Megan Harris

Digital Editor / Producer

Megan Harris is a writer, editor, photographer and curator for Pittsburgh's NPR News station; producer for the Criminal Injustice podcast; fill-in local Morning Edition producer; and producer/director for The Confluence, 90.5 WESA's live weekly news roundup.

Previously, Megan covered K-12 education and bicycle and pedestrian planning for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, education at The Messenger-Inquirer in Owensboro, Ky., and crime and breaking news for The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tenn. She worked for a film production crew near Nashville, Tenn., and covered Division I sports at the University of Memphis.

In her off hours, she camps, climbs and Crossfits.

Ways to Connect

Ryan Loew / PublicSource

    

The street where Carol Speaks grew up is only blocks from where her grandson Antwann died.

At 19 years old, he was shot 17 times, according to Carol, in front of witnesses just down the street from Homewood’s Westinghouse Academy.

Ryan Loew / PublicSource

  Monica Hawkins can still laugh at her son Donté’s sense of humor as she replays it nearly four years later on YouTube. And she can smile at the uncanny resemblance her grandson Jaiden has to his dad. The same smile. The same mischievous energy.

But fresh tears come when she recounts the night Donté died at age 20, the helplessness she felt at the scene, and the hole his loss leaves in their family.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

  Police are puzzled why the city's aggravated assaults, shootings and calls for shots fired all rose in 2015 as the number of homicides fell to levels more on par with previous years, Police Chief Cameron McLay said Friday.

Traditionally, shootings are a good measure for a city's homicide rate, McLay said. That didn't hold true for Pittsburgh in 2015.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Some people dream of buying an island, finally paying off their student loans or getting a fancy car. If James Helterbran of Sheraden wins the Powerball, he's taking care of mom.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

 

The last time Pittsburgh had this little snow this far into the season were the winters of 1890 and 2007, according to meteorologists with the National Weather Service.

City of Pittsburgh

Mayor Bill Peduto tapped Forest Hills native Wendell Hissrich to oversee Pittsburgh's public safety bureaus, officials announced Wednesday.

"It's a dream come true," Hissrich said.  "It brings together the police, fire and EMS that I've done for the last 30-some years, and it brings me back home."

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Newspapers The Daily News of McKeesport and The Valley Independent in Monessen will close at the end of the month, Trib Total Media officials announced Wednesday.

President and CEO Jennifer Bertetto said in November the company would likely close both papers if they had not been purchased by the end of the year.

In total, 87 employees will be laid off from both newspapers.

Trib Total Media said in a statement that the closures are part of the company’s overall “strategic review of operations.”

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Living Treasures Wild Animal Park Zookeeper Amanda Salle on everyone's new favorite reindeer, Sven.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Cameron Avrigean on the Pittsburgh Popcorn Company's most memorable holiday shopper.

Tony Webster / Flickr

Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay stressed restraint to fellow officers in an internal memo distributed Wednesday that outlined a bureau review of firearms policies related to moving vehicles.

Illustration by Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

 

 

How To Pilfer A Semi-Abandoned, Iowa Tree Farm

Josh Raulerson,* 90.5 WESA Morning Edition Host

Allegheny County Airport Authority

Traversing taxiways, crossing hangars and sprinting alongside landing aircraft could all be in store for runners and walkers attending the Allegheny County Airport Authority's first Airway 5K on Saturday.

Rebecca Devereaux / 90.5 WESA

The Monongahela Incline is scheduled to reopen Wednesday ahead of its long-stated Light Up Night goal.

The 635-foot incline closed for renovations Sept. 8.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Trib Total Media announced Tuesday that it will lay off more than 150 employees as it consolidates the Valley News Dispatch, (Greensburg) Tribune-Review and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

President and CEO of Trib Total Media Jennifer Bertetto said 153 full- and part-time employees from among the company's 1,100-person staff will be laid off, with another 91 layoffs possible if the newspapers The Valley Independent in Monessen and The Daily News in McKeesport aren’t sold in 60 days.

KOMUnews / Flickr

  City officials aren’t collecting fines for false burglar and fire alarms despite state laws and city codes that require penalties after at least the fourth and second respective false alarm is received from the same building.

The Caring Place

Their grief sways between heartbreak and humor.

“Children want healing,” said Krista Ball, child grief specialist with the Highmark Caring Place. “They share their stories with us. They open up and talk to us about what’s going on, and other times we’re just laughing and playing and having fun together. It could be something as simple as a finger painting, but for them, there’s so much meaning.”

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

  On second pass, 4-year-old Neyra Mesic was ready.

“I want a worm,” Mesic said, pulling her thumb from her mouth. She tugged on teacher Wendy Brenneman’s red canvas blouse. “I can do it now.”

Brenneman set a wriggly, brown garden worm on a damp paper towel next to Mesic. Like all the preschoolers attending summer camp Wednesday at the Carnegie Science Center, Brenneman warned her, “We like worms; be gentle.”

City of Pittsburgh

Pennsylvanians can take to the streets Tuesday advocating for crime prevention and getting to know their first responders as part of the 32nd annual National Night Out Against Crime.

Founder Matt Peskin said 356 neighborhoods and municipalities have registered statewide, including more than 50 in the Pittsburgh area alone.

Looking Out Foundation

Mona McDonald had no idea how to protect herself.

“There was a certain amount of fear that a lot of women experience just walking around in your everyday life,” she said, recalling herself in the mid-1970s. “You absolutely don’t know how to handle yourself if someone were to approach you, confront you or physically attack you.”

AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

Criminal convictions bring expected consequences — fines, probation, parole and incarceration.

"What they don't tell you ... is that there are about 550 collateral consequences," said state Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery, Bucks). "They're not in the criminal statutes, they're in the other statutes and (enforced) by societal standards."

Supporters believe 2015 could finally be the year for a bill promising to wipe clean criminal records from low-level offenders truly committed to rehabilitation.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Months-long wait times between appointments, rampant Legionnaire’s contamination, controversy over data manipulation and other problems plaguing Pittsburgh’s veteran’s affairs office were an unfortunate norm nationwide, the department head said Tuesday.

Courtesy of Heather Arnet

Women and Girls Foundation CEO Heather Arnet is seeking the Democratic nomination to run in a special election to fill former Sen. Matt Smith’s seat representing Allegheny and Washington counties in the 37th District.

Democratic committee members have yet to schedule a vote to cement Arnet's candidacy, though one is expected in the coming weeks. 

Rebecca Devereaux / 90.5 WESA

  Pittsburgh Bike Share swayed more than 7,000 riders into 10,000 trips in Healthy Ride’s first month of operation.

Environmental permits issued to Royal Dutch Shell could pave the way for construction of the proposed Appalachia ethane cracker in Beaver County, the Department of Environmental Protection said Monday. 

Legislation to lower eligibility requirements for children receiving free summer meals was touted in Washington last week by co-sponsor U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, Jr.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Port Authority of Allegheny County officials are considering charging up to a $5 fee for their credit card-like ConnectCards to help offset more than $1 million already incurred to purchase and support their use.

More than 350,000 ConnectCards have been distributed for free since they began replacing paper passes and tickets in 2012. Spokesman Jim Ritchie said the authority swallows about $2.95 per card.

The proposed $5 charge would make the program more sustainable, he said.

Gov. Tom Wolf issued a temporary stay of execution on Thursday for convicted killer Hubert Lester Michael, who was set to die the next day.

It’s the governor’s second intervention since he took office. He promised in February to grant a reprieve to any inmate whose execution date comes before the results of the newly established Pennsylvania Task Force and Advisory Committee on Capital Punishment are published.

Lawmakers met in Harrisburg Tuesday to announce the formation of a legislative group aimed at reforming the boundaries for Congressional districts.

The bipartisan, bicameral group cited a plethora of misshapen, poorly drawn district boundaries that they said pressure lawmakers to toe the party line at the expense of political compromise.

Democratic Sen. Rob Teplitz of Dauphin County considers himself Exhibit A. Maps were redrawn after his election, so the voters he now serves didn’t actually choose him – they inherited him.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Like a lot of her classmates, 11-year-old Laney Staples has a second job.

“Their first job is to be a good student,” said Propel McKeesport teacher Keith Smetak, 41, of Irwin standing nearby. “Laney, here, is our tour guide.”

She tutors, too. Some children are bankers, others part of a tech-savvy “geek squad.” These positions offer Smetak’s middle-schoolers “a light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

  Native Pittsburgher Jim Joseph knew he couldn’t go to a bank to meet his needs, “to check the box, so to speak,” on small land improvements that would tip the scale for companies excited to lease portions of his 80-acre, West Virginia property for distribution plants or manufacturing work.

It’s a catch-22, he said. His company, Trimodal Terminal, can’t renovate its rail access or install water and gas lines without cash, and he doesn’t qualify for a loan if the land isn’t up to code.

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