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

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.

Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

Update: 7:39 a.m. Thursday

Pittsburgh police have charged a 16-year-old student with shooting three others outside a high school, allegedly in retaliation for a drug-related robbery inside the school last month.

None of the students wounded minutes after Brashear High School dismissed classes Wednesday has life-threatening injuries. Police say two were grazed by bullets, while one was shot in the arm and foot. Police say a fourth was targeted but not hurt.

A local foundation known for rushing medical aid to developing nations in the wake of natural disasters is asking for help in its effort to offer short- and long-term assistance to the Philippines. 

Brother’s Brother Foundation is working with the Philippine American Medical Society of Western Pennsylvania to move medical supplies to areas impacted by Typhoon Yolanda.   

Brother’s Brother is asking for cash donations to move the supplies.

Pittsburgh Mayor-Elect Bill Peduto is going to lean a little more heavily on the Pittsburgh Foundation and the University of Pittsburgh Institutes of Politics when it comes to filling out non-union city staff positions and appointments to boards, commissions and authorities. 

It was announced Oct. 22 that the Pittsburgh Foundation was funding an effort to run a website to take applications for the top position in each city department and their direct reports. Those applications would then be put through an assessment process with the help of the Institutes of Politics.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Mayor-elect Bill Peduto has rolled out the names of those who will fill key positions in his administration and the list is a mix of well-known political names, high-profile business leaders, and a few new faces.

“It reflects the most diverse mayor’s office in Pittsburgh’s history,” said Peduto of his “executive team,” which is majority minority.  “But more importantly, it’s the highest level of talent that a mayor’s office has been able to recruit.”

Pittsburgh City Council will get two new faces as a result of Tuesday’s election. One is a political outsider, the other is no stranger to Grant Street.

The voters of District 8 overwhelmingly chose Democrat Dan Gilman (89 percent) to represent the district over Republican Mordecai D. Treblow (10 percent). Gilman is the chief of staff for current District 8 Councilman Bill Peduto, who opted not to run so he could focus on his mayoral campaign.  

Gillman said he knows this will not be an easy job. 

Once the vote count is made official by the Allegheny County Elections Division later this month the Pittsburgh Home Rule Charter will have a new amendment. By an 80-20 majority Tuesday, voters approved a ballot question that would amend the charter to require all city employees to live in the city for which they work.

“It’s important that they live in the city and be part of the city and have a commitment to the city which they control,” said Pittsburgh City Councilman Ricky Burgess.

That includes police and firefighters.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

The polls are open across the country for the 2013 general election, and in Allegheny County things are reportedly very quiet. 

The Allegheny County Elections Division says a few polling places were slow to start taking voters due to problems with buildings not being open on time and poll workers calling in sick. All of those locations opened shortly after 7 a.m., and the division said replacement workers were found where needed.

HHS.gov & casey.senate.gov

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will be back on Capitol Hill Wednesday. This time she will be fielding questions from members of the Senate Finance Committee about the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the failure of the launch of the website HealthCare.gov.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) is a member of the committee. He thinks the session will start with a look at why the website used to sign up for new healthcare insurance collapsed on the first day and has never fully recovered. However, he hopes it will not end there.

When voters in Pittsburgh head to the polls Tuesday they will be asked if they want to change the city’s home rule charter to require all city employees to live within the 58 square miles that make up the municipality.

The question was placed on the ballot by City Council in July following brief debate among council members and a long public hearing. 

Councilman Ricky Burgess represents several mostly-African American neighborhoods and pushed for the referendum.

Former longtime Pittsburgh Democratic Congressman William Coyne has died at the age of 77.

Coyne's executive assistant, Jamie Rooney, said Coyne died Sunday at UPMC Mercy hospital following complications from a fall two months ago.

Coyne was a state representative from 1971 to 1973 then spent six years on Pittsburgh City Council before he became a Congressman in 1981. He served in that post until retiring in 2003.

The local media, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and members of congress have all tried to dig into the outbreak of Legionella at the Pittsburgh VA hospital and now the American Legion is getting involved.

The group tours fifteen hospitals each year to gather information for an annual report from its System Worth Saving Task Force, which assesses the facilities on several criteria.  The Task force chose Pittsburgh to be among those reviewed this year.

Pennsylvania’s senior U.S. Senator has authored a bipartisan letter to the White House that he hopes will put money in the hands of needy families who need help heating their homes.

Sen. Bob Casey’s letter calls for the expedited release of heating assistance funds for seniors and low-income families through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP.)  The Democrat said he has recruited 40 members of the Senate as co-signers calling on the Department of Health and Human Services to release the funds. 

PNC

While many Americans quickly moved on from October’s partial government shutdown and near-default, it seems the nation’s high net worth individuals are less ready to forget about it.

One of western Pennsylvania’s iconic businesses is back up and running in a permanent location.  The ribbon was cut today for the new Wendell August forge in Grove City Pennsylvania following a devastating fire in March of 2010.

Governor Tom Corbett was on hand for the event and heaped praise on the company’s tenacity. 

“You have shown great resolve and I want to thank you for that,” Corbett said. “Not only have you recovered from the fire of 2010 but I understand you are expanding.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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