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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Government & Politics
2:51 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

April Is Limb Loss Awareness Month

Claire Matzie was born without her right hand and has since lost the majority of that arm. She’s gone through three different prosthetic limbs since she her birth 12 years ago, but decided to stop wearing them in 2011.

She said they got in the way.

“[She’s] my inspiration; the love of my life,” Claire’s father, state Rep. Rob Matzie (D-Beaver/Allegheny), said before the Pennsylvania House of Representatives last week.

The House unanimously approved a resolution proposed by Matzie that designates April 2014 as “Limb Loss Awareness Month.”

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Revenue Shortfall
1:00 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

Pennsylvania Tax And Revenue Collections Continue To Fall Short

Three months until the end of the 2013-14 fiscal year, Pennsylvania’s revenue collections are 0.5  percent short of estimates.

The Department of Revenue reports  through the first nine months of FY 13-14 it has collected  $20.5 billion — $96.3 million behind approximations — but spokeswoman Elizabeth Brassell said that number “disguises the fiscal reality.”

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Public Safety
8:15 am
Tue April 1, 2014

Gun Forum Calls for Owner Responsibility and Government Involvement

The League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh (LWVGP) has released the results of a study of gun violence in the region and the results are wide ranging and at times a bit confusing.

The League held a forum in October involving 150 participants from different backgrounds, and spent the past months reviewing the findings.

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Science & Technology
3:30 am
Mon March 31, 2014

This CMU-Built, Trash-Talking Robot Wants To Beat You At Scrabble

Victor, created by a research professor at Carnegie Mellon University, is the latest in a series of social robots designed to study human-robot interaction.
Credit Courtesy Carnegie Mellon University

Victor sits in the lounge of Carnegie Mellon University’s computer science building ready to take on anyone in a game of Scrabble.

He’s cocky, and his taunts can be heard across the room.

“Is that all you’ve got?” he shouts from behind his virtual Scrabble board.

Victor has an attitude not atypical of a 17-year-old college freshman. But here's the thing: He’s a robot.

Created by Reid Simmons, a research professor at CMU’s Robotics Institute, Victor is the latest in a series of social robots designed as a tool to study human-robot interaction.

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Autism Awareness
3:21 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Cathedral Of Learning To Shine Blue For Autism Awareness

If you’re traveling around Pittsburgh next Wednesday, you might be seeing blue, as more than a dozen buildings across the city are shining a light on autism, including the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning.

The cathedral is one of more than 8,400 buildings and landmarks around the world are participating in this year’s “Light It Up Blue” campaign to raise autism awareness, including Pittsburgh’s Gulf Tower, BNY Melon Building, and the Carnegie Science Center.

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Health
2:17 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

Can Texting Lead To Better Concussion Treatments?

Text messaging can serve a variety of purposes, from casually chatting with friends to ordering a pizza, but what about monitoring concussion symptoms?

Some, like researcher Stephanie Huang think it could be a tool for providing more personalized health care.

Thanks to a grant from the Pittsburgh Emergency Medicine Foundation, the first-year student from Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School is coming to Pittsburgh to see if texting is a more effective way of getting patients to monitor their own concussion treatments.

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Government & Politics
3:30 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Senate Makes No Decision On PA Adoption Bill

Two groups that are often in opposition are now working together to kill a bill making its way through the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference are butting heads with legislators over House Bill 162, which would give adopted adults access to their original birth certificates, including the names of their birth parents.

For the ACLU and the Catholic Conference, it’s an issue of privacy, but for Sens. LeAnna Washington (D-Philadelphia) and Judy Schwank (D-Berks) it’s a matter of civil rights.

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Government & Politics
3:06 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Legislation Could Raise PA Minimum Wage to $10.10 Per Hour

A Pennsylvania lawmaker is pushing for legislation that would increase the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour over the next two years.

Under Senate Bill 1300, the minimum wage would jump to $8.20 an hour beginning July 1, 2014. On Jan. 1, 2015, wages would increase again to $9.50 an hour and then $10.10 an hour one year later.

The bill’s sponsor, State Sen. Tina Tartaglione (D-Philadelphia), said after that, it will be up to local governments to set the wage.

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Health
10:36 am
Tue March 18, 2014

Researchers Conclude That For Sepsis Treatment, It's Not How Agressive, It's How Soon

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have concluded that a standardized approach to diagnosing and treating sepsis in its early stages does not affect survival rates.

The five-year, $8.4 million study examined 1,351 patients with septic shock in 31 hospitals across the U.S. and found no difference in treatment effectiveness.

Dr. Donald Yealy, chair of Pitt’s Department of Emergency Medicine, was one of the lead researchers in the study. He said it doesn’t matter what type of treatment a patient receives, as long as it’s early.

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Health
3:30 am
Mon March 17, 2014

'Project 22' Releases Official Trailer

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs released a report last year stating that an estimated 22 veterans commit suicide every day.

That number hit home for Marine Sgt. Daniel Egbert and Army Sgt. Matt King; both of whom served in Iraq. The two set out on a 22-day road trip from Los Angeles to Ground Zero in New York, producing a documentary focused on raising awareness about veteran suicide.

That documentary is "Project 22."

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Culture
12:14 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Parade To Pack Downtown Pittsburgh This Weekend

Pittsburgh’s colors may be black and gold, but they’ll soon be replaced by green and gold, as one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the country prepares to take the streets.

Starting Saturday at 10 a.m., more than 23,000 participants, including some Olympic athletes, will march downtown along Grant Street and The Boulevard of the Allies.

Joining in the festivities this year are four-time Olympian and three-time medalist Lauryn Williams and gold medal-winning Irish Olympian Michael Carruth.

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Education
2:41 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

CCAC To Offer Early Retirement Incentives, Close Child Care Centers

Community College of Allegheny County trustees unanimously approved a proposal on Thursday that would help chip away at the school’s $3 million deficit.

CCAC will offer early retirement incentives and close its four childcare centers in an effort to cut costs.

CCAC spokeswoman Elizabeth Johnston said it’s unknown how many employees will take the early retirement option, but several hundred could be eligible.

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Health
3:30 am
Mon March 3, 2014

Study Shows Teen Stress Levels Higher Than Adults

Being a teenager is stressful — that’s no secret. But according to a report released this month by the American Psychological Association, U.S. teens are even more stressed out than their parents.

During the school year, teens report stress levels that exceed what they believe to be healthy. On a 10-point scale, teens experience a stress level of about 5.8, while adults said their levels sit at 5.1.

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Health
3:30 am
Mon March 3, 2014

Pittsburgh United Releases Report On UPMC Wages

Representatives of several organizations are set to gather outside of UPMC headquarters today to lobby in support of wage increases—and they might have some economic ammunition.

According to a report by the activist organization Pittsburgh United, raising wages to $15 an hour for UPMC service workers could benefit the region’s economy.

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Government & Politics
4:41 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Casey Pushing For Drug Abuse Legislation

Saying Pennsylvania is in a prescription and drug abuse crisis, Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) is pushing for legislation to study and fight opioid abuse.

The Prescription Drug Abuse Act would include training for practitioners, state grants for drug abuse education, and the creation of a national registry to track opioid related deaths.

Pennsylvania has the third highest rate of heroin abuse in the U.S. and ranks 14th in drug overdose mortality, according to state Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

Casey said the state’s drug abuse problem is too large to ignore.

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Government & Politics
12:29 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

County Councilman Asks For $15 Million For August Wilson Center

Allegheny County Councilman Bill Robinson (D-Hill District) is asking for $10 million to $15 million in capital funds from the city and county to bail out the financially strapped August Wilson Center for African American Culture.

About $7 million would be used to pay off the center’s unpaid bills, including its mortgage, and keep the facility, which is facing liquidation. The legislation was introduced in County Council by Robinson who did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

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Public Safety
10:27 am
Thu February 20, 2014

League of Women Voters To Host Gun Safety Forum

The League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh (LWVGP) wants to talk about guns--not just ballot boxes.

The citizens' organization is holding its second Gun Safety in a Free Society event on Wednesday Feb. 26 at the Kingsley Center on Frankstown Ave.

Best known for its candidates' forums and election guides for voters, the League will address issues such as gun safety, teenage gun violence, and how to keep guns out of the wrong hands in Allegheny County.

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Transportation
12:56 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

Pittsburgh Continues to Struggle with Salt Supply

The city of Pittsburgh could see as much as 4 inches of snow Monday night, according to the National Weather Service, and city officials are worried salt supplies won’t keep up.

The city is expected to receive a 500-ton shipment of rock salt Monday and Tuesday from its supplier, American Rock Salt. This morning, the city had less than 100 tons of salt.

Chief Operations Officer Guy Costa said the city uses between 800 and 1,000 tons of rock salt for every inch of snow on the roads.

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Government & Politics
3:30 am
Mon February 17, 2014

Civil Rights Group Holds Hearing On Voter Issues

As primary elections draw near, the National Commission on Voting Rights has been holding a series of hearings across the country to address issues such as voter registration, voting discrimination and ballot accessibility for those with disabilities.

Voters and voting rights activists gathered in Philadelphia last week to share their experiences and the challenges they face when going to the polls.

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Arts & Culture
8:17 am
Fri February 14, 2014

Pittsburgh Zoo, Department of Agriculture Reach Settlement

The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium has agreed to pay $4,550 to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, ending the agency's investigation into the death of a child who was fatally mauled after falling into the wild African Painted dog exhibit.

Barbara Baker, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Zoo, said it’s the right time to take the next step.

“Safety is always our top priority,” she said in a written statement. “All of our exhibits meet the highest USDA and AZA standards and we will continue to work with both agencies to ensure those standards are met and exceeded.”

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Public Safety
9:19 am
Thu February 13, 2014

Up to 3,000 Gallons of Crude Oil Spilled in Vandergrift Derailment

Officials say as much as 3,000 gallons of crude oil were spilled following this morning’s train derailment in Vandergrift, but all of it was contained in a parking lot.
Credit Reid Frazier / The Allegheny Front

Update: 6:09 p.m.

Authorities say a freight train derailment in western Pennsylvania spilled several thousand gallons of crude oil, but all of it went onto a parking lot.

Westmoreland County public safety officials say the derailment of 21 cars was reported shortly before 8 a.m. Thursday on a Norfolk Southern rail line between Vandergrift and East Vandergrift.

Spokesman Dan Stevens says 19 cars carrying heavy crude and two cars contained liquid propane derailed, and about 2,000 to 3,000 gallons of crude spilled from one of the cars.

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Government & Politics
6:05 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Taxi Operators Push for Legal Challenge to Ride-Sharing Service Lyft

Ride-sharing Lyft cars have been on Pittsburgh streets for less than a week. You might have seen them—they’re the ones with the bright pink mustaches.

Now, those behind the city’s largest transportation companies are reaching out to Mayor Bill Peduto to crack down on what they say amounts to an illegal taxi service.

James Campolongo, president and CEO of Pittsburgh Transportation Group, which owns Yellow Cab, partnered with the head of Star Transportation Group, Robert Delucia, in writing a letter to Peduto asking him to pass an ordinance to crack down on Lyft.

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Education
3:30 am
Mon February 10, 2014

PHEAA Hosts Free FAFSA Completion Sessions Across The State

One of the biggest challenges for students — besides getting into college — is how to apply for financial aid.

The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) is helping students and parents by offering free FAFSA completion sessions throughout the state.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is used to determine eligibility for need-based financial assistance, including the State Grant, Federal Pell Grant, work-study programs and scholarships.

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Education
2:59 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

Pittsburgh Nonprofits Land $375,000 For Digital Literacy

Thirteen nonprofits in the Pittsburgh region have been awarded a total of $375,000 in grants from the Comcast Foundation to fund after school programs.

“Primarily, these are programs that are designed to have a sustainable impact on the communities,” Comcast spokesman Bob Grove said.

The organization awarded a total of $591,000 to 30 nonprofits in the Keystone Region, which includes parts of Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

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Health
3:30 am
Fri February 7, 2014

National Wear Red Day to Raise Awareness for Women's Heart Health

Heart disease kills one woman every minute in the U.S., making it the number one killer of women in the nation.

That’s why the American Heart Association is asking everyone to take part in National Wear Red Day Friday to raise awareness for the 43 million women affected by heart disease.

Karen Colbert, a spokeswoman with the American Heart Association, said heart disease isn’t gender specific.

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Community
12:27 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Roethlisberger Foundation to Announce Eight K-9 Officer Grants

Pittsburgh police dog Rocco will be laid to rest Friday, and soon after the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation plans to announce eight grants for more K-9 officers.

The foundation’s mission is to support the dogs of police and fire departments throughout the U.S. with a particular emphasis on Pittsburgh.

Jessica Duffaut, relationship manager for the foundation, said the foundation realizes that you can never replace a dog, especially a police dog.

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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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