, but road conditions throughout Allegheny County were just wet for the start of the morning commute.

With a winter storm warning in effect until 1 p.m. Wednesday and one of the year's busiest travel days ahead, Pittsburgh International is getting ready to do battle with the ice and snow.

“They start planning for this back in September,” said Pittsburgh Airport Authority spokesman Jeff Martinelli. “When they snow storm started getting reported that it was a possibility they started going over some plans, our operations staff was moving to 12-hour shifts, our snow removal crew is out their doing the best they can and pre-treating runways.”

If you have ever wondered where your call has been sent when you dial up customer support you might be happy to learn that legislation moving through Washington would force the operator to answer just that question.

The U.S. Call Center and Workers Protection Act of 2013 has been dubbed the “Dial one for America” bill.  Among its provisions is a requirement that call center operators handling calls from the U.S. identify their location as part of the call.

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

Visitors to the Allegheny County Courthouse this holiday season will see a few new festive embellishments. 

Along with the colorful globes that normally adorn the county’s official tree, nearly 100 ornaments created by local school districts have been added to the boughs. 

Every district in the county was invited to use recycled scrap material to create an ornament representing the district itself and one for each of the communities within its borders.

A study released Thursday by local researchers finds people living in Allegheny County have a substantially higher risk of getting cancer due to simply breathing the air over the course of their life time than those who live in 20 other counties in the area.

The report from the Heinz Endowments-supported Breath Project based its findings on publicly available data looking at the predicted levels of more than 200 toxic air pollutants.

The U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania says he does not think charges are warranted in relation to the deadly Legionella out break at the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System.

Twenty-two veterans who were treated in 2011 and 2012 at the Pittsburgh VA were sickened by Legionella.  Five of them died.

U.S. Attorney David Hickton called the situation “tragic” but feels no charges should be filed by his office.

When the Highmark Caring Place marks its annual Children’s Grief Awareness Day Thursday, it will be looking back as much as it is looking forward.

The Caring Place is a peer support group for kids dealing with the loss of a loved one, but that grief is just the beginning of what the 700 volunteers and staff at four locations help the children overcome.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

With the posting of more than two dozen job openings on Talent-City.org, the first phase of the process of hiring new top-level Pittsburgh city workers was launched Tuesday.  

Mayor-elect Bill Peduto is calling it a unique effort.

“This is something that is going to be transformative for Pittsburgh and where we are going for the next few years,” said Peduto. “This city is at a great transition, and we don’t even know yet where it is going to take us.”

Pittsburgh Mayor-elect Bill Peduto says he wants to give nonprofits a seat at the main table in his administration. 

He made the comments Monday before about 500 Pittsburgh area nonprofit organizations gathered for the annual Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership meeting. 

When a teacher is convicted of a crime the legal costs can reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and in many cases the school district is stuck with that bill.

“School districts can no longer afford to spend money on unnecessary expenditures, and this is certainly one of those,” said Pennsylvania State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams (D-Philadelphia).

Nearly half of all Americans say they would favor a ban on contact in youth football among kids that have not yet entered middle school. The 47.6 percent number comes from a recent survey released Thursday by Robert Morris University.

That number falls to 40.5 percent when the age is increased to high school. 

Among males who played football in their youth, the percentage slips to 44.3 for a ban prior to middle school and 38.2 for a ban prior to high school.

Pages