Michael Lynch

News Fellow

The Erie, PA native has been a fellow in the WESA news department since May 2013. Having earned a bachelor's degree in print journalism from Duquesne University, he is now pursuing an M.A. in multi-media management. Michael describes his career aspiration as "I want to do it all in journalism."

Personal fun facts:  "a typical Penguins' and Pirates' fan;" inaugural recipient of the Roy McHugh Prize for Writing Excellence, and vinyl record collector.

Ways To Connect

Shona Na. / Flickr

Twenty-five counties across Pennsylvania are splitting $2 million in funds from the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in an effort to fight West Nile virus and the mosquitos that carry it.

Allegheny County received $171,400 this year to study and control the infected insect populations, while Philadelphia County received the most with a $244,340 grant.

The Pennsylvania horse racing industry received more than $242 million from slot machine revenue in 2014, but interest in the sport is waning, according to an annual report released Tuesday by the Gaming Control Board.

Last year, 11 percent of the $2.3 billion generated by slot machines went to the Pennsylvania Horse Development Fund, which establishes racing prizes, in-state breeding incentives, as well as health and pension benefits for horsemen and their families.

Michael Lynch / 90.5 WESA

The original Frick Environmental Center was lost in a five-alarm fire 13 years ago, but on Friday, workers placed the final beam on top of the new education facility that is being called “one of the greenest buildings on Earth.”

The $10.5 million center is expected to earn a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification, the highest possible designation, as well as a Living Building Challenge title, which requires the use of non-toxic building materials and measures water and energy consumption after construction is completed.

Don Loarie / Flickr

In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded 27,203 cases of Lyme disease nationwide, 4,981 of which were in Pennsylvania. And, for the last five years, Pennsylvania has reported more cases of Lyme disease than any other state.

As temperatures rise and people begin to spend more time outdoors, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) is calling for an increase in federal surveillance.

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Although its air quality is improving, Pittsburgh still ranks among the most polluted U.S. cities.

That’s according to the latest State of the Air report released Wednesday by the American Lung Association (ALA). According to the study, Pittsburgh improved in all measures, including particle and ozone pollution levels, but still fell below national air quality standards.

If you have ever paid your property taxes and wondered why you were making the check out to the treasurer’s name rather than to the office, you are not alone.  State Rep. Ryan Mackenzie (R-Berks) has introduced a bill that would make such a practice illegal.

“This is a very bad practice, it’s a loophole that is ripe for abuse and fraud,” Mackenzie said. “Individuals collect taxes in their name and instead of depositing it into the tax account it makes its way into their individual account.”

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Spring Gallery Crawl will look a little more like a pub crawl this season.

The Trust has partnered with Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week to bring 11 taste-testing stations to the Cultural District’s quarterly arts festival.

A recent study by the Rand Corp. found high school students in technology-enhanced learning (TEL) algebra courses were able to learn twice as much as students enrolled in traditional courses.

Carnegie Mellon University has received a two-year, $1 million grant from the Carnegie Corp. of New York to support the school’s Simon Initiative, which looks to study and improve learning outcomes through technology in everything from computer science to ancient history classes.

In 2013, there were 1.1 million firearm-related background checks conducted in Pennsylvania.

Now, state Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R- Washington/Greene) has introduced legislation that would eliminate that background check.

Currently, firearm customers need to register for the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS) and the National Instant Check System (NICS) before they can purchase a gun. If Bartolotta’s bill passes, Pennsylvania will join the 36 states that solely rely on the national system.

As the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre announced Thursday it would be entering the public phase of a $20 million school expansion project as it prepares to end its 45th season.

So far, PBT has raised $13.6 million in an effort to expand its campus in the Strip District and Lawrenceville, grow its $8 million endowment by 50 percent and establish an innovation fund to keep programs and performances going.

Andrew-M-Whitman / Flickr

The National Guard can say goodbye to its Apache attack helicopters.

By this fall, the Army will take control of all National Guard Apache aircrafts as part of its Aviation Restructuring Initiative, starting with 24 from the Johnstown Military Aviation Complex and another 24 from the Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri.

Somerset County is trying to find a way to connect the Flight 93 National Memorial with the Great Allegheny Passage as part of a 1,100-mile September 11 National Memorial Trail, which would link the World Trade Center and Pentagon with the Flight 93 crash site.

Michael Lynch / 90.5 WESA

After nearly two years of development and delays, Pittsburgh’s bike share program is finally ready to roll.

Through “Healthy Ride,” 500 bikes will be placed at 50 stations around the city, including downtown, the North Side, South Side, Oakland and the East End.

For some, opera means women in Viking helmets singing century-old arias, but that’s not the case with CO-OPERA.

A year-long collaborative effort among Carnegie Mellon University’s schools of Art, Computer Science, Drama and Music, as well as the Pittsburgh Opera, CO-OPERA brings students, faculty and alumni together to produce and perform five original modern operas.

Pennsylvania State Police will now carry the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone in their cruisers.

In Pennsylvania, heroin and prescription drug abuse is the leading cause of accidental death, killing more people each year than motor vehicle accidents. In 2014, state police investigated 183 overdose deaths and 126 non-fatal overdoses, according to Gary Tennis, acting secretary of the Department of Drug and alcohol Programs.

Bishop David Zubik announced Wednesday the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh will no longer charge to annul marriages.

The diocese is answering the call of Pope Francis, who previously proposed the elimination of all fees related to sacraments, including marriage, and in this case, the annulment of that union. According to the Rev. Thomas Kunz, judicial vicar for the Diocese of Pittsburgh, the annulment fees have prevented some Catholics from experiencing the sacraments within the church.

You take the good with the bad.

That’s what officials at the Allegheny County Health Department said about the sixth annual County Health Rankings released last week.

According to the report, the county improved from 40th to 34th in health outcomes, but fell from 15th to 19th in health factors, which include measurements of health behaviors, social and economic factors and physical environments.

Pittsburgh City Council will take a final vote Tuesday to approve a $500,000 state grant to renovate Knoxville Library.

The Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Award would help cover the costs of adding a second public meeting space and a new teen area to the library, as well as structural updates to comply with ADA accessibility mandates.

According to the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Assistant Director of Neighborhood Libraries Mary Monaghan, the Knoxville branch was built in the 1960s and hasn’t been renovated since.

Christopher Lancaster / Flickr

The Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN)  announced on Thursday the creation of a subcommittee tasked with developing a Customer Assistance Program, similar to those available for electricity and natural gas utilities.

Michael Lynch / 90.5 WESA

When Diane Faust started losing her eyesight in 2008 as a result of optic nerve damage, she didn’t know where to turn, but she knew she had two options.

“I could hide in my house the rest of my life, ignore the outside world,” Faust said. “Or, I could try to gain as much of my independence back and get back to as much of a normal life as possible. Those folks have been so instrumental in helping me to do that.”

On Monday, nearly 20 student organizations are expected to meet with community leaders at the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium in Oakland to announce the formation of a student-run diversity council.

The organization will work with university officials, students and the greater Pittsburgh area to bring attention to diversity-related problems, said Ernest Rajakone, senior advisor for Pitt’s South Asian Student Association and a diversity council student organizer.

Rajakone said there are dozens of ethnic and cultural groups at Pitt, but there is a lack of unity among them.

Michael Lynch / 90.5 WESA

Despite not having a professional team, basketball is expected to bring big bucks to the city of Pittsburgh this weekend.

Tourism agency VisitPittsburgh projects as much as $7 million will be pumped into the local economy thanks to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championships at the Consol Energy Center on March 19 and 21.

Michael Lynch / 90.5 WESA

Public safety officials from around the Pittsburgh region joined U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) at the Allegheny County Courthouse today as he announced his support for a bill that would form a national train derailment task force.

The Railroad Emergency Services Preparedness, Operational Needs and Safety Evaluation, or RESPONSE ACT, would create a new set of training and resource recommendations for derailment first responders. It would be a subcommittee under the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

David Trawin / flickr

Support for legalizing medical marijuana is growing in Pennsylvania, according to a poll conducted by Robert Morris University.

The survey showed 67.5 percent of Pennsylvanians are in favor of legalizing medical marijuana, up from 56.1 percent in a similar RMU poll last year.

Children with mental health issues in Pennsylvania face a variety of challenges as they age, including difficulties finding state and federal assistance, as well as proper healthcare.

These issues and more are being addressed today and Thursday by State Rep. Dan Miller (D-Allegheny) at his second annual Children and Youth Disability and Mental Health Summit.

“Anybody, in my opinion, who are dealing with disabilities in mental health, cannot be satisfied by what we are seeing from our state and federal government now,” Miller said.

Cory Doctorow / flickr

For the second time in two years, the Pennsylvania House is considering a bill that would expand high school students’ access to advanced placement (AP) courses in the state.

House Bill 512, introduced by Rep. James Roebuck (D-Philadelphia), would establish standard practices for how public colleges and universities accept transferable credits from students who pass AP, International Baccalaureate or College-Level Examination exams. The measure has moved out of committee and awaits action by the full house.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Two bills are sitting in the Senate Committee on State Government aimed at strengthening Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law.

Legislation introduced by Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna) would bring more transparency to state-related universities, while Sen. Dominic Pileggi’s (R-Delaware) bill would establish a fee structure for commercial requests and update definitions within the law.

More than two dozen former Pennsylvania Department of Health nurses were offered reinstatement by Gov. Tom Wolf last week after their positions were eliminated by the Corbett administration.

In November, the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, which sued Gov. Tom Corbett in 2013 over his plan to close 26 community health centers and eliminate 26 nursing positions to save an estimated $3.4 million a year.

Powerfund / flickr

It could be a big year for energy decisions; state and federal policies could affect everything from conservation to energy costs:

  • The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is set to unveil the next phase of its Energy Efficiency program, which requires electricity distribution companies to implement energy conservation plans, later this month.
  • Later this year, courts will decide whether conservation programs should be run by the utilities who sell energy or the owners of the grid who distribute it.
  • And, the Environmental Protection Agency will finalize new carbon emissions standards this summer.

PennDOT

Some Pennsylvanians will be receiving new driver’s licenses after PennDOT officials learned Wednesday a vendor error led to security flaws in more than 100,000 cards.

According to PennDOT, the laminate supplied by Morpho Trust USA and its subcontractor OpSec, did not include the correct hidden security image. Viewed under an ultraviolet black light, proper licenses show a row of keystones with the letters “PA.” The defective cards read “AP” instead.

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