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.

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Health
3:16 pm
Mon September 29, 2014

Pitt Gets Grant For Public Health Training Center

The federal government has awarded nearly $3.4 million to be doled out over the next four years to the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health to establish one of 10 public health training centers across the nation with the hopes of improving national health.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) selected Pitt to create the Region 3 Center, which will provide free training sessions to public health professionals in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

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Government & Politics
7:54 am
Mon September 29, 2014

Municipal Police Lobbying For Radar Guns

There are only six session days left on the calendar this session for the Pennsylvania General Assembly, and municipal police are lobbying for a set of bills that would allow them to use radar guns.

Senate Bill 1340 and House Bill 1272 would allow all police officers in the state to use the devices, not just state troopers, who have been using radar for more than 50 years. Neither has received a vote.

Municipal police departments have multiple options when it comes to catching speeders.

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Health
2:31 pm
Fri September 26, 2014

Allegheny General Hospital Adds Specialized Epilepsy Unit

With the hope of being able to help epilepsy patients who have not responded to other treatments, Allegheny General Hospital Friday opened a unit designed to monitor and evaluate those who suffer from the condition.

The division includes four private rooms, each equipped with a video camera and an EEG (electroencephalography) device, which, combined, allows physicians to record patient behavior and their neurological activity.

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Pennsylvania
3:32 pm
Wed September 24, 2014

Pittsburgh Food Bank Joins State Milk Distribution Program

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday it’s partnering with Schneider’s Dairy and the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank to expand the state’s milk distribution program.

The food bank will now be able to purchase milk from Schneider’s at a reduced rate and then, after covering 15-30 percent of the cost, sell it to food pantries for an estimated 50 cents a quart.  Those pantries, spread across 11 counties will in turn give it for free to in-need Pennsylvanians.

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Arts & Culture
3:59 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

Two Pittsburgh Museums Land Grants

The Institute of Museum and Library Services has awarded more than $300,000 to two Pittsburgh museums.

The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh was able to snag $149,611, while the Carnegie Museum of Natural History received two grants, one for $25,000 and another for $147,462.

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Transportation
4:35 pm
Fri September 19, 2014

Pennsylvania's Highways Ranked Among Worst In Nation

Pennsylvania’s highways among the worst in the nation, according to a report released Thursday by a Los Angeles nonprofit.

The commonwealth has dropped from 40th to 41st in “overall highway performance and cost effectiveness,” according to the Reason Foundation’s 21st annual highway report.

David Hartgen, lead researcher and professor of transportation studies at the University of North Carolina, said the state’s high percentage of deficient bridges, narrow rural lanes and a high fatality rate has caused its rankings to slip.

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Government & Politics
5:26 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

State Senate Committee Passes Bill To Abolish Property Taxes

A bill to eliminate school property tax in Pennsylvania was advanced by the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday on a 6-5 vote.

The “Property Tax Independence Act” would replace property taxes by increasing the state income tax from 3.07 percent to 4.34 percent; sales tax would jump from 6 to 7 percent (8 percent in Allegheny County), together generating an estimated $12 billion for public schools annually.

But, Sharon Ward, director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, said the numbers don’t add up.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:17 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Scottish Highland Games Return to Ligonier

A bagpipe performance at the Ligonier Highland Games
Credit Sandra Cole of Indiana, PA / ligonierhighlandgames

Break out the bagpipes and dust off that kilt because the Ligonier Highland Games are back this weekend, celebrating Celtic culture for a 56th year.

The festivities start Saturday morning at Idlewild Park with dancing, drumming, harping and piping contests, along with a Scottish-breed dog show.

The Heavy Athletics begin at 9 a.m. where the region’s biggest and baddest compete in events such as the caber toss, where contestants throw what looks like a telephone pole end-over end through the air. Athletes will also participate in the hammer throw and sheaf toss, where a 16 to 20 lbs. bundle of straw is launched into the air with a pitchfork.

Richard Wonderly, executive director of the games, said the athletics were originally used hundreds of years ago to prevent confrontation between Celtic clans.

“By getting together to show off your feats of strength, it helped to intimidate the other clans to avoid combat,” he said. “So basically, it was a way to say, ‘Here’s our guys, look how big and strong they are. Maybe you don’t want to mess with us.’”

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:53 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

VFW Celebrates 100 Years In Pittsburgh

VFW historical marker outside of the William Pitt Union
Credit Marcus Charleston

In September of 1914, 250 veterans from across the U.S. and its territories gathered at the Schenley Hotel in Pittsburgh to form what would become the largest veterans’ advocacy group in the nation, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).

The hotel is now the William Pitt Union, but former military members and public officials are assembling there once again to mark the organization's centennial.

“The people can feel that the community supports veterans around here,” Matt Hannan, president of Pitt-Vets, said, “but they don’t understand the legacy of what the veterans have committed to the community and contributed and that that legacy continues.”

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Environment & Energy
3:30 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Alternative-Fuel Vehicle Grants Awarded In Allegheny County

Three companies, a nonprofit and a healthcare provider in Allegheny County have been awarded about $844,000 in state grants for alternative-fuel vehicles.

The Alternative Fuel Incentive Grants are meant to help organizations make the switch to compressed natural gas, propane or electric-powered light- to medium-weight fleet vehicles.

Pittsburgh Region Clean Cities was able to snag nearly 500,000 for its Western Pennsylvania Alternative Fuel School Bus Program, which will use $250,000 toward the purchase of 50 propane-powered buses.

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Pittsburgh Police Chief
4:38 pm
Fri September 12, 2014

New Police Chief McLay Outlines Job Goals

Incoming Police Chief Cameron McLay vowed to restore trust and rebuild morale in the police bureau during his first public appearance in Pittsburgh Friday.

McLay, who was nominated for the position by Mayor Bill Peduto Sept. 2, will begin work Monday, replacing acting Chief Regina McDonald. McDonald had been serving in that post since February 2013, when former chief Nate Harper resigned. Harper is serving 18 months in federal prison for using approximately $32,000 in city funds on personal expenditures.

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Remembering 9/11
7:53 am
Thu September 11, 2014

How Artifacts Changed The Telling Of Sept. 11 Attacks

Before the fires were extinguished or the cleanups began, archivists from the Smithsonian museums had already started collecting artifacts from the sites of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Thirteen years later, Alima Bucciantini, an assistant professor of public history at Duquesne University, wants to know what kind of impact the immediate exhibition of these objects had on the telling of the story of 9/11.

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Community
3:53 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

Fast Food Worker Protest in Wilkinsburg Leads to 8 Arrests

Police try to get protesters who sat down in Penn Ave. outside of the McDonald's in Wilkinsburg Thursday to move. Officers eventually made wight arrests
Credit Micheal Lynch / 90.5 WESA

The nationwide fight over a higher minimum wage for fast food workers landed eight Pittsburgh-area protesters behind bars Thursday.

More than 100 workers and supporters hit the streets in front of the McDonald’s restaurant in Wilkinsburg demanding wages of $15 an hour and union representation.

Local fast food workers have been holding rallies, pickets and job walk offs for months, but Thursday’s event was supported by similar rallies planned in nearly 150 U.S. cities.

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bike lanes
4:05 pm
Wed September 3, 2014

City To Install Bike Lanes On Pittsburgh Bridges

The City of Pittsburgh will add temporary bike lanes to the Andy Warhol Bridge
Credit Michael Lynch / 90.5 WESA

Some of Pittsburgh’s busiest bridges are about to become bicycle friendly.

Cycling enthusiasts, along with city and Allegheny County officials, announced Wednesday the addition of short- and long-term bike lanes to the Andy Warhol, Roberto Clemente and 10th Street bridges.

Two temporary lanes will be painted on the Andy Warhol Bridge following rush hour Thursday morning, four days before the Pro Walk/Pro Bike Conference is set to kick off at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

The lanes will remain open through Sept. 13 to aid in conference transportation.

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Health
3:30 am
Tue September 2, 2014

Children's Hospital Lands $1.9 Million Grant To Study Acute Brain Injury

Children with acute brain injury account for roughly 10 percent of all hospital admissions in the U.S. and half of all childhood deaths, but one Pittsburgh researcher believes the emphasis should be on rehabilitation as opposed to survival rates.

Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh physician-scientist Dr. Ericka Fink landed a $1.9 million grant Thursday to study early rehabilitation therapies on children with acute brain injury.

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Education
3:30 am
Mon September 1, 2014

Western Pennsylvania Schools Snag More Than $300,000 In Highmark Grants

More than $300,000 has been awarded to western Pennsylvania schools as part of the Highmark Foundation’s “Creating a Healthy School Environment” initiative.

Grants ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 were given to 55 programs ranging from bullying and injury prevention to healthy eating and physical education.

The Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh Charter School was given $5,000 for its “Wii Love to be Fit” program, which looks to bring fitness and sports-themed video games into the classroom to make up for the school’s lack of gymnasium space.

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Environment & Energy
3:30 am
Mon September 1, 2014

Low-Income Families Turn To Utility Assistance, Home Weatherization To Lower Winter Costs

For many low-income families, summer and fall have become synonymous with one thing—utility shut off season.

In Pennsylvania, utilities can’t terminate services between Dec. 1 and March 31 if a household’s income is 250 percent of the federal poverty level or below, which equates to a family of four earning $4,969 per month or less.

But for the other eight months out of the year, utilities actively pursue late-paying customers. That’s where groups such as the Holy Family Institute come in.

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Transportation
10:36 am
Thu August 28, 2014

Area Businesses Won't Benefit From Labor Day Travel

Nearly 5 million people from New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania are expected to travel 50 miles or more this Labor Day weekend for their last hurrahs of summer, according to AAA.

That’s a 0.6 percent increase from last year, according to AAA spokeswoman Teresa Adams. She said people are trying to squeeze the last drops of summer out of the holiday weekend.

“The school year’s starting, the weather is beautiful,” she said, “[and] we have an opportunity to get out there one last time before the winter and the snow.”

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Public Safety
2:02 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Despite a Slow Start, Text-To-911 Service Gaining In Popularity

The Allegheny County 911 Center has received 185 text-to-911 messages since the service was introduced in May, according to the Department of Emergency Services.

Gary Thomas, assistant chief and 911 coordinator for the department, said no one knew what to expect when the service was implemented.

“It’s working,” he said. “As far as where we should be, no one really can tell because this is fairly new technology to the 911 industry.”

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Environment & Energy
3:25 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

PUC, West Penn Power Reach $1.3 Million Settlement

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission today approved a $1.3 million settlement with West Penn Power after the distribution company missed energy reduction requirements in 2011.

According to the PUC, West Penn Power, a First Energy company, violated the state’s energy conservation law, Act 129, when it failed to reduce its consumption by 1 percent in May 2011. Under the law, West Penn Power was required to decrease its energy intake by 209,387 megawatt-hours, but reported savings of 90,520 megawatt-hours.

West Penn was the only utility to miss the May 2011 deadline.

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Public Safety
4:34 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

City, County 911 Centers To Finalize Merger

Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh agreed to co-locate 911 services in 2004, and 10 years later, that merger has reached its final phase.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, along with Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, today announced the merger will enter its last stage next week, with full consolidation to be complete by mid-September.

This phase is focused on getting the 214 employees at the Allegheny County 911 Center familiar with all 130 municipal codes, according to Director of Allegheny County Emergency Services Chief Alvin Henderson.

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Science & Technology
3:30 am
Mon August 18, 2014

CMU Photo Editing Tool Manipulates Objects in 3D

Editing photographs is almost as old as, well, photography itself, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of California, Berkeley have taken image manipulation to another dimension — literally.

They’ve developed software that enables users to move and animate objects in a photograph — exposing angles, sides and surfaces unseen in the original image.

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Animals
4:30 pm
Fri August 15, 2014

Zebras Return to the Pittsburgh Zoo

Spencer grazes in the new enclosure.
Michael Lynch 90.5 WESA

After a six-year absence, zebras have returned to the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.

Penny and Spencer grazed and trotted their way around the new African Overlook exhibit for just the third time this morning. The pair of Grant’s zebras will eventually share their habitat with the giraffes, but for now, the animals are taking turns getting used to the environment.

Ken Kaemmerer, the curator of mammals at the zoo, said the animals have taken a liking to their new digs.

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Economy & Business
3:05 pm
Thu August 14, 2014

State Gives $7 Million For Airport Development Project

Gov. Tom Corbett announced Thursday that the state is investing $7 million to turn a 195-acre brownfield site at Pittsburgh International Airport into an international trade hub.

The site, which is federally-designated for international trade, is expected to include 1 million square feet of office space, 90,000 square feet of research and development space and a 400-room hotel and convention center.

The “Pittsburgh International Airport World Trade Center” is expected to bring more than $200 million in private investment, as well as create 7,000 jobs—1,200 in construction.

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Environment & Energy
9:59 am
Thu August 14, 2014

Report Suggests Some PA Well Operators Are In Violation Of Federal Law

Dozens of oil and gas companies across 12 states, including Pennsylvania, are using prohibited diesel fuels in hydraulic fracking, according to a report released Wednesday by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP).

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Government & Politics
3:45 pm
Wed August 13, 2014

Casey Seeking $10M To Cut Down On Backlogged Black Lung Claims

Late last month, Deputy Labor Secretary Chris Lu announced that his department would seek a nearly $3 million funding increase for the Office of Administrative Law Judges to handle a growing backlog of black lung benefits claims.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) will send a letter to the Obama administration Thursday requesting an additional $10 million that would go towards hiring 20 new Administrative Law Judges.

Casey said the office needs to drastically increase its budget to keep up with the growing backlog of black lung claims.

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Community
12:24 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

Pittsburgh Humanitarian Groups Send Ebola Aid To Africa

An international humanitarian aid organization in Pittsburgh is assembling medical supply kits for healthcare workers treating Ebola patients in Africa.

Global Links has collected an estimated 1,000 gloves, goggles, gowns and masks; nearly all donated as surplus equipment from regional healthcare facilities.

“Through hospitals, through other health organizations, 95 percent of everything we send are recovered materials that would often end up in the landfill if we weren’t taking it,” Global Links CEO Kathleen Hower said.

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Government & Politics
4:13 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

U.S. Reps. Rothfus, Murphy Calling For VA Transparency

In November, the U.S. Dept. of Justice completed an investigation into six Legionnaires’ disease-related deaths at the Pittsburgh Veteran’s Affairs Healthcare System, and found no VA employees were criminally liable.

Now, U.S. Reps. Keith Rothfus (R-PA-12) and Tim Murphy (R-PA-18), along with House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation Chairman Mike Coffman (R-CO-6) are calling for “full and open accounting” of administrative disciplinary actions taken against the VA employees.

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Energy
4:59 pm
Tue August 5, 2014

Pennsylvania Electric Companies Look To Raise Rates

Penn Power and West Penn Power customers could pay more for their electricity beginning this fall.

The companies, subsidiaries of FirstEnergy, filed rate hike requests with the state Public Utility Commission (PUC) Monday.

West Penn Power, which serves about 720,000 customers, is seeking an increase of more than $115 million per year. If approved, average residential customers would see a nearly 15 percent increase—or $13.26—in their monthly bill.

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Religion & Faith
1:08 pm
Tue August 5, 2014

Pray for Peace in Point State Park

Representatives of Pittsburgh’s Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities will gather at Point State Park Wednesday for a 15-minute silent prayer vigil focused on ending violence and conflict.

Starting at noon, participants will hold white flowers and pray for peace in Central America, Ukraine, and elsewhere. The ceremony will end a quarter hour later with the ringing of a bell.

Helene Paharik, associate general secretary with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, said the prayer will not include any spoken words or speeches.

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