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

After 15 years as President and CEO of Riverlife, a pro-riverfront development organization, Lisa Schroeder is leaving Pittsburgh.

“The rivers were, in many ways, the sewer of the region, as well as an industrial highway,” Schroeder said. “So it really took some deep digging philosophically to start looking at the riverfronts as the natural treasure.”

More than 300 people filled a ballroom at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Downtown Pittsburgh Thursday to devise the framework for a regional energy development plan.

Representatives from more than 20 energy-related organizations led the event, trying to pinpoint key issues to address in the energy development plan.

Pittsburgh and the surrounding 32 county region have a long history of being energy innovators, according to Power of 32 Implementation Committee Chairman Greg Babe, but the area lacks vision and strategy.

90.5 WESA / Michael Lynch

Dozens of University of Pittsburgh medical students wearing white lab coats and surgical masks lay in the lobby of Scaife Hall Wednesday as part of a national “die-in” to raise awareness of racial injustices.

Students played dead for 4 minutes and 30 seconds to represent the 4 hours and 30 minutes 18-year-old Michael Brown’s body lay in the street after being shot and killed by a white police officer in August in Ferguson, Mo.

Two Pittsburgh organizations known for their sometimes controversial art installations are teaming up to talk about the First Amendment.

Conflict Kitchen in Schenley Plaza and the Mattress Factory on the North Side are hosting a panel discussion Tuesday on the challenges artists face when creating and presenting work inspired by the relationship between Palestine, Israel and the United States.

90.5 / Michael Lynch

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, with the support of Pennsylvania Governor-elect Tom Wolf, announced his bid for re-election Thursday.

The Squirrel Hill Democrat is seeking a second four-year term, and his campaign can be summed up in two words: jobs and transportation.

With desirable jobs come young talent, and according to Fitzgerald, that talent leads to progress.

The Red Kettle Christmas Campaign isn’t seeing as much green as the Salvation Army would like in Western Pennsylvania.

According to the nearly 150-year-old charity, 24 of the 39 Worship and Service Centers are trailing behind last year’s pace. Allegheny County is off by more than $37,500. The charity hopes to raise $577,000 in the county.

Major William Bode, divisional commander of the Salvation Army’s Western Pennsylvania Division, said the popularity of online shopping could be one reason for lag in donations.

More than 60 percent of Allegheny County’s impoverished residents live in suburban neighborhoods, according to a 2013 report by the Brookings Institution, and veterans make up about 33 percent of Pittsburgh’s homeless population.

Those are just two of the reasons why the United Way of Allegheny County announced Wednesday that the nonprofit will expand several programs over the next three years to improve the quality of life for struggling families, women and veterans in the region.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said he will “not let congressional gridlock get in the way of progress” as he and more than 20 other mayors from across the country launched Cities United for Immigration Action (CUIA) Monday. 

Pittsburgh’s newest film studio is open for business – sort of.

Studio C, located in a 120,000-square-foot facility in Robinson, opened its doors to location scouts and studio representatives Monday as part of a soft opening, according to Cyndi Casteel, vice president of business development.

The studio won’t be open to the public for at least another week due to construction, but Casteel said the preliminary opening gives scouts a chance to plan their schedules for the upcoming year.

The technology might be 30-years-old, but self-driving cars are still in their infancy, according to Carnegie Mellon University Professor Raj Rajkumar.

CMU’s College of Engineering last week threw a birthday bash for the self-driving car, which was “born” on campus in 1984.

“It was a moment to enjoy,” Rajkumar said.

Allegheny County has followed in the City of Pittsburgh’s footsteps and will no longer include a question about prior criminal convictions on its job applications starting in January.

County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said the policy increases the number of available applicants to fill county positions and gives those with prior convictions a fair shot at an interview.

Local business owners have high hopes heading into Small Business Saturday.

Across Pittsburgh, hundreds of locally owned restaurants and retailers are offering specials, events and giveaways the day after Black Friday to drive up sales as part of a movement launched by American Express in 2010 to get holiday shoppers out of the malls and into the mom and pop shops.

Audrey Guskey, an associate professor of marketing at Duquesne University, said the movement has gotten a lot of attention so far this year.

To spur small business growth, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto announced Tuesday that his proposed 2015 budget will include a sharp increase in spending for storefront and streetface renovation, as well as business district support grants.

Renovation funds are proposed to jump from $75,000 to $360,000. Storefront renovation funds are matching grants of up to $5,000 used by businesses to improve aesthetics, while the streetface program provides businesses with $35,000 in forgivable loans in an attempt to revitalize struggling business districts.

The National Science Foundation has awarded $9.65 million to the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center Monday to create a user-friendly supercomputer called “Bridges.”

Unlike other systems that require users to login, punch in commands using specialized computing skills and wait a few days for the results, Bridges allows scientists and researchers to access the database online through a series of portals, which Nick Nystrom, director of strategic applications at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, said leads to a more fluid experience.

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.

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.

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.  

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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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