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

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.

After nearly four years, the head of Pennsylvania’s leading natural gas industry group will be stepping down.

The Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) announced Friday its CEO Kathryn Klaber will be leaving the group this fall and will stay on during a nationwide search for her replacement.

Klaber, a Beaver Falls native, will be representing the MSC at upcoming events in Australia and London and will host the group’s third annual Shale Insight conference in Philadelphia in September.

Michael Lynch / 90.5 WESA

Hundreds of men, women and children sang, screamed and chanted outside of the East Liberty Target Wednesday to call out one of the nation’s largest low-wage employers.

Residents are demanding that the development taking place in the East End directly benefit the community.

According to protesters, Target entered a “gentleman’s agreement” with the community before the store was built, saying that the shopping giant would hire East Liberty residents and offer them well-paying jobs to revitalize the community.

The newest member of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is scheduled to be sworn in July 30th.

Gov. Tom Corbett’s nominee, Correale Stevens, was confirmed by the Senate on a 50-0 vote on June 30, returning the court to a four-to-three Republican majority and filling the vacant seat left by the resignation of Justice Joan Orie Melvin.

The 66-year-old judge from Luzerne County will serve through 2016 — the end of Melvin’s term.

Research by a Pittsburgh physician could help women diagnosed with ovarian cancer determine the most effective chemotherapy treatments with their doctors.

The study, led by Dr. Thomas Krivak, assistant director of Gynecological Oncology at West Penn Allegheny Health Systems, supports the ChemoFx chemoresponse assay, a tool used to accurately predict how individual women will respond to platinum-based chemotherapy for ovarian cancer.

The number of police pursuits in Pennsylvania has increased once again, according to state police.

Law enforcement agencies across the commonwealth reported 1,522 vehicle pursuits in 2012, up 69 from the previous year.

Eight hundreds pursuits began as simple traffic violations, registration plate violations or inspection violations, and 214 chases were initiated because of suspected DUI. Felony criminal offenses accounted for 228 pursuits, and 131 were due to a stolen or suspected stolen vehicle.

County, state and federal teams will finish conducting damage assessments Friday afternoon after flash floods and severe weather plagued the Pittsburgh region.

Alvin Henderson, chief of Allegheny County Emergency Services, said he and his teams are trying to restore a sense of normalcy.

“We’re working as quickly as we can to try to collect this data so we can find out what forms of assistance we’re hopefully going to be able to receive,” he said.

Assessment teams first visited areas hardest hit by the flooding.

Pennsylvania’s senior U.S. Senator is criticizing a House budget plan that would cut Community Development Block Grants nearly in half.

While the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee put forward $3.15 billion in grants,  the House proposal is $1.67 billion.

In a letter to the committee, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) said, “The CDBG program is a smart investment that directly helps cities and municipalities catalyze economic development and create jobs. As this bill comes to the floor I will continue to advocate for a strong funding level for the CDBG program.”

PA's Anti-Puppy Mill Law Enforcement Criticized

Jul 16, 2013

Pennsylvania's independently elected fiscal watchdog says the state is doing a poor job enforcing an anti-puppy mill law that's designed to protect buyers and ensure breeders maintain humane practices.

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said in an audit released this week that lax leadership and ineffective program administration plagued the Dog Law Enforcement Office.

The fracking debate continues.

A study released Tuesday by an environmental activist group shows Pennsylvania’s bonding practices are inadequate to cover the cost and range of damage from drilling and fracking activities.

The report from the PennEnvironment Research and Policy Center examined Pennsylvania’s financial assurance requirements for oil and gas drilling operations and found that the state’s requirements are lacking.

Since 2008, there have been nearly 10,000 automobile crashes with 96 fatalities statewide along Route 30.

The Pennsylvania State Police are partnering with municipal police departments to initiate a crackdown on aggressive driving along Route 30.

State police spokesman Adam Reed, said the Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic initiative, or “HEAT on 30,” will span Pennsylvania’s Route 30.

Boilermakers, utilities workers and politicians rallied Friday in an effort to save southwestern Pennsylvania coal jobs.

Congressman Tim Murphy (R-PA-18) took to the megaphone outside of Boilermakers Local 154 Hall in Pittsburgh to take a stand against the Environmental Protection Agency and its latest regulations that contribute to the closing of two Pittsburgh power plants.

The Pittsburgh Trail Advocacy Group (PTAG) is trying to attract more bikers, hikers and visitors to Allegheny County’s trails by broadening this year's celebration.  

The eighth annual Trail Fest, formerly the Mountain Bike Fest, will feature a wider variety of events than in years past. Trail running and hiking have been added to the list of activities,  with the mainstay — mountain bike riding returning.

Peter Greninger, president of PTAG, said the festival is for any nature lover.

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