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

To kick off its 20th anniversary celebration as the National Aviary on Pittsburgh’s North Side, the facility is opening a new permanent exhibit Friday entitled “Canary’s Call.”

The display showcases four signature bird species including the rainbow lorikeet, Guam rail, rhinoceros hornbill and the canary, as well as one of the world’s largest fruit bats, the 2.5 pound Malayan flying fox.

According to Patricia O’Neill, director of education at the National Aviary, “Canary’s Call” shows how birds can be indicators of environmental change.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and County Councilman Bill Robinson (D-Hill District) are butting heads over access to proposals from energy companies to drill underneath Deer Lakes Park.

Robinson sent a letter to Fitzgerald asking that he make proposals submitted to the county last week public. Fitzgerald believes negotiations need to be conducted privately, and opening the discussion to the 15-member council could muddle the project’s success.

Pennsylvania’s preterm birth rate dropped from 11% to 10.8%, earning another “B” on the March of Dimes Foundation’s annual report card.

The state also earned a gold star for bringing late preterm births, babies born between 34 and 37 weeks, down to 7.4% and reducing the percentage of uninsured woman of child-bearing age and the number of female smokers.

But this isn’t something to run home and hang on the fridge.

Marvin Moriarty/US Fish and Wildlife Service

The cave-dwelling bat population in Pennsylvania is continuing its free-fall, according to the state Game Commission, which trapped only 10 bats at Long Run Mine earlier this month as part of a population study.

The survey assessed 10 caves across the state and the low returns lead endangered mammal specialists like Greg Turner to believe 98 percent of all cave bats are dead.

Long Run Mine, which runs along of the border of Butler and Armstrong counties, was once the largest bat cave in the state. But Turner said that’s not the case anymore.

Michael Lynch / 90.5 WESA

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) is calling on Congress to prevent the latest round of sequester cuts that could impede medical research.

A bipartisan conference committee, created in the agreement to end the government shutdown, has until December to decide whether to keep or reduce cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Last year the Pittsburgh region received 1,132 NIH awards totaling more than $503 million. As a whole, Pennsylvania was given 3,369 grants worth more than $1.4 billion.

The commonwealth ranked fourth in federal research funding in 2012.

A local computing, communications and data-handling company has landed a 4-year $7.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a system capable of storing and computing enormous amounts of data.

Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, a University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University project, is using the funding to develop a Data Exacell (DXC) prototype.

DXC will update the center’s current “Big Data” handling system called Data Supercell, which is able to hold about 4.2 million gigabytes of information.

Pennsylvania’s Somerset County isn’t exactly the African Savanna, but as many as 20 elephants could be calling it home in the next few years.

The International Conservation Center broke ground Saturday on a 1-acre elephant cow and calf barn, to add to the 724-acre facility.

Pittsburgh Zoo CEO Barbara Baker said the barn will focus on elephant breeding to try and combat the declining population.

Steel workers and green industry representatives met today to discuss the future of sustainable resources in the United States.

The panel discussed ways of getting a younger generation of energy leaders and producers, as well as the federal government, more committed to developing a clean economy.

Some believe dependable Production Tax Credits (PTC) could be the answer.

Companies that produce wind, geothermal and other types of renewable energy are eligible for a PTC, which provides a 2.2-cent per kilowatt-hour benefit for the first ten years of operation.

Michelle Madoff-Scheske,  former Pittsburgh councilwoman and co-founder of the Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP), died of leukemia on Saturday at Banner Health Hospice in Peoria, Ariz. She was 85.

Born in Toronto, Madoff moved to the United States in 1952 and settled in Squirrel Hill in 1961.

Disgusted by Pittsburgh’s poor air quality in the 1960s and '70s, she organized a group of neighbors in 1969 and created GASP.

Walter Goldburg, a personal friend and original GASP board member, said he was hesitant about joining the newly formed organization.

Nearly one in 10 high school students reported being physically injured by their significant other in 2012.

That’s according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it’s something Pittsburgh’s Prime Stage Theatre wants to end.

The educational theater group is bringing its touring Teen Dating Awareness Program to CCAC’s Boyce Campus Tuesday as part of the YWCA’s Week Without Violence.

Started nearly 20 years ago, the week-long effort looks to educate the community on the dangers of violence through a series of education programs.

Pennsylvania Sen. Matt Smith (D-Allegheny) is urging the commonwealth’s State Department to stop airing its voter ID advertisements.

The ads, which began running earlier this week, say voters will be asked, but not required, to show a photo ID at the polls, but Smith said the commercials are almost identical to the original ads that say photo ID is a requirement.

Smith calls the ads “confusing” and “misleading” because they give the impression that identification will be mandatory for the November municipal elections.

Flickr user HerrVebah

The Port Authority (PAT) is planning to limit the number of buses and bus stops in downtown Pittsburgh.

PAT hopes to reduce sidewalk traffic by shifting routes onto wider streets that outline Pittsburgh’s downtown.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald supports the plan, saying the new routes will cut down sidewalk obstruction on some of the area’s narrower streets.

“Taking buses off of certain streets,” he said, “away from certain corners, will alleviate some of that congestion, some of that traffic and some of the blockage of walking on the sidewalks.”

The Pittsburgh Foundation was taking donations for local nonprofit organizations Thursday down to the last second — literally.

More than $5.8 million was donated to about 700 nonprofits as part of the Day of Giving, down roughly 18 percent from last year.

The annual event, now in its fifth year, tries to highlight the region’s charitable initiatives.

Move over August Wilson, there’s a new playwright in town — actually, there are six.

Western Pennsylvania middle and high school students will see their work come to life on stage this weekend as part of 14th annual Young Playwrights Festival.

City Theatre receives more than 200 scripts a year from aspiring playwrights, and a literary committee whittles that number down to three middle school plays and three high school plays.

Now that October is here, most kids are thinking about carving pumpkins and picking out the perfect Halloween costume, but groups like Olweus and PACER are focusing their attention on bullying.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and the theme is “The End of Bullying Begins with Me.”

Twenty-five percent of kids are bullied in the U.S., according to the Ambassadors 4 Kids Club, and 77 percent of students are bullied mentally, verbally and physically.

Head and neck cancers account for 3 to 5 percent of all cancer in the United States, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, which means proving the efficacy of a robotic detection technique could have a big impact on public health.

A University of Pittsburgh study shows using robotics to identify neck tumors can improve individualized treatment and increase survival rates.

Experts are saying healthy amounts of rain and fair temperatures throughout Pennsylvania this year should bring a dazzling display of fall foliage.

Leaves in the southwestern region of the commonwealth are expected to reach their fullest color between mid- and late-October.

Doug Langford, a forester with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said people living in a more urban environment should take a trip to the countryside if they want to have a true fall experience.

National parks across the country are asking people to move off the couch and get some dirt underneath their fingernails on Saturday in celebration of National Public Lands Day.

The holiday, now in its 20th year, is the largest volunteer initiative for national parks. In 2012, nearly 175,000 people volunteered at 2,206 sites in every state and several U.S. territories.

Since its inception, workers have cleared about 500 tons of trash from trails and planted an estimated 100,000 trees and shrubs.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) is co-sponsoring a bill to help more than 4,000 retired Pennsylvania veterans keep their health care plans.

On Oct. 1, a new policy from the Department of Defense will force some retired veterans off of TRICARE Prime, the most affordable option in the Military Health System for people under 65.

According to the new policy, only veterans living within 100 miles of a Military Treatment Facility or a BRAC site will be able to stay on TRICARE Prime. Now, more than 171,000 people nationally are at risk of losing the military health care.

Residents from Pittsburgh will gather in Market Square downtown Saturday, joining counterparts in 200 other U.S. cities and 64 countries in marking the United Nation's Day of Peace .  

The grassroots international organization Global March for Peace and Unity is coordinating the campaign to spread the word the word on world peace.

“If we could possibly have one day without violence, perhaps that would give hope for two days or three days or hopefully, at some point, have a world without violence,”  said Pittsburgh North People for Peace Chairperson Mary Sheehan.

Emerald View Park has a new trail.

Unveiled Sunday by The Washington Community Development Corporation (MWCDC), the trail connects Sycamore Street to Bigbee Field where it joins other trails leading to Grandview Park.

Ilyssa Manspeizer, director of park development and conservation with the MWCDC, said the trails add another dimension to the city.

Twenty-three trade representatives from 23 countries including Australia, Brazil and China are in Pittsburgh on Monday as the 12th annual Pennsylvania International Week made its stop in the city.

The touring business conference is at Two Chatham Center and will move to Heinz Field Tuesday morning.

Peter O’Neill, executive director for the state Center of Trade Development, said this month is the best time to make new business connections.

Michael Lynch / 90.5 WESA

Shawnda Little-Dreher and Timothy Dreher were handed the keys to their new McKeesport residence Friday, becoming the 74th local family to receive a home through Habitat for Humanity.

“It’s blessing and we are very excited,” Shawnda said. “We’ve been waiting for a long time.”

In 2003, the first prototype G.I. Joe action figure sold on eBay for $200,000 and is listed as one of the most valuable toys in the world.

Starting Thursday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel just south of Mt. Lebanon, experts from the FX Vintage Toy Roadshow will be on-hand to appraise and buy vintage toys for the next four days.

Roadshow General Manager Mark Leinberger said he’s looking for everything from Shirley Temple dolls to Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots.

The Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa. will honor the 40 crash victims of United Flight 93 on the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Events begin 3 p.m. Tuesday as crews break ground on a visitor center. The 6,800 square-foot facility will try to tell the full story of Flight 93 and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. The building is expected to be completed September 2015. The Flight 93 National Memorial Capital Campaign announced it raised $40 million dollars to complete the national memorial.

Enrollment at the Community College of Allegheny County is down 7.79 percent, but it might not be all bad.

As of this week, 17,641 students were enrolled for the college’s fall semester, compared to 19,131 students last September.

The college points to two reasons for the declining enrollment: the recession and high school graduation rates.

During hard economic times, many workers look to change careers and enroll in community colleges to fill an educational void, causing a spike in student enrollment.

Two months into the new fiscal year, Pennsylvania’s revenue collections seem to be lagging just a little behind, with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue’s General Fund bringing in $3.7 billion— 0.1 percent below estimate.

In August, corporation tax, inheritance tax and realty transfer tax all fell below the state’s projections. Only sales, cigarette, alcohol and table game tax revenues were above estimates.

Conservation and preservation is the theme of a new exhibition at the University of Pittsburgh’s Art Gallery.

The gallery was chosen by Heritage Preservation to take part in the 2013 Conservation Assessment Program. In June, a professional paper conservator spent two days examining the layout of the gallery as well as the site’s policies, procedures and environmental conditions.

An initial report points to issues in lighting, shelving and storage that could harm artwork over time.

To kick off its 75th season, the Pittsburgh Opera is looking for “super” men — minus the red cape … and the shirt.

The opera is holding open auditions to find approximately 60 male supernumeraries, or extras, for non-singing parts in Giuseppe Verdi’s “Aida.”

The extras will play priests and slaves marching after an Egyptian victory over invading Ethiopians as part of the opera’s famous Triumphal Scene.

While some “supers” will be dressed in robes, many will have to bare their chests as Egyptian soldiers.

A previously unknown silkscreen believed to be printed by Andy Warhol will go up for auction on Monday at Col. Kirk’s Auction Gallery in Columbia County.

The piece, entitled “Of Thee I Sing—Nico,” isn’t signed by the pop art icon, but auction gallery General Manager Josh Williams said the silkscreen can be identified as an original Warhol because of the unique paper it was printed on.

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