Allegheny County

Allegheny County has announced a new medical collaboration for jail medical services, following the announcement of a parting of ways with former provider Corizon.

The private health care provider had come under fire after the death of four inmates in custody and complaints about working conditions from employees. Allegheny County announced it would not renew the contract with Corizon when it expires in August.

Starting in September, Allegheny Health Network will be the provider of health care services at Allegheny County Jail.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Don’t be fooled by Buffalo Drive just outside South Park; there are no buffalo there. Instead, you’ll find the park’s 11 resident bison on a small turnoff marked “Game Preserve.”

You have your usual suburbs, and then here you got a park with great big animals in it,” said South Park’s naturalist, John Doyle. He and Gregory Hecker care for the herd. 

Index Ranks PA Counties' Economic Competitiveness

Apr 18, 2015

A Pittsburgh-based consulting firm released on April 15 an index of Pennsylvania county competitiveness rankings that attempts to determine which counties are poised for future economic growth.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner on Tuesday announced she has filed legal action against four county authorities that she said are refusing to allow her office to conduct performance audits.

Wagner is seeking to audit the Allegheny County Airport Authority, the Sports and Exhibition Authority of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County (SEA), the Allegheny County Port Authority, and the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN).

Allegheny County Police Still Keep Many Records On Paper

Mar 9, 2015
Halle Stockton / PublicSource

For the Allegheny County Police Department, searching for details on past crimes sometimes calls for cabinet duty.

That means a team of detectives literally thumbing through paper records in old-fashioned file cabinets.

Allegheny County has responded to a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union and a woman who is caring for four children without receiving financial help. The ACLU filed the suit on behalf of Tracy Schaeffer who has taken care of her grand nieces and nephews since 2012. The suit alleges Schaeffer was not notified of her options to become a certified foster parent.

Allegheny County has launched an online information portal that will put in one place information from various departments.

“You can go into the Health Department, look at their air quality index, you can look at the courts as far as their records, of course we have the property assessment records, there’s treasury data,” said William McKain, Allegheny County manager.

Such portals have been used in other cities, according to McKain.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner is releasing an analysis of county-owned vehicles that she said reveals a number of issues including misuse, fraud, lack of oversight and major gaps in usage data.

In a summary of the audit, released Tuesday, Wagner said it took about a month for the county to give her office the number of vehicles in the fleet. She said that needs to be fixed.

90.5 / Michael Lynch

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, with the support of Pennsylvania Governor-elect Tom Wolf, announced his bid for re-election Thursday.

The Squirrel Hill Democrat is seeking a second four-year term, and his campaign can be summed up in two words: jobs and transportation.

With desirable jobs come young talent, and according to Fitzgerald, that talent leads to progress.

One of the most iconic symbols in downtown Pittsburgh is set to undergo a series of renovations that will preserve its history and bring it up to date.

Allegheny County has selected the firm of Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff + Goettel to develop a Master Facilities Plan to restore the 126-year-old Allegheny County Courthouse.

The firm will assess the building’s heating, lighting, electric and security systems to determine what construction needs completed, according to Principal Sheldon Goettel.

Allegheny County has followed in the City of Pittsburgh’s footsteps and will no longer include a question about prior criminal convictions on its job applications starting in January.

County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said the policy increases the number of available applicants to fill county positions and gives those with prior convictions a fair shot at an interview.

In 2012, Tracey Schaeffer of Leechburg became the foster parent for her four grand nieces and nephews whose parents were deemed unable to take care of them. Since then, she has been fighting with the Allegheny County Department of Children, Youth and Families to get help paying for their care.

Now the ACLU of Pennsylvania has filed suit asking for payment and for a change in any policy or practices that might be illegal.

It’s reasonable to expect that, when calling 911, the person on the other end of the line is alert, well rested, and not overworked.

But Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner said she’s concerned that the county’s 9-1-1 center employees are racking up too much overtime, leading to escalated costs and risks to public safety.

Flickr user dfirecop

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner said Tuesday she is concerned that the county does not know how many vehicles it has and how many of those go home with employees each night.

In a letter sent to County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and County Manager William McKain Monday evening, Wagner reiterated a request for complete information about county vehicles and their usage for a pending audit.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The Allegheny County Crime Lab is a full lab that performs a wealth crime-related tasks, such as DNA testing and crime scene analysis, but it’s funding has been cut by the state in recent years.

If the lab continues to receive no state funding, it’s in danger of closing. On Tuesday, a joint legislative hearing heard from a list of speakers about why the lab should be a funding priority. Allegheny County Medical Examiner Karl Williams said, for starters, it’s a one-of-a-kind facility.

Every four years, Allegheny County is required to analyze all departments and determine which, if any, departments need to be reorganized, done away with or left as they are.

“It’s a very worthwhile exercise,” said County Manager William McKain. “We go through and drill down and talk to the departments, pull a lot of data and information out, assess their mission, how they’re accomplishing that, and what their future needs would be.”

Last week, Allegheny County announced that all same-sex partners of county employees would have their domestic partner benefits cut off effective July 31.

Following an outcry from advocates and some receiving benefits that 30 days was not enough time to arrange for new coverage and/or legally marry, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald has now extended the cut-off date to June 30, 2015.

Flickr user Gexydaf

Allegheny County announced last week plans to cut off benefits to same-sex partners of its employees. The move was made because same-sex couples can now marry in Pennsylvania. Same-sex couples receiving benefits from Allegheny County must now show proof of marriage, or lose their domestic partner benefits.

It’s not so much the cutting off of benefits that has some worried, but the timeline. The benefits will be terminated August 1, giving employees and their partners little more than a month to arrange for new coverage, or get legally married.

Construction will begin on three housing projects in Allegheny County by the end of the year thanks to $2.7 million in tax credits from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Authority (PHFA).

“There will be a significant number of construction jobs and then obviously the jobs that will be necessary in order to run the projects. In total it’s about $33 million dollars’ worth of development so, it will be fairly significant in terms of job creation,” said Dennis Davin, Allegheny County Economic Development Director.

The takeaway: Allegheny County's fiscal condition is good, but policy makers shouldn't be complacent because challenges are on the horizon.

That's according to County Controller Chelsa Wagner, who released her 2013 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report Tuesday.

The report shows that the county’s fund balance stands at $28 million — up $15 million from the previous year,  and Standard & Poor’s rating agency has upgraded the county’s debt from A+ to AA-. Wagner also noted that jobs increased by more than 20,000 making the region home to more than 1.2 million employees.

During the school year, many children in the region depend on school breakfasts and lunches for daily nutrition. When summer hits, it often places a burden on families who may be food insecure. For decades summer food programs have been filling the void. They date back to when Jimmy Carter was president.

“He saw the gap in children who were out of school possibly not receiving nutritious meals so he wanted something they could carry on through the summer until school started again in the fall,” said Sally Petrilli, Allegheny County service administrator.

Julian Routh

Reporters and county officials watched in anticipation as Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald slowly typed his name and phone number onto a giant computer screen in his office Thursday morning.

After creating an account, a phone rang in the middle of the table, and a look of relief permeated Fitzgerald’s face.

That was the first notification from the newly unveiled Allegheny Alerts system.

Flickr user pennstatenews

Advanced manufacturing is picking up in the Pittsburgh region, more jobs are requiring technology skills and the financial and businesses services sector is greatest contributor to the gross regional product.

Those are just some of the takeaways from the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance’s seventh annual economic development performance scorecard and “Wins Day” Wednesday.

The alliance is the marketing affiliate of the Allegheny Conference for Economic Development and is charged with the task of marketing the Pittsburgh region to businesses and workers alike.

To cut costs and encourage more effective communication between businesses and county government, Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner is taking the next step in having her office go paperless.

Vendors are now being urged to send invoices to the county electronically, which will save the office between $15,000 and $20,000 per year in postage, paper and ink. 

Businesses still have the option to submit paper invoices, but Wagner said she expects using the electronic system to be a requirement soon.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Live Well Allegheny is a new initiative aimed at promoting health and wellness throughout Allegheny County.

The effort was launched Tuesday by Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, members of the county Board of Health and Health Department Director Karen Hacker.

Fitzgerald said while the Pittsburgh region ranks high on national lists for things such as livability and academia, it could also be a leader in healthy living.

As counties, municipalities and school districts prepare to send tax bills, Allegheny County is reporting a drop in taxable real estate values. Due to assessment appeals, the overall value of land and buildings in the county dropped by 4.8 percent.

There is now a total of a little more than $75 billion in taxable property in the county, versus more than $79 billion last year. But, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said that’s not unusual following a reassessment.

What was once one of the most polluted cities in the nation now has 49 Energy Star certified commercial facilities. 

It was announced Thursday that the City-County Building in downtown Pittsburgh has earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star rating, meaning the building performs in the top 25 percent of similar facilities in terms of energy efficiency nationwide.

County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said sustainability is something Allegheny County has been focused on for some time.

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

Visitors to the Allegheny County Courthouse this holiday season will see a few new festive embellishments. 

Along with the colorful globes that normally adorn the county’s official tree, nearly 100 ornaments created by local school districts have been added to the boughs. 

Every district in the county was invited to use recycled scrap material to create an ornament representing the district itself and one for each of the communities within its borders.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald presented his 2014 budget to the County Council Tuesday evening.

Fitzgerald was visibly proud of the fact that Allegheny County will not be increasing property taxes in the county for the 12th time in 13 years.

He said the stabilized millage has contributed to the region’s success over the past few years.

A long-standing fall tradition at Hartwood Acres is back for another year, and organizers say it will be bigger than ever. 

The Allegheny County Green & Innovation Festival and Hay Day will have more vendors, presentations and crafts than previous years when it opens for business Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

County Special Events Coordinator Katie Harbison said last year’s high attendance was unexpected.

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