Mike Richards

News Assistant
Don Stranger

Ask a Pittsburgher where the best pizza in the city is and you’re bound to get a different answer depending on which pie lover you ask.

For anyone looking to make an informed decision, more than a dozen pizza shops will come together May 14 for the second Steel City Pizza Fest in Lawrenceville.

Charlie Neibergall / AP

Well, of course. But it's been a long time.

Pennsylvania has become a fairly solid blue state since then-candidate George H. W. Bush won the Republican presidential nomination in 1988, but that didn’t stop GOP hopeful Donald Trump from winning a substantial number of votes on Tuesday.

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Domestic abuse victims in Pennsylvania will no longer have to wait for as long as two years to get a divorce from spouses convicted of abuse.

Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation on Thursday which makes two major changes to how courts deal with domestic violence divorce proceedings.

Greg Sciulli

While many vacant homes continue to crumble in Wilkinsburg, a select few will have their stories told.

The Wilkinsburg Vacant Home Tour began as a project by Carnegie Mellon University to address the issue of urban decay in the borough. The Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation adopted the tour during its second year.

John Altdorfer / Point Park University

Veteran investigative reporter Andrew Conte will lead Point Park University’s new journalism facility, school officials announced Wednesday.

The Center for Media Innovation was built with a $2.5 million grant from the Allegheny Foundation, which was created by late Trib owner Richard Mellon Scaife. Trib Total Media is also a sponsor of the media center.

Margot Callahan

Margot Callahan, of Highland Park, is providing her voice for a stranger – literally. She’s one of thousands of people who have donated their voices to people with vocal disabilities, caused by a range of factors such as a stroke, cerebral palsy or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

VocaliD is collecting those voices and using them for voice software devices. The goal is to provide a more accurate representation of the actual person’s voice, rather than being stuck with a robotic generic one.

Google Maps

Around 55,000 commuters who cross the Liberty Bridge on a daily basis may need to choose a different route starting this month.

An $80.08 million renovation project begins at the end of April and finishes sometime in 2018, according to PennDOT District 11 spokesman Steve Cowan.

Carnegie Mellon University

Autonomous robots could handle and dispose of waste from nuclear sites as part of a robotics traineeship program between Carnegie Mellon University and the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Environmental Management

VCU CNS / Flickr

First-time offenders of driving under the influence may soon be required to utilize ignition interlock systems within their cars for one year.

Currently, Pennsylvania law only requires repeat offenders to use the technology for one year. But a new bill would also require first-time offenders, caught with a blood alcohol content level of .10 or higher, to install an interlock device. 

Mike Richards / 90.5 WESA

Friday is 3/11 and to celebrate, the city's Department of Innovation and Performance unveiled new software and a mobile app for Pittsburgh’s 311 response center.

The new customer management software is designed to improve transparency and speed for everyone from city residents to city workers to 311 operators when it comes to handling non-emergency situations.

Mike Richards / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh FBI Office, as part of its Heroin Outreach Prevention and Education Initiative, has launched a pilot program that seeks to educate young people on the dangers of opioids, rather than just continue making arrests.

The program allows students to take ownership of the problem in western Pennsylvania, according to United States Attorney David Hickton.

Salvation Army USA West / Flickr

Officials at the Community College of Allegheny County’s south campus are trying to fight student hunger with a new food pantry.

School management came to the idea after a student allegedly stole a hoagie from a sandwich sale, said Kelli Maxwell, dean of student development at CCAC south campus.

“It is a theft, so we decided to issue the student a warning,” Maxwell said. “But it was really eye opening for us, in terms of what we need to do to help eliminate hunger.”

Mike Richards / 90.5 WESA

Urban poverty is a serious issue for any city, but a new report shows that Pittsburgh’s suburban neighborhoods may be even more concerning.  

A study done by Jefferson Regional Foundation last June found national suburban poverty rates were increasing nearly five times faster than urban poverty rates. In Pittsburgh's South Hills, 20 percent of families make less than $35,000 a year, and the number of children eligible to receive free or reduced lunch has increased every year since 2010.

Felipe Dana / AP

Health officials are asking Pennsylvanians to pay attention to travel advisories as they test six to eight people for the mosquito-borne Zika virus. No cases are confirmed yet.

Mrs Airwolfhound / Flickr

The United States Air Force is trying to decide where to send a new squadron of C-17 aircrafts, and the 911th Airlift Wing at the Pittsburgh International Airport is one of the bases being considered for the move.

The C-17s are large cargo jets, which would replace the smaller, propeller-driven C-130s currently at the base.  

University of the Fraser Valley / Flickr

The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee will begin its first of several discussions on concussions in Washington D.C.

Alex / Flickr

Replacing sitting with light housework or a stroll may be the new recommendation for severely obese adults looking to reduce their risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes.

That’s what a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health-led team found after a week long study tracking 927 patients before their weight-loss surgery.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

It’s not just Friday, it’s Steelers Friday.

The Courthouse Courtyard was a sea of black and gold Friday as enthusiastic Steelers fan gathered for a playoff rally. The team will take on the Cincinnati Bengals in a last-chance wild card bid at 8:15 p.m. Saturday.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said he sensed the energy all over town.

“It’s not exactly Steeler weather, but tomorrow it’s going to be, when we come back with a victory,” he said. 

Mike Richards / 90.5 WESA

City officials announced months of celebrations planned to commemorate Pittsburgh’s Bicentennial at the City County Building on Wednesday.

“In 1816, the legislature of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania gave Pittsburgh the right to become a city. And it was in March of 1816 that the incorporation of the city was made possible,” said Andy Masich, CEO of the Heinz History Center and chairman of the Bicentennial Commission. He opened the event with a brief history of the city’s roots.

Martin Pettitt / Flickr

Experts will join new and experienced bird watchers expecting to identify 80 species and 29,000 individual kinds of birds in the Pittsburgh region during a one-day count.

The birds will be documented during the annual “Christmas Bird Count.”

 “There is no estimation whatsoever,” said Brian Shema, operations director at the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania. “People are physically counting those birds. We do not take any estimates of anything. What we miss, we miss. And what we count, we document.”

Robert Nelson / Flickr

Pennsylvania Sen. Art Haywood (D-Philadelphia) called on fellow legislators last week to harness the heartbreak and outrage that followed the recent San Bernardino attack and Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting anniversary to support his handgun licensing legislation.

Nothing has been done to address the underlying access to guns, he said.

“Nothing," he said. "Nothing to respond to the killing of innocent children and adults: be it in schools, offices, movies, neighborhoods, walking up and down the street.”

Erno Mijland / Flickr

Just like the tread on a tire, the tread on your shoes eventually wears down. And according to researchers, many U.S. workers end up falling because of slippery, worn shoes.

University of Pittsburgh researchers are using a $1.5 million grant from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health to explore exactly how workers’ shoes contribute to those falls, as well as how to better gage when a shoe needs to be replaced.

Fotos GOVBA / Flickr

Hospital readmission rates for Pennsylvanians suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure are down.

A new report from the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PH4C) showed that those patients did not have to return to the hospital as frequently from January 2013 through August 2014. It’s part of a downward trend in the last few years, PH4C reported.

The report also looked at readmission rates for people with abnormal heartbeats and diabetes and found that the rates for those conditions remained the same.

Matt Rourke / AP

 

Environmentalist groups are protesting provisions advancing through the Pennsylvania Legislature as part of budget-related bill.

More than a half-dozen organizations signed a  statement on Thursday as senators overwhelmingly approved the 76-page bill Thursday, barely 24 hours after it became public.

Joseph Novak / Flickr

 

The Housing Authority of Pittsburgh will be able to further a program aimed at helping guide low-income residents through financial barriers, especially housing issues, with the help of federal funding provided Monday. 

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded more than $2 million to housing agencies across the Commonwealth to pay for Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program coordinators. The Housing Authority of Pittsburgh will get $304,529 of that and another $169,307 will go to the Allegheny County Housing Authority.

Screengrab / DisneyResearchHUB on YouTube

Imagine turning on your motorcycle and then the smart watch you're wearing automatically vocalizes the estimated time to return home based on current traffic patterns.

Carnegie Mellon University teamed with Disney Research to create technology for smart watches that can do just that -- detect what the user is holding to offer related information.

Mike Richards / 90.5 WESA News

Pittsburgh may be the City of Champions, but a high smoking rate is not the competition its residents should want to win, said Allegheny County Councilman Tom Baker.

NIAID / Flickr

 When the word “bioterrorism” comes up in conversation, an anthrax-laced envelope might come to mind. But what about terrorists utilizing mosquitos to spread a virus?

That’s the type of bio-warfare the University of Pittsburgh Center for Vaccine Research is focusing on fighting.

A $7.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense, allows researchers to accelerate the development of drugs and vaccines against alphaviruses, a group of about 30 different viruses that are mainly transmitted by mosquitoes.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

November is national blogging month and to celebrate, Most Wanted Fine Art (MWFA) is teaming up with Pittsburgh bloggers to honor their contributions to the "Burghosphere," by giving out awards for the first time.

Gadgetdude / Flickr

The difference between a worker who has a high school diploma and one who doesn’t may have a larger impact on the economy than some may realize. 

Each year, Pennsylvanians without a high school diploma or GED cost taxpayers an average of $683 each, according to Jamie Baxter, director of legislative policy and advocacy at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit (AIU).

But getting them a high school diploma, according to the AIU, could mean the state getting up to $6,000 per year in taxes from each worker. 

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