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

The Allegheny County District Attorney called for an increase in the use of video cameras in law enforcement Monday.

Stephen Zappala said cameras add an extra level of objectivity to the police force.

Zappala said video cameras in police vehicles reduced legal complaints against police officers across the county by 90 percent.

“Every time that somebody sues a municipality on a one-on-one stop,” he said, “it costs us money as taxpayers. We refer to it legally as contingent liabilities … When you introduce objective evidence, that changes substantially.”

If police in the Whitaker Borough want a search warrant, they’ll need the approval of the Allegheny County district attorney’s office.

This decision comes in response to the 2012 arrest of Whitaker Borough police officer William Davis, who was charged in April with two counts of false swearing, unsworn falsification to authorities and official oppression, and one count of perjury for using a warrant to get access to a private residence.

District Attorney Stephen Zappala said the department will be under a microscope.

The largest mentoring program in Pittsburgh area is getting a little bit bigger.

The “Be a 6th Grade Mentor” program has become “Be a Middle School Mentor.”

Due to the program’s success in the last four years, the United Way of Allegheny County is expanding it to include children in grades six through eight.

Damon Bethea, mentoring projects director at the United Way, said the mentors asked for the program's expansion.

One Pittsburgh group is trying to bring a little more life to the downtown area during the winter months.

The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, in conjunction with the city of Pittsburgh, will begin a three-year project to bring temporary public art to the city’s Market Square.

Artists are being asked to submit proposals for existing works of art to be displayed in the public plaza, or submit their qualifications to create new works.

Homestead got another store Thursday, but it’s not number 74 at The Waterfront.

Bottom Dollar Food opened a new store on East 7th St. on the other side of the tracks. Borough officials are calling it an effort to revitalize the community.

When the U.S. Steel’s Homestead Works closed in 1986, the borough was in financial distress. The approximately 256 acres of abandoned steel mills sat unused until 1999 when developers first broke ground on The Waterfront, an outdoor shopping center housing more than 70 stores and restaurants.

Michael Lynch / 90.5 WESA

Water and oil might not mix — but what about water, music, colored lights and sports?

Station Square unveiled a new water fountain show Thursday that honors Pittsburgh’s rich sports history.

The nearly 11-minute show features hundreds of multi-colored jets choreographed to spray water 40 feet into the air.

With water dancing to the beat of songs like “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osborne and Queen’s “We are the Champions,” the performance incorporates sound clips of historic sports moments from the Steelers, Penguins and Pirates throughout the years.

State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) has been appointed to a four-year term on the Port Authority (PAT) of Allegheny County Board of Directors.

The former mayor of the City of McKeesport was chosen by Sen. Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) to be a representative from the Senate Democratic Caucus and is the first member under a new appointment process.

Brewster, a member of the Senate Transportation Committee, said the new board needs to be able to work together in order to solve the big problems.

How many people use the Pittsburgh region’s longest trail?

Volunteers will be counting the number of walkers and bikers along the Great Allegheny Passage Aug. 17.

The synchronized tallying, which is done at multiple locations several times a year, is a physical count of the number of people using the trail; are they walking or bike riding; and if they are going north or south.

When manual counts are taken, volunteers take down users’ zip codes to track the number of people visiting.

A New York City-based childhood education foundation is assessing summer learning programs across the country, including one in Pittsburgh.

The Wallace Foundation, a supporter of Pittsburgh Public Schools’ Summer Dreamers Academy, hired Rand Corp., a nonprofit research group, to see if summer education programs improve student learning.

Senior Research and Evaluation Officer Ann Stone said the foundation is looking for ways students can have academic gains that last.

Airport scanners identify the basics — shirts, shoes, a clear travel-sized bottle of shampoo — but what about your molecules?

University of Pittsburgh physicists have invented the world’s smallest terahertz detector that could soon scan molecules in a fashion similar to airport screenings.

Using terahertz radiation — a level of light far below what the human eye can notice — the detector might have the ability to chemically identify single molecules.

Jeremy Levy, a professor at Pitt’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, compared his work to a child’s toy.

The inbound Liberty Tunnel will close around-the-clock Wednesday at 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. Aug. 30.

To coincide with Bike Pittsburgh’s BikeFest, the Office of Public Art is hosting the Public Art Pedal along the North Side.

This 10-mile roundtrip bicycle outing will go from Pittsburgh’s North Shore to Millvale along the Allegheny Riverfront Trail.

Renee Piechocki, director of the Office of Public Art, said the scenery adds to the artistic experience of the tour.

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

Dennis and Marilyn Funtal inched their way along the Andy Warhol Bridge Monday morning, stopping with every step to admire the 580 hand-stitched afghan panels that currently envelop the structure.

“Quite unusual,” Dennis Funtal said, “just like the City of Pittsburgh’s always been — unusual.”

The retired Brookline couple made a point to venture downtown Monday to see what's been called the largest “yarn bomb” in the United States. “Yarn bombing” is a form of street art, which unlike graffiti can be easily removed and doesn’t damage public property.

The Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) has begun to review its policies on performance-enhancing drugs (PED) after several of its athletes were connected to a steroid scandal that led to the suspensions of 13 Major League Baseball players.

Now schools across the country could begin to follow suit.

The first Global Diversity Festival begins in Pittsburgh Friday night.

The festival looks to celebrate the “vibrancy” and diversity of the Pittsburgh region through music, food and entertainment.

About 30 community organizations, including Latino and LGBT groups, will be represented at the celebration to hand out information, crafts and food.

The festival was organized by the group Vibrant Pittsburgh, which looks to ensure the city’s growth by attracting a “diversity of talent” to promote the region.

The Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group (PennPIRG) released a report Thursday saying more than 5 million Pennsylvanians live near what the group calls a “high risk” chemical plant.

Representatives from the group gathered across from Union Station in downtown Pittsburgh to call on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop the use of toxic chemicals and impose stronger transportation safety requirements.

Mary Kate Ranii, a canvass director for PennPIRG, said government needs to do a better job of protecting the public from harmful chemicals.

With more people riding bikes in Pittsburgh, it seems only natural that the 9th annual BikeFest is longer than ever.

BikeFest, which begins Friday, is a fundraiser celebrating all things bicycling to create a more pedestrian and bicycle-friendly city.

Scott Bricker, executive director of Bike Pittsburgh, said a strong bicycle community will make the city more attractive to visitors.

The Perseid meteor showers have come and gone every year since 36 A.D., and this year’s summer spectacle is expected to be one for the ages.

According to NASA, the meteor shower will produce more bright lights and streaks than any other annual shower, earning it the name, “Fireball Champion.”

This year, the shower began July 17 and concludes Aug. 24.

While the skies are forecasted to be cloudy through Friday, this weekend is expected to be cloud free for optimum viewing, said Dan Malerbo, planetarium education coordinator at the Carnegie Science Center.

Every year, nearly half a million children 14 and younger visit the emergency room for traumatic brain injury in the United States.

Two Pittsburgh researchers have been selected by the National Institutes of Health to lead a $16.5 million study evaluating treatments for pediatric TBI.

The five-year international study is looking to provide evidence to standardize clinical practices and provide guidelines that would improve the lives of children with TBI.

The Department of Environmental Protection will continue to study air quality near gas wells in Washington County through the end of the year.

In 2012, the DEP began a long-term study to measure ambient air pollution in Chartiers and Hickory townships, where both “wet” and “dry” natural gas are being extracted and sold through compressor stations and pipeline networks.

DEP spokesman Kevin Sunday said while most of the attention has been on water contamination, the emphasis is beginning to shift towards drilling’s effect on air pollution.

The 44,000 motorists that travel Route 28 daily between Pittsburgh and Millvale can expect some additional congestion, as the fourth phase of a major reconstruction project begins Monday.

Traffic on northbound and southbound Route 28 will be shifted into new configurations between East Ohio Street and the 40th Street Bridge.

Kayakers and canoeists with disabilities soon will have better access to Pittsburgh’s rivers.

The Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation will be installing an “EZ Launch” system at the Point along with ADA-compliant restrooms and an accessible route to Pittsburgh’s downtown.

The launching area includes rollers that smoothly move boats in and out of the water, along with a transfer bench for wheelchair users. The dock will provide disabled boaters with a safe place to move from wheelchair, to bench, to boat and vice versa.

Pittsburgh researchers have found the joints of children with chronic inflammatory arthritis contain immune cells similar to those of 90-year-olds.

A new study suggests premature aging of immune cells are linked to children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).

The study, led by University of Pittsburgh professor of pediatrics and immunology Abbe de Vallejo, sampled immune cells called T-cells from 98 children with JIA.

The team found one-third of the T-cells in children had shortened “telomeres” that had reduced or lost the capacity to multiply.

The University of Pittsburgh is concluding its Energy Law and Policy Institute Friday, a two-day forum bringing together legal experts, policymakers and industry representatives to discuss the nation’s energy future.

Topics covered at the event include tax incentive financing for energy projects, the law and policy of pipeline infrastructure and fossil fuel exports, changing environmental regulations regarding shale gas development, and land use and title law in energy issues.

Flickr user Renée S. Suen

The adage “You are what you eat” is considered to be fairly universal, but researchers at the University of Pittsburgh say it’s what you don’t eat that might make the bigger impact.

According to a new study, diets lacking omega-3 fatty acids can have negative effects over generations, especially on teens.

A team led by Bita Moghaddam, a professor of neuroscience at Pitt, found second-generation deficiencies of omega-3s caused heightened states of anxiety, hyperactivity and slower learning ability.

With the help of a million dollars in state grants and tax credits, Gordon Food Service will locate a new distribution center in the Pittsburgh region, bringing more than 150 jobs.

Gordon Food Service, the largest family-owned and operated food service distributor in North America, will construct a 480,000-square-foot food distribution center in Findlay Township.

Andy Maier, marketing communications manager at Gordon Food Service, said the new facility will improve service for its northern customers.

A Somerset prison is chemically treating its water supply after four inmates became infected with Legionella.

On July 26, Department of Corrections officials tested the water system at the State Corrections Institution-Somerset with preliminary results finding no traces of Legionella. However, the bacteria was found in the facility’s cooling towers.

Susan McNaughton, press secretary for the DOC, said the prison is cooperating with state agencies to eliminate the bacteria.

The Better Business Bureau is urging consumers to take a hands-on approach in monitoring financial records after five Russian and Ukrainian hackers were charged with stealing 160 million credit card numbers over seven years.

Caitlin Vancas, spokeswoman for the BBB of Western Pennsylvania, said people need to take a closer look at their bills and statements in order to stay secure.

Twenty-five million people in the United States have asthma, and that number is growing every year.

Research by the Allegheny Health Network is now underway that examines whether high levels of particulate air pollution in the Pittsburgh area are connected to an increased number of asthma attacks known as exacerbations.

Pittsburgh has taken great steps to move away from being one of the most polluted cities in the nation, but tiny fragments of pollution generated from the burning of fossil fuels called particulates still pose health problems for those with asthma.

Two Pittsburgh institutions are teaming up to show the importance of food in African American slavery.

The Heinz History Center, along with Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village, is hosting “Beyond the Big House Kitchen: A Culinary History of American Slavery,” a demonstration showcasing how African American slaves were able to cook and eat on the run.

Sarah Rooney, community programs manager for the Heinz History Center, said the exhibit will show the everyday struggles of freedom seekers.

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