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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Community
3:30 am
Mon November 24, 2014

Allegheny County Searching For 'Snow Angels'

Snow might be one of the most dreaded four-letter words in Western Pennsylvania, but city and country officials are trying to make it a little less frightful for elderly and disabled residents.

This winter, the volunteer-based snow removal program, Snow Angels, is expanding throughout Allegheny County.

The program pairs volunteers of any age with residents 60 or older, or those with disabilities, to assist with shoveling snow along driveways and sidewalks. Since Snow Angels’ in 2011, volunteers have shoveled more than 50,000-square-feet of city sidewalks.

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Science & Technology
7:44 am
Thu November 20, 2014

CMU Students Create App For ALS Patients

There are an estimated 30,000 Americans living with Lou Gehrigs Disease, also known as, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, at any given time, according to the ALS Association.

Neil Alexander is one of those people.

“You eventually become paralyzed,” he said, “and you can’t speak.”

That’s where iExpress comes in.

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Health
4:38 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

Health Department 'Very Concerned' About Syphilis Increase

Syphilis cases in Allegheny County have risen about 75 percent this year compared to 2013, the Allegheny County Health Department said Wednesday.

As of Nov. 10, 98 syphilis cases have been reported in the county, compared to 56 this time last year. After a drop in cases in the late 1990s and early 2000s, syphilis has been on the rise since 2005, locally and nationally.  

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Pennsylvania
3:22 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

Judge Orders Former UPMC Employees Be Reinstated

Protestors support UPMC workers at a March rally outside UPMC headquarters in downtown Pittsburgh.
Credit Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Workers’ rights activists and former UPMC employees joined city and state officials in Downtown Pittsburgh Monday to celebrate a ruling that found UPMC violated the National Labor Relations Act.

In a 123-page decision issued Friday, National Labor Relations Administrative Law Judge Mark Carissimi ruled in favor of the Service Employees International Union on 21 issues, including the reinstatement of Ron Oakes, Finley Littlejohn, Jim Staus and Al Turner, who were terminated after engaging in union organizing activities.

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Transportation
3:30 am
Mon November 17, 2014

After 5 Years of Reconstruction, Route 28 Reopens Monday

After five years of reconfiguration and reconstruction, PA Route 28 reopens completely Monday.

The five-phase project, which started in 2009, rebuilt the road from Millvale to the North Side and cost $106,360,957, according to PennDOT spokesman Steve Cowan.

“This project has been decades in the making,” he said. “The major features are grade separated interchanges rather than traffic signals at the intersections of the 31st and 40th Street bridges.”

He said removing the traffic lights should ease congestion along the roadway.

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Transportation
1:58 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

Turnpike Officials Unveil Alternative Fuel Stations In New Stanton

More than 112,000 vehicles run on compressed natural gas (CNG) in the United States, the majority of which are commercial fleets, according to the Department of Energy, and those motorists now have one more place to fill up in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission officials Thursday unveiled three CNG fueling stations at the New Stanton Plaza in Westmoreland County. It is the first of the turnpike’s 17 plazas to offer the alternative fuel and is only accessible for westbound travelers.

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Government & Politics
4:17 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

Peduto Calls Budget Rejection A "Hostile Action"

The Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (ICA), a state operated financial oversight committee, has rejected Mayor Bill Peduto’s nearly $508 million 2015 spending plan Tuesday for a second time.

The ICA said the city continuously ignored the board’s request for financial information, including property tax and parking meter rate adjustment specifics, as well as failing to provide a “signed EMS contract.”

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Autism
11:46 am
Tue November 11, 2014

Local Organizations Land Grants from Autism Speaks

Autism Speaks, a national advocacy organization, has awarded nearly $930,000 in grants to community groups nationwide, including some in Western Pennsylvania.  

Grants totaling $5,000 each will go to UPMC’s Theiss Early Autism Program, a development center for children diagnosed with autism, and Intermediate Unit 1, an educational support agency.

The Theiss Early Autism Program will use the grant to enhance its Community and Family Involvement initiative.

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Veterans
3:20 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

Allegheny Conference Launches Job Search Site For Veterans

The Allegheny Conference on Community Development launched a job search website Monday designed to connect veterans with energy and manufacturing opportunities in the region.

The Service to Opportunity initiative, which is free for veterans and employers, allows vets to upload their resumes and helps connect them with career opportunities based on their individual skill set.

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Health
3:30 am
Mon November 10, 2014

Women's Health Advocates Call for SelectPlan Extension

Women’s health advocates in Pennsylvania are calling on the Corbett administration to extend a low-income women’s health insurance program set to expire at the end of the year.

The Women’s Health Caucus sent a letter Thursday to state Human Services Secretary Beverly Mackereth asking for a one-year extension of the SelectPlan for Women program, which provides coverage for gynecological exams, emergency contraception and breast and cervical cancer screenings for an estimated 90,000 women in the commonwealth.

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Community
2:20 pm
Fri November 7, 2014

BNY Mellon Invests $1 Million In Technology Innovation Competition

BNY Mellon and the BNY Mellon Foundation of Southwestern Pennsylvania are teaming up with The Forbes Funds to help local nonprofits solve social challenges through technology.

The bank is putting up $500,000 and its foundation is investing $550,000 in a competition that will bring together nonprofits and private sector entrepreneurs to develop technological innovations.

Matt Zieger, executive-in-residence for social innovation at The Forbes Funds, said the nonprofit community is often held back from technology adoption because of underfunding.

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Election 2014
12:25 am
Wed November 5, 2014

Kelly Defeats LaVallee For 3rd Congressional District Seat

Republican Mike Kelly will represent Pennsylvania’s third congressional district for a third two-year term after defeating Democratic challenger Dan LaVallee with about 60 percent of the vote.

Kelly, a Butler resident, spoke with LaVallee following the returns, and said both were happy to have run clean campaigns.

“I think that what we’re both very pleased with is the fact that we kept it above the belt,” he said. “We didn’t throw dirt on each other. We didn’t do a lot of things that you see on some other campaigns.”

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Health
3:15 pm
Tue November 4, 2014

Allegheny General, UPMC Presbyterian Hospitals Offer MitraClip Heart Surgery

Allegheny General Hospital and UPMC Presbyterian Hospital are the first in the region to offer a minimally invasive heart surgery that allows physicians to operate as the heart beats.

The MitraClip is designed to treat degenerative mitral regurgitation (MR), a heart condition where blood flows backwards through the mitral valve, forcing the heart to pump even harder to get the blooding moving in the right direction. MR causes fatigue, shortness of breath and heart failure.

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Science & Technology
3:30 am
Mon November 3, 2014

Pitt Lands Grant To Improve Power Plant Safety

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded nearly $1 million to University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering to improve nuclear power plant safety.

Principal investigator and Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering Kevin Chen will use the $987,000 to develop radiation-resistant fiber optic cable sensors capable of measuring properties such as temperature, pressure and hydrogen levels in the event of a nuclear emergency.

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Arts & Culture
4:30 pm
Wed October 29, 2014

Rivers of Steel Honors Regional Artists, Storytellers

Cathleen Bailey's quilt "Deathly Hallows Destruction."
Credit Cathleen Bailey

Sam Robinson doesn’t consider himself to be an artist, but he sure can tell a story.

“I kind of got used to asking questions and learning about things from my father,” he said. “So certainly that heritage has made it easier for me…”

The 64-year-old tour guide is one of 12 regional artists and storytellers being honored by the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area Wednesday for their work in preserving history and culture.

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Government & Politics
3:30 am
Mon October 27, 2014

CMU Research Says Competition Is At The Heart Of Extreme Politics

Why have Democrats and Republicans become so divided? And why can’t Congress seem to agree on anything?

These are the questions that American voters have been asking themselves for years, and new research might finally have an answer.

According to a report released by Carnegie Mellon University, these extreme political differences are the result of close and heated elections.

Researchers have found voters on opposite ends of the political gamut tend to favor more polarizing candidates when an election is thought to be close.

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Breast Cancer
2:13 pm
Fri October 24, 2014

Activists Urge Susan G. Komen Cut Ties With Fracking Industry

Health and breast cancer awareness advocates delivered 150,000 petitions to the Susan G. Komen offices in Pittsburgh Friday, urging the nonprofit to cut ties with the oil and gas industry.

Groups, including Breast Cancer Action, New Voices Pittsburgh and Food and Water Watch, are urging Komen to refuse a $100,000 check from oil and gas extraction company Baker Hughes, which, according to Forbes.com, saw a net income of roughly $1.6 billion over the last 12 months.

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Health
3:30 am
Mon October 20, 2014

Pitt Lands Grant To Study How Cancer Spreads To Bones

Why do certain cancers spread in bones?

The National Cancer Institute has awarded $2 million over five years to the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine to answer that question.

Researchers will look for ways to repress X-box binding proteins (XBP1s), a molecule that regulates the production of other inflammatory proteins that boost tumor cell growth, in hopes of treating multiple myeloma bone disease.

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Government & Politics
3:09 pm
Fri October 17, 2014

Advocates Call On Congress To Increase Penalties For Convicted Child Abusers

Dozens gathered at the Allegheny County Courthouse courtyard Friday in support of legislation that would increase penalties for those convicted of child abuse.

House Bill 2411, which is sitting in the Senate judiciary committee, would take endangering the welfare of a child from a first degree misdemeanor to a felony if the child is found to have a serious bodily injury or be near death. The offense would increase one degree if the child is under six years old.

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Education
3:30 am
Mon October 13, 2014

CMU Gets $5 Million Grant To Study Learning

Carnegie Mellon University will lead a five-year, $5 million project funded by the National Science Foundation to improve educational outcomes for teachers and students.

Computer scientists will build LearnSphere, an online database designed to store information on learning. Researchers will be able to use the data to study how students learn, while educators can find out how to create better courses in content and delivery.

Project leader and CMU professor Ken Koedinger said LearnSphere will help eliminate what he calls the “expert’s blind spot.”

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Government & Politics
3:30 am
Mon October 13, 2014

State Senate Pass Bill To Bring Energy Efficient Technology Into Commonwealth Buildings

The Pennsylvania Senate unanimously passed a bill Tuesday that would test energy efficient technologies in state buildings.

The State Agency Green Technology Act aims to reduce the commonwealth’s carbon output while saving money, increasing energy conservation and promoting new environmental technologies.

Sen. Matt Smith (D-Allegheny) said, under the bill, state buildings would invest in products such as energy efficient insulation and windows that hold heat in the winter and releases it in the summer.

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Health
3:30 am
Sun October 12, 2014

Pitt Hosting AED Scavenger Hunt

There are four automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) in the Pittsburgh City-County Building, and more than 70 on the campus of Carnegie Mellon University, but how many are in Allegheny County? That’s what the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine wants to know.

The school is hosting the region’s first HeartMap Challenge, a public scavenger hunt to locate all of the county’s AEDs, which are small briefcase-sized electronic devices that can be used to help someone in cardiac arrest.

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Health
3:30 am
Mon October 6, 2014

Pitt Snags $11.8 Million To Study Cleft Lips And Palates

The National Institutes of Health has awarded $11.8 million over five years to the University of Pittsburgh to study the hereditary roots of cleft lips and palates.

Orofacial clefts are small gaps in the lip or palate that form in a baby’s mouth when the child doesn’t develop properly in the womb. These occur in one of every 700 births around the world, according to Mary Marazita, a Pitt professor and director of the Center for Craniofacial and Dental Genetics.

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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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