Virginia Alvino Young

Reporter

Virginia reports on identity and justice for 90.5 WESA. That means looking at how people see themselves in the community, and how the community makes them feel. Her reporting examines things like race, policing, and housing to tell the stories of folks we often don't hear from. 

A native of Las Vegas, NV, Virginia has slowly been making her way eastward, reporting for NPR stations across the country. She started her reporting career at the statehouse in Oregon, and has had stints in Indiana and Texas before moving to Pittsburgh in 2016. 

Virginia lives on the North Side with her husband and fat cat Bean. They enjoy exploring Pittsburgh's neighborhoods, and hiking throughout the region, although they usually leave Bean at home. 

Charlie Riedel / AP

Heavy rains put a damper on the first day of the U.S. Open Thursday. Golfers now have to make up for the delayed play.

Players in the U.S. Open golf 72 holes – four rounds of play usually spread evenly over four days.

But several inches of heavy rain caused three stoppages on day one of golf’s biggest championship.

The United State Golf Association's Director of Public Relations Janeen Driscoll said it takes a lot to suspend play.

Staff Sgt. Regina Machine / U.S. Army

Earlier this week in Westmoreland County, the Hempfield Township’s zoning hearing board decided to allow a teenage girl to keep her four pet therapy chickens despite initial neighbor complaints.

Emily Stock / 90.5 WESA

Thursday is the first day of the U.S. Open, one of golf’s biggest championships. Most of the world’s best male golfers, professionals and amateurs alike, are in the Pittsburgh area to compete.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

 

Pittsburgh public safety and emergency response departments are working together to create a new strategy for dealing with large events and natural disasters.

The changes were proposed after presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s April rally at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, during which three people were arrested and four police officers treated for minor injuries.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

The Allegheny County Sheriff’s Department is partnering with the gun industry’s main trade group to encourage safe gun practices in Pittsburgh.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation provided the Sheriff’s Department with free cable gun locks to distribute to gun-owners, with officials saying it’s the best way to prevent firearm accidents.

The organization said it has provided 37 million locks to law enforcement agencies across the country, including to Norma Kutscher who owns a 380 Ruger.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

 

Hundreds of golfers are trying to secure the remaining spots in the U.S. Open, which takes place this month.

This year, the annual golf competition is being held at the Oakmont Country Club, just outside of Pittsburgh, June 13 through 19.

About half of the 156 competitors have already been chosen – roughly 70 are top professionals who were entered automatically. Ten-thousand golfers wanted the remaining spots and 10 sectional qualifying rounds across the country on Monday determines who gets them.

andrewwin / Flickr

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recommends restoring 7.3 acres of ecosystem on Pittsburgh’s North Shore along the Ohio River. 

Officials with the corps and its nonprofit partner Riverlife began a study of the area last year in hopes of restoring degraded riverbanks and improving the depleted aquatic and floodplain habitat.

Ginny / Flickr

Contemporary Pride festivals are largely celebrations of personal identity and sexuality born from the start of the gay liberation movement.

"(They're) a time to remember the folks that have fought battles in years past and ... to continue the fight for the community to achieve full equality," said Christine Bryan, director of marketing and development for the Delta Foundation, the North Side-based nonprofit that organizes Pittsburgh Pride

Virginia Alvino / 90.5 WESA

Though more than 60 percent of the students in Pittsburgh Public Schools are people of color, district officials said eighty-five percent of its teachers are white and primarily women.

Carrick High School junior Trevon Stanton said throughout his education, he’s rarely had a teacher who looks like him. That’s why he’s considering becoming a teacher one day.

First off, it starts with me," Stanton said. "If no one’s going to be the change then I will.”

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

More than 200 people pedaled out to Bike Pittsburgh's city-wide celebration of national Bike to Work Day on Friday. 

The Lawrenceville-based nonprofit coordinated coffee meet-ups and breakfast stations across the city. 

Virginia Alvino / 90.5 WESA

This month, Pittsburgh officials and members of the organization Donate Life are encouraging locals to consider becoming organ donors.

According to Donate Life, there are more than 8,000 people in Pennsylvania waiting to receive organ transplants. Most transplanted organs come from deceased donors, but just 46 percent of Pennsylvanians are registered eye, organ and tissue donors. While advocates are working to increase that number, they're also looking for more options to meet the demand.

For some, like Steve Debakawitz, that’s a living donor.

Virginia Alvino / 90.5 WESA

Don Mahaney is the reigning king of North Side Sandwich Week. He's the owner of Scratch Food and Beverage, whose Reuben sandwich was voted the best of the North Side in 2015.

The fifth annual North Side Sandwich Week kicked off Tuesday at his restaurant, and this year, it has an added mission.

Christine Wagner / Flickr

 

After bringing in more than $1 million Tuesday, Pittsburgh’s annual Day of Giving was halted early.

Nick Amoscato / Flickr

About 800 organizations are asking for donations Tuesday as part of Pittsburgh’s annual Day of Giving.

Now in its seventh year, the day-long call to altruism traditionally included as much as $750,000 in match money from the Pittsburgh Foundation.

But with so many organizations now involved, as the foundation told the Pittsburgh City Paper, that money is stretched too thin.

Virginia Alvino / 90.5 WESA

At a hearing Thursday, the Affordable Housing Task Force presented its recommendations to protect low-income housing options in Pittsburgh to City Council members.

Tom Wolf / Twitter

  

Nearly 250 million Americans have the right to vote, but many don't exercise it.

University of Pittsburgh Professor Victoria Shineman said there are plenty of reasons for that.

"Voter registration is one of the biggest barriers, especially for initial participation," she said. "A lot of states have deadlines well before the actual election. A lot of people miss that deadline. Also things if you move, if you change your address, remembering to update your address."

Virginia Alvino / 90.5 WESA News

Tree Pittsburgh has a lot to celebrate. Friday marks Earth Day, Arbor Day is just around the corner and this year, the nonprofit turns 10 years old. 

Executive Director Danielle Crumrine said, with the help of partners and thousands of volunteers, she's hoping to plant 10,000 trees this year marking a decade of service. That’s five times more than the organization generally plants each year.

“On Earth Day, when everyone’s thinking about trees and the environment, it’s a good time to remind folks that trees need people to care for them,” Crumrine said.

Virginia Alvino / 90.5 WESA

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream fame, said they’ve been constituents of Vermont Senator, and Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders for more than three decades.

Now they’re campaigning across the country on his behalf, and giving away ice cream along the way.

xMizLitx / Flickr

For attorney Aimee Zundel, Pittsburgh Public Schools' student policies need to serve the needs of all students.

"Particularly our at-risk populations and students that are more susceptible to not feeling safe within the school for example,” Zundel said. 

Zundel is working with the district, and its policy committee, to craft a plan to outline specific rights for transgender students. 

Virginia Alvino / 90.5 WESA

Dozens of service workers, students and families protested outside a McDonald's restaurant on Pittsburgh’s North Side Thursday.

William Boas led the crowd in chants by megaphone. 

He said fast food jobs aren't just for teenagers. 

“This McDonald's right here is open 24 hours a day," Boas said. "We don’t have to be the smartest people in the world to know that it takes adults to run that store. Right now, it’s a Thursday morning. Kids are in school.” 

Flickr user jrgcastro

Josh Malloy, 25, lives in East Liberty with his little brother and said his $12.50 per hour salary makes it difficult to keep up with the cost of living. 

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton told Pittsburghers on Wednesday she wants to create clean energy jobs, repair aging infrastructure and give students better options for financing their educations.

More than 2,000 packed the Skibo Gymnasium at Carnegie Mellon University after hours waiting in the chilly afternoon sun. 

Mike Groll / AP

Hillary Clinton is making her first Pennsylvania stop of the election cycle. The presidential hopeful will visit Carnegie Melon University on Wednesday. 

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders is the first candidate of either party to visit Pittsburgh this election cycle. About 8,500 people filled the Downtown convention center to hear the Vermont senator give his usual stump addressing affordable education and accountability on Wall Street.

But Sanders visit to the Steel City appeared to have one strong focus: “Together we are going to rebuild the trade union movement in this country.”

Virginia Alvino / 90.5 WESA

Hundreds of teachers, parents and alumni attended a Penn Hills School District board meeting Tuesday night, to protest a decision to furlough more than 40 teachers.

The district will also cut more than 20 elective courses including arts, law and math courses. 

The school board voted 7-2 in favor of the plan. The changes go into effect at the end of this school year.

Superintendent Nancy Hines said the district has been fighting for its life and faces a possible state takeover. Last year, Penn Hills had to borrow $20 million and anticipates a deficit this year.

Wikimedia Commons

Drug-related deaths are usually ruled accidental.

But one Pennsylvania coroner said he's ruling some overdoses homicides. Lycoming County Coroner Charles Kiessling said he’s not the first in Pennsylvania to interpret toxicology reports in that way and that it's legal. 

Drug-related deaths are on the rise in Pennsylvania - the state saw more than 2,700 in 2014. That's an increase of 13 percent from the year before. Among all overdoses, heroin is the most frequently identified drug. 

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Automation-driven manufacturing continues to lead steady economic growth in the Pittsburgh-region.  

An annual report released by the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance Thursday said advanced manufacturing in the 10 counties around the city are expected to see $2.9 billion in investments from deals made last year.

Mike Procarlo / Flickr

The leader of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh said Monday the church is human and wants to apologize for any pain its leaders may have caused.

Bishop David Zubik held a special Service of Apology at St. Paul's Cathedral in Oakland open to anyone who may have experienced emotional or physical pain from the church.

90.5 WESA's Virginia Alvino talked to Larkin Page-Jacobs about the service's message and why some sexual abuse victims find it troubling. 

University of Wisconsin

Premature deaths and infant mortality rates are dropping as Allegheny County continues to improve in health rankings statewide.

That’s according to an annual study conducted by the University of Wisconsin looking at the overall health of all U.S. counties.

Allegheny County ranked 26th among Pennsylvania’s 67 counties and has climbed steadily for the last five years. Philadelphia County ranked last, though nearby Chester County came in as the healthiest in the state.

Virginia Alvino / 90.5 WESA

Hundreds of residents filled South Avenue United Methodist Church in Wilkinsburg on Saturday to talk about crime and community development following Thursday's shooting that killed five people, including a pregnant woman.

Among community members and leaders was Michael Walker, whose son, Jerry Shelton, died in the mass shooting.

“My son was my oldest," Walker told the crowd. "He was a good man. A good, caring and loving man.”

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