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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Transportation
10:36 am
Wed February 5, 2014

Ice Storm Causes Chaos For Pittsburgh Commuters

Icicles form on a parked car in Oakland.
Credit Michael Lynch / 90.5 WESA

Update: 11:35 a.m.

The Port Authority of Allegheny County is reporting that as of 11:30 a.m. light rail service has been restored to all lines. Riders should still anticipate 10 to 15 minute delays as the Port Authority works to restore its regular schedule.

Bus shuttles that have been providing service for Blue Line-Library riders will end at noon. 

Update: 11:11 a.m.

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Education
4:57 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

PA Receives 'C-' In Teacher Effectiveness Policies

A “C-” typically isn’t a grade you’d run home to put on the fridge, but Pennsylvania is doing just that.

The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) Thursday released its seventh annual report on teacher effectiveness policies, and Pennsylvania made the jump from a “D+” to a “C-.”

The “State Teacher Policy Yearbook” measures effectiveness in delivering well-prepared teachers; expanding the teacher pool; identifying effective teachers; retaining effective teachers; and dismissing ineffective teachers.

The average grade across all 50 states is a “C-.”

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Arts & Culture
5:37 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

'Congregation' To Light Up Market Square

Pittsburgh’s Market Square is going to get brighter with the help of an interactive light, video and sound art installation.

The piece, entitled “Congregation,” will be in the city Feb. 21–March 16 and is part of the Market Square Public Art Program.

Created by Kit Monkman and Tom Wexler, the installation will be played on a 50 ft. projection screen and will run on a 25-minute loop. Lights will shine on the Market Square courtyard and visitors will be able to interact and manipulate the show simply by walking through it.

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Coal-Fired Plants
2:37 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Coal Alliance Calls For Hearing On Energy Issues

In response to frigid temperatures and increases in energy costs, the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance is calling for a hearing to examine recent power supply problems.

The alliance points to the closing of three Pennsylvania coal-fired power plants on Oct. 9, including the Mitchell plant in Courtney and the Hatfield Ferry plant in Masontown, as a potential reason for the state’s sudden energy issues.

PA Coal Alliance CEO John Pippy said the lack of coal energy has strained available electricity.

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Health
1:59 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Home Health and Hospice Forum to Meet in March

Two Pennsylvania health care organizations are coming together to establish the Home Health and Hospice Forum.

The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) and the Pennsylvania Homecare Association (PHA) are reaching out to independent healthcare providers by holding an open forum to address issues and concerns about the impact of reform on the home health industry.

PHA spokeswoman Jennifer Haggerty said issues such as care transitions, chronic care management and consumer and family-focused care will be addressed.

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Pennsylvania
2:21 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

Winter Slushes Along, But Do We Have Enough Salt?

Temperatures are expected to plummet from now until Thursday with light snow showers scattered throughout the region, and some are worried the salt supplies won’t last.

Despite rumors of a potential salt shortage, city and state officials say they’re doing everything they can to keep the roads clear.

PennDOT spokesman Steve Cowan said the state is ordering more salt to keep up with the high demand.

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Community
3:30 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Can The Steel City Be Sustainable?

It’s no secret that Pittsburgh’s made a comeback.

What was once one of the most polluted and economically strained cities in the country, now ranks 4th in number of green buildings and 5th in average annual pay compared to the 14 other benchmark regions, according to the analytical organization Pittsburgh Today.

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Higher Education
12:26 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Legislation Could Shrink Penn State's Board of Trustees

Penn State’s Board of Trustees came under fire as a result of the Jerry Sandusky scandal two years ago.

Now, State Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne) introduced legislation Friday that would shrink the size of board from 30 voting members to 23.

Under the new bill, the board would be made up of 8 elected alumni, five gubernatorial appointees, five members from the agriculture industry and five members from the business industry. The legislation would also prohibit the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and all state row officers from being on the board.

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Community
5:20 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Sen. Casey Says He Won't Give Up Fighting For 911th Airlift Wing

Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) says he won’t give up his fight to save Moon Township’s 911th Airlift Wing.

On Thursday, the senator said he would release a letter to the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force rallying for the Airlift Wing to remain open.

Casey argues the base is valuable in terms of economics and national security.

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City Revitalization
3:30 am
Mon January 20, 2014

Legislation To Expand City Revitalization Program

Lancaster and Bethlehem were chosen to take part in Pennsylvania’s City Revitalization and Improvement Zone (CRIZ) program this year, but some state lawmakers feel like their cities are missing out.

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Environment & Energy
11:02 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Downtown Government Building Rated High By Energy Star

What was once one of the most polluted cities in the nation now has 49 Energy Star certified commercial facilities. 

It was announced Thursday that the City-County Building in downtown Pittsburgh has earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star rating, meaning the building performs in the top 25 percent of similar facilities in terms of energy efficiency nationwide.

County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said sustainability is something Allegheny County has been focused on for some time.

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Arts & Culture
12:53 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Fire and Ice Festival to Bring Old West to Somerset

Round up the cattle and put on your finest 10-gallon hat because this year’s Fire and Ice Festival will take you to the American frontier.

“Wild, Wild West,” the 19th annual winter festival, will be held Jan. 17-19 in Uptown Somerset and Stephanie Williams, executive director of Somerset Inc., said this year is going to be unlike any other.

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Arts & Culture
12:46 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Celebrating Black History Month Through 12 Oral Histories

Photos of featured oral historians included in the exhibit.
Credit Courtesy PNC

Oral histories from some of the region’s most prominent African Americans will be a featured part of Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Pittsburgh.

As part of PNC’s Legacy Project, the oral histories will be displayed at 600 Liberty Ave. and are available online.

The exhibit features the oral histories of 12 African Americans, including musicians Sean Jones and Patricia Prattis Jennings, community leaders Alma Speed Fox and Esther L. Bush, and Tony Award winning actor Billy Porter.

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Community
3:30 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Pittsburgh Declares Stephen Foster Day

Music aficionados and historical scholars will gather Monday to commemorate the life of songwriter Stephen Foster, 150 years after the local songwriter’s death.

The city of Pittsburgh will officially proclaim it to be Stephen Foster Day.

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Health
3:30 am
Sun January 12, 2014

Experts Say PA Senior Care Needs Improvements

With more than 2 million citizens 65 or older, Pennsylvania has the fourth oldest population in the United States, and experts say they aren’t getting the care they need.

Advocates and senior citizen care professionals met to discuss the safety of the state’s elderly with a Pennsylvania Senate committee. Drawing up a four-year aging plan for the state, the meetings emphasis was on senior abuse.

Self-neglect and caregiver neglect make up about 65 percent of all reported abuse cases in the state, but the majority of cases go unreported, according to the panel.

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Pennsylvania
12:15 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Allegheny Ice Jam to Break Free

The subzero temperatures this week brought not only frostbitten fingers and high heating bills, but a major ice jam along the Allegheny River.

Now, another shift in weather is expected to send the blockage downstream.

The quarter mile long buildup is thought to be 5-to-6-feet high and is located just upriver from New Kensington’s Ninth Street Bridge.

The National Weather Service is predicting mild rainfall this weekend and temperatures are expected to exceed 50 degrees.

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Education
5:08 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

PSEA Releases 20 Ways to Improve Public Education

During the 2010-11 school year, Pennsylvania ranked 47th in the U.S. in terms of state funding for public education.

Releasing a report that outlines 20 ways to improve public schooling, the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) is trying to get the state to the top of its class.

The 104-page report suggests: ensuring students’ access to arts education, extracurricular activities and school safety; focusing on districts with high poverty levels; providing tutoring programs for struggling students; and reducing the high school dropout rate.

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Pennsylvania
11:54 am
Wed January 1, 2014

PA Natural Gas Advisory Committee Scheduled To Meet Again

Pennsylvania’s Natural Gas Advisory Committee (NGAC) is supposed to discuss the role of state forest land in energy production — it just hasn’t done it yet.

The commonwealth has already leased about 385,400 acres of forest land for natural gas extraction, according to a report released by the DCNR in October.

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Higher Education
3:00 am
Mon December 30, 2013

PA Ranks High On Student Debt Scale

With annual tuition ranging from $12,000 a year for a four-year public college to as much as $45,000 for a private college, more Pennsylvania students are leaving with more than a diploma — rising debt.

The cost of a four-year public college education in Pennsylvania costs a little more than $12,000, but some students are facing more than $36,000 in debt at graduation.

The state now ranks fourth in the percentage of college graduates with loan debt and third in the average amount of debt per student, according to a survey by the Institute for College Access and Success.

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Community
3:30 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

114th Christmas Bird Count Set for Saturday

Get your binoculars ready, because the 114th annual Christmas bird count is set for Dec. 28 in Pittsburgh.

Before 1900, the Christmas “Side Hunt” was a popular American tradition where participants competed to see who could shoot and kill the most fowl. In opposition to the practice, ornithologist Frank Chapman created the Christmas Bird Census.

In its first year, 27 bird watchers from cities such as Toronto and Pacific Grove, California tallied about 90 bird species.

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Community
3:30 am
Mon December 16, 2013

United Way Looking For Tax Preparation Volunteers

The United Way of Allegheny County is looking for more than 200 volunteers for this year’s Free Tax Preparation Campaign.

Last year, 149 volunteers helped prepare more than 5,800 tax returns for low-income families and individuals, getting $10 million in refunds.

Angela Reynolds, director of programs for financially struggling adults and families for the United, said no prior tax experience is necessary to volunteer.

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Community
3:30 am
Thu December 12, 2013

Candlelight Vigil To Be Held At Heinz Chapel in Remembrance of Newtown Shooting

A national nonprofit is organizing candlelight vigils across the country, including one in Pittsburgh, to honor the 20 children who lost their lives last year in Newtown, Conn.

On Saturday, Organizing for Action will host “Remembering Newtown—A Candlelight Vigil” at Heinz Chapel on the University of Pittsburgh Campus at 6:30 p.m.

Since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, nearly 200 children under the age of 12 have been killed in gun accidents, homicides or suicides, according to the nonprofit news organization Mother Jones.

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Community
4:52 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Across PA, Salvation Army's Red Kettles Need More Green

The Salvation Army Western Pennsylvania Division’s Red Christmas Kettle Campaign is trailing last year’s numbers by more than $312,000.

Thirty-five of the Salvation Army’s 39 divisional facilities are falling short of their goals, including those in Braddock, Homewood and Pittsburgh’s Northside.

The Salvation Army has a goal of raising $687,500 this holiday season in Allegheny County and more than $2.7 million in Western Pennsylvania. But with two weeks before Christmas, that might not happen.

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Community
4:41 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

PAT Hosts 10th Annual Toy Drive

Snow is falling, trees are donned with lights and Pittsburgh’s Steel Plaza T Station is filled with toys.

It’s that time of year again.

The Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAT) and the U.S. Marine Corps are hosting the 10th annual Toys for Tots drive Friday.

PAT is looking for new, unwrapped toys as well as cash donations. Everyone who donates will receive a free cup of coffee from the station’s Crazy Mocha kiosk.

PAT spokeswoman Heather Pharo encourages everyone to come to the plaza and give what they can.

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Community
3:26 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Pittsburgh Foundation Accepting Donations For Local Food Banks

Blame it on the weather, the government or the economy, but demand for food assistance programs is increasing fast, according to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

The local charity, which serves more than 110,000 people a year, saw a 40 percent increase in food demand compared to last November, and the Westmoreland County Food Bank saw a 13 percent increase.

That’s despite Pittsburgh’s unemployment rate falling from 7.3 percent to 6.7 percent over the last 12 months.

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