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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

Pennsylvania ranks 19th in number of public electric car charging stations with 270 outlets—make that 274.

The Mall at Robinson Thursday unveiled four new car charging stations powered by solar panels mounted above the mall’s food court entrance.

Mall General Manager Beth Edwards said the stations take about 2 hours to fully charge an empty battery. That’s six times faster than the average at-home charge.

The solar panels are “actually offsetting the eight kilowatts that are needed for four full charges of the station,” Edwards said.

Workers with an Associate’s degree or less make up more than half of the total healthcare workforce in the U.S., according to a report released today by the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, and those numbers are expected to climb.

Health professionals, lawyers and U.S. senators met in Washington Tuesday to explore the challenges faced by coal miners suffering from black lung disease.

The U.S. Department of Labor will look to hire two administrative law judges and bring back a retired judge in Pittsburgh in 2015 to handle growing black lung claims, according to Deputy Labor Secretary Chris Lu.

About 400,000 coronary artery bypass graft surgeries are performed in the U.S. each year, and roughly one in five patients goes on to experience clinical depression. But all that could change because of a telephone.

According to University of Pittsburgh researchers, monitoring patient depression and administering a nurse-led intervention via a phone call bi-weekly not only improves quality of life and mood, but it’s also cost-effective and cost-saving.

Pittsburgh has been ranked one of the nation’s most walkable cities for years, but a new study suggests if the city wants to attract young talent, it needs to be even more walkable.

According to a report released by the Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis at George Washington University, Pittsburgh is a city of “moderate walkable urbanism,” meaning more than 70 percent of walkable urban office and retail space is located in the central city.

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