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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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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Life of Learning
3:30 am
Tue August 5, 2014

CMU, Google Team Up To Improve Online Education

Carnegie Mellon University and Google are teaming up to make Massive Open Online Courses more engaging.
Credit Mathieu Plourde / Flickr

There are more than 7 million students around the world enrolled in some 12,000 Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, with topics ranging from oil and acrylic painting techniques to developmental artificial intelligence.

But, MOOCs aren’t your typical online classes. They’re free; they don’t go towards earning a degree; and, rarely are there assignments, but therein lies the problem.

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School Funding
5:01 pm
Fri August 1, 2014

Corbett Upset With House Delay in Vote To Fund Philadelphia Schools With Cigarette Tax

Pennsylvania House Republican leaders today called off a vote planned for next week that would authorize a cigarette tax to fund Philadelphia schools in the coming year.

The bill would impose a two-dollar-a-pack tax on cigarettes to help close a $93 million budget gap that could delay the start of Philadelphia’s school year, leading to larger class sizes and employee layoffs.

Gov. Tom Corbett disagreed with the House decision and plans to talk with GOP leaders about their next move.

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Community
12:33 pm
Fri August 1, 2014

Bayer Pulls Mt. Washington Ad; Nonprofit Looks To Revitalize Hillside

Bayer Corp. decided to pull the plug on its 30-foot tall Mt. Washington sign Thursday, ending a 21-year-old contract with Lamar Advertising.

With the future of the billboard up in the air, nonprofit group Scenic Pittsburgh is asking for community input via a Facebook survey.

Mike Dawida, Scenic Pittsburgh executive director, said the majority of people polled want to see some kind of change made to the more than 90-year-old sign.

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Transportation
3:49 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Pittsburgh Parking Rates Increase Friday

Parking rates are scheduled to rise August, 1
Credit 90.5 WESA's Michael Lynch

More than two dozen Pittsburgh Parking Authority (PPA) lots and garages across the city are increasing rates Friday.

The increases vary by location. All-day parking at the Third Avenue Garage will jump from $12.75 to $16; the Oliver Garage will rise $4.25 to $17; and, the Mellon Square and Smithfield-Liberty garages will remain the most expensive city-owned parking structures in the city at $18.

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Environment & Energy
2:50 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Coal Supporters Rally At Highmark Stadium

Coal supporters listen to a speech by Chris Hamilton, senior vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association.
Credit Michael Lynch / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania is the fourth-largest coal-producing state in the nation and Fred Hails, a fifth-generation coal miner from Washington County, wants to see it stay that way.

“You’re going to see rolling blackouts,” he said. “You’re going to have high electric bills, and I don’t see the sense in shipping our jobs overseas and buying back energy to support our country.”

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Economy & Business
3:38 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Passenger Traffic Continues To Fall At Pittsburgh International Airport

Pittsburgh International Airport added three new flights this year with hopes of increasing passenger traffic, but according to airport reports, the number of passengers rolling through Pittsburgh has dropped 21 percent since 2006.

Eight years ago, 9,949,049 passengers traveled through the airport. In 2013, that number has fallen to 7,854,181.

Ashley Henry Shook, an Allegheny County Airport Authority board member, said the numbers tend to fluctuate throughout the year.

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Community
3:53 pm
Fri July 25, 2014

Cheetahs Make Debut At Pittsburgh Zoo

Two of the cheetahs prepare to leave their temporary habitat.
90.5 WESA's Michael Lynch

Ajamu, Ramses, Nalah and Zola arrived in the U.S. from Africa more than six months ago, but today, the four young cheetahs made their first public appearance at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.

The cats moved slowly from their temporary habitat into their new 7,500 square-foot enclosure next to the African Overlook. But within minutes, the world’s fastest land animals showed just how quick they can be, sprinting their way around the new surroundings.

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Witness identification
10:43 am
Fri July 25, 2014

DA Wants Pittsburgh Police To Change Eyewitness ID Procedures

Prosecutors must approve felony arrest warrants issued by Pittsburgh police because of concerns expressed by Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala over the bureau’s eyewitness identification procedures.

In a letter to city officials, Zappala wrote that Pittsburgh police must adopt eyewitness identification procedures outlined by the Allegheny County Chiefs of Police Association by August 16. If not, eyewitnesses might be used to establish a suspect, but the information provided could not be used to charge an individual.

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