Features & Special Reports

City Government
7:52 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Facing Tough Budget Obligations, Pittsburgh Sees Opportunities in Grant Funding

As Pittsburgh struggles with financial obligations such as increased health care and pension costs, it still wants to pursue initiatives that improve quality of life. That's where grant funding comes in.
Credit AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

Leigh Halverson is the deputy chief of staff for economic development in the Peduto administration, and on one wall of her office is a row of pink post it notes, with different dollar amounts written on them.

“$440,000 from the foundations this year to support our Bureau of Neighborhood Empowerment,” she says. “$200,000 from the National League of Cities for our Healthy Together campaign … $75,000 for our green and healthy homes initiative.”

Read more
Remake Learning
7:38 am
Mon December 15, 2014

Remember Shop Class? In Beaver Falls, It's Greener Than Ever

Beaver Falls High School students Brad Dawson (left) and Tanner Dobson work on a project in their technology education class. Students at the school have been learning how to make solar panels and build hydro and wind generators.
Ryan Loew 90.5 WESA

At Beaver Falls High School, Tim Liller teaches technology education, or the class typically thought of as "shop."

Once a staple of high school education, shop class has fallen by the wayside with the decline of American manufacturing. But here, Liller's students still learn the basics, including how to wire a home and fix small engines. And more recently, they've also been learning how to make solar panels and build hydro and wind generators.

These are skills Liller hopes they can build on when they graduate.

Read more
Remake Learning
4:30 am
Wed November 26, 2014

Art and Science Intersect at the Environmental Charter School's Thinking Lab

Tori Hogue (left) and Riley Wolynn, eighth graders at the Environmental Charter School at Frick Park, learn HTML in the school's Thinking Lab.
Ryan Loew 90.5 WESA

On a recent Thursday morning at the Environmental Charter School at Frick Park, eighth graders Tori Hogue and Riley Wolynn are hacking web pages.

It's not "hacking" in the sense that often dominates headlines. The students are using a web program to inspect and manipulate websites, and in the process, learn HTML. 

Read more
Economy & Business
5:13 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

Despite Labor Victory, UPMC Says Union Has 'Failed Miserably'

An administrative law judge from the National Labor Relations Board on Friday ruled that UPMC had violated workers' rights. UPMC will appeal that decision.
Credit Flickr user Jorge Castro

An administrative law judge with the National Labor Relations Board on Friday issued his decision regarding allegations of labor violations at UPMC. The 123-page document recounts the minute details that led to the discipline or firing of eight workers at UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside.

Read more
Community
7:44 am
Fri November 14, 2014

Measuring Poverty's Impact on the LGBT Community

There are 45.3 million Americans living in poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Poverty affects people from all walks of life, in all areas of the country, but according to several studies, people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender are hit by poverty more often than others.

“I struggle every day,” said Lynn, who lives just outside Pittsburgh. She didn’t want to use her last name. Lynn identifies as lesbian, and she doesn’t work because of a disability. Lynn is also diabetic and living on a very fixed income.

Read more
Veterans' Stories: Project 412
3:30 am
Tue November 11, 2014

Ron Worstell: Service In Vietnam Is 75 Percent Of Who I Am Today'

Former U.S. Army infantryman Ron Worstell.
Credit Courtesy photo

Ron Worstell served as an infantryman for the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1970.

“I tell everybody that my time in Vietnam of one year at the age of 20 something was really five percent of my life at that time, but that experience is 75 percent of who I am today,” he said.

Read more
Health
6:35 am
Mon November 10, 2014

How Re-Imagining Dreams Can Help Those With PTSD

Sumner Bemis in Iraq.
Credit Courtesy photo

In 1999, Lisa and Sumner Bemis met at a bar during a Penguins hockey game. She was intrigued by his unusual name, “and the fact that he had a Camaro," recalled Lisa.

"I loved muscle cars, " she said, "so it worked.”

Less than three years later they were married. After the Sept. 11 terror attacks happened Sumner was deployed as part of the National Guard and was in Iraq from 2005-2006. When he returned, Lisa was overjoyed to have him back. But she said he was a different person.

Read more
Veterans' Stories: Project 412
3:30 am
Tue November 4, 2014

Tom Jones: Reflecting On His Time Of Service

Former member of the U.S. Navy Tom Jones, front center.
Credit Courtesy photo

Tom Jones served aboard amphibious assault ships for the U.S. Navy during the Battle of Okinawa during World War II.

As 18 and 19 year olds, Jones said he thinks he was too young and inexperienced to be scared.

“I think being young at that time, it was just an experience," he said. "You don’t realize exactly what is going on until you get a lot older and reflect back on those situations you were in.”

Read more
Arts & Culture
3:30 am
Fri October 31, 2014

Duane Michaels Exhibit Covers Six Decades of Work from McKeesport-Raised Photographer

Duane Michals
Deanna Garcia 90.5 WESA

Photographer Duane Michals grew up in McKeesport, but it was a trip to Russia that prompted his foray into photography.

"So going to Russia, I figured I should take pictures, so I borrowed a camera," said Michals. "Though I did take a course in photography, I didn't even own a camera. And I didn't take a light meter because I thought if I owned a light meter that meant I was officially a photographer, and that would have been intimidating ... if I had never gone to Russia, I never would have been a photographer, it literally changed my life."

Read more
Veterans' Stories: Project 412
3:30 am
Tue October 28, 2014

Amanda Haines: Growing Up In The Marine Corps

Former U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Amanda Haines
Credit Courtesy photo

Amanda Haines served in Iraq as an intelligence analyst for the Marine Corps from 2003-2008. She rose to the rank of sergeant.

By the time she was deployed to Fallujah, the larger conflicts were over, and she says she was there to work with the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.

Haines joined the military the summer after she graduated high school. From learning to manage finances to dealing with being away from home, Haines said she grew up in the Marine Corps.

Read more
Veterans' Stories: Project 412
3:30 am
Tue October 21, 2014

Shawn Jones: Helping Fellow Soldiers Succeed

Former U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Shawn Jones.
Credit Courtesy photo

 

Shawn Jones was a paratrooper and instructor with the U.S. Army from 2001 until he received a medical discharge in 2012. As he rose to the rank of staff sergeant, Jones says his leadership gave him the soldiers who were at risk of being discharged.
 
“They gave him to me because they were going to kick him out,” he said.

His favorite memories of his service were when those soldiers changed their attitudes and climbed the ranks.

As for regrets, Jones says he learned the value of time. He didn’t accomplish some of his goals.

Read more
Arts & Culture
3:30 am
Wed October 15, 2014

Unseen Warhol Films To Be Brought To Life Friday With Live Music

Musician Eleanor Friedberger, with an unseen color Edie Sedgwick screen test in the background, rehearses at the Andy Warhol museum for Friday's performance.
Credit Brian Siewiorek

Back in the late '60s, Andy Warhol would frequently ask artists like the Velvet Underground to perform live as he projected his films. The practice nearly died with the artist, but it's being resurrected in Pittsburgh this week.

Musicians will perform live scores Friday for 15 Warhol films that experts are calling “unseen.”

“Warhol shot a lot of film and he probably looked at it, put it away,” said Geralyn Huxley, curator of film and video for the Andy Warhol Museum. “Certainly they were never publicly screened that we know of.” 

Read more
Veterans' Stories: Project 412
3:30 am
Tue October 14, 2014

Amy Mattila: Finding An 'Open Door' In Military Service

Former U.S. Army Captain Amy Mattila.
Credit Courtesy photo

Amy Mattila was an occupational therapist at Walter Reed Hospital while in the U.S. Army from 2005-2011. Mattila, who rose to the rank of captain, says having the opportunity to treat injured soldiers coming back from Iraq at the height of the conflict changed who she is today.

Mattila now teaches occupational therapy at Chatham University. Her experience at Walter Reed has come full circle, she says, as she now connects her students to past patients for community service work.

Read more
Science and Technology
7:30 am
Fri October 10, 2014

Following An Online Dust-Up, Science Center And Others See A Conversation Starter

This April 8, 2014 photo shows the Carnegie Science Center at the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers in downtown Pittsburgh.
Credit AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

A recent story about the disparity in Boy and Girl Scouts course offerings at the Carnegie Science Center caught fire online. The outrage was made all the more contentious because the seemingly single course offered for Girl Scouts centered on creating beauty products.

Read more
Veterans' Stories: Project 412
3:30 am
Tue October 7, 2014

Ben Keen: 'You Have To Keep Moving And Keep Pushing Forward'

Former U.S. Army Sergeant E-5 Ben Keen.
Credit Courtesy photo

Ben Keen served in the U.S. Army from 1999-2008 and rose to the rank of Sergeant E-5.

While serving in Iraq he learned the leadership skills that helped him launch Steel City Vets, a support group for post-9/11 veterans.

Read more
Veterans' Stories: Project 412
3:30 am
Tue October 7, 2014

Theo Collins: Shedding Light On Veteran Suicide With Documentary Film

Former U.S. Marine Theo Collins.
Credit Courtesy photo

Theo Collins served six years with the Marine Corps, including a tour in Afghanistan.

Toward the end of his career he worked with Wounded Warriors, assisting injured veterans to events. After his time of service, Collins joined a fellow marine he met in Afghanistan on "Project 22," a documentary looking at veteran suicide.

Read more
Veterans' Stories: Project 412
3:30 am
Tue October 7, 2014

Chris Mohnke: Learning To Be A Leader In The Coast Guard

Former U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant junior grade Chris Mohnke.
Credit Courtesy photo

Chris Mohnke, a graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, left the Coast Guard earlier this year as a Lieutenant junior grade after five years of service.

He learned to be a leader, met his best friends in the Coast Guard.

“It’s hard to gauge how much the service has changed me as a person because up until very recently my entire adult life has been in the Coast Guard,” he said.

Read more
Veterans' Stories: Project 412
3:30 am
Tue October 7, 2014

John Stakeley: Service Felt 'More Important Than Anything I’ve Done In My Life'

Former U.S. Army Reserve Captain John Stakeley (left).
Credit Courtesy photo

John Stakeley served with the Army National Guard for 13 and a half years,  and for the last three years as a Captain with the U.S. Army Reserves.

While he didn’t have one defining moment, Stakeley said the Army established a trust and a bond he hasn’t experienced anywhere else. He said that was especially true when he was deployed to Iraq in 2005.

Read more
Environment
3:30 am
Tue September 23, 2014

Beyond Killing Trees, Emerald Ash Borer May Leave Lasting Impression

Dead and dying ash trees can be seen while looking upon the landscape in Schenley Park in Pittsburgh.
Credit Chris Squier / 90.5 WESA

The Emerald Ash Borer has all but wiped out ash trees in and around the Pittsburgh region, and even though the insect only goes after one tree species, the effects will be felt on a much wider scale.

Pretty soon you won’t be able to tell dead trees from live trees as leaves begin to fall. For now, as you’re driving around Pennsylvania, you can look out over stands of trees and see lush, green landscape – but – that landscape is dotted in many areas with dead trees.

Read more
Arts & Culture
12:21 pm
Mon September 22, 2014

Two Musicals Trace The Life of Roberto Clemente

Two musicals are currently exploring the life of Pittsburgh Pirates legend Roberto Clemente.
Credit The Associated Press

Roberto Clemente died on Dec. 31, 1972, but you’d never know it from the hundreds of people who show up to Pirates games wearing jerseys with his name and number — 21 — printed on them. 

Now two musicals will trace the life of "The Great One" from his childhood in Puerto Rico to his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates from the mid-50’s to his untimely death at age 38.

Composer Alki Steriopoulous to spend nearly a decade writing a musical about Clemente.

It's called "21."

Read more
Environment & Energy
3:30 am
Thu September 11, 2014

Inside the Halls of Government, Gas Industry Makes its Pitch

In the Pennsylvania Senate.
Credit Reid R. Frazier / The Allegheny Front

Greg Vitali has been a state representative for more than 20 years. He saw the rise of the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania mainly through the lens of the state Capitol. About five or six years ago, he says, lobbyists for the industry began showing up. And they’ve never left.

“Drillers have this constant presence in Harrisburg  You go to any committee meeting, related to drilling, you see representatives from American Petroleum Institute, you see lobbyists from Range Resources,” Vitali says. “They’re just always here.”

Read more
Environment & Energy
3:30 am
Wed September 10, 2014

Moratorium Discussions at DCNR Raise Questions

Pipeline clearing for Marcellus Shale development in Tiadaghton State Forest in 2011.
Credit Reid R. Frazier / The Allegheny Front

In February, Governor Tom Corbett announced his intention to balance the state budget, in part, using millions of dollars in projected revenues from new oil-and-gas drilling leases in state parks and forests. It was the first public acknowledgment of Corbett’s plans to lift a 2010 moratorium on leasing.

But records uncovered in an investigation by 90.5 WESA and the Allegheny Front suggest the issue may have been under active discussion much earlier.

Read more
Environment & Energy
3:30 am
Tue September 9, 2014

DCNR Ex-Chief's Calendar Shows Gaps

Fracking operations in Tiadaghton State Forest in 2011.
Credit Martha Rial / Special to 90.5 WESA / The Allegheny Front

As the agency that oversees 2.5-million acres of public land in Pennsylvania formed policy on drilling in state forests, the agency's head met frequently with oil and gas lobbyists in the capitol, including stops at upscale restaurants.

That's according to the calendar of Richard Allan, former Secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR).

Read more
Environment & Energy
3:30 am
Mon September 8, 2014

Flooding the Zone: Gas Industry Pours Millions into Lobbying PA

The Pennsylvania Capitol building.
Credit Wally Gobetz / via Flickr Creative Commons

Barry Kauffman sees similarities between the oil and gas business and the business of ‘government relations’--lobbying.

In fracking, gas companies inject water, sand and chemicals underground to extract gas. In politics, Kaufmann says, you use campaign contributions and lobbying money, “inject it under high pressure under the legislature, to extract public policy, from which you profit. The two processes are actually very much parallel,” says Kauffman, executive director of Common Cause Pennsylvania, a non-partisan, non-profit government watchdog group.

Read more
Sophie Masloff, 1917-2014
5:17 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

Family, Friends and Others Celebrate Sophie Masloff's Life

Family, friends, faith leaders and elected officials gathered at Temple Sinai in Squirrel Hill Tuesday to say goodbye to former Pittsburgh Mayor Sophie Masloff. She was remembered for her love of the city, and her grandmotherly, yet tough demeanor.

Sophie Masloff’s casket, draped with an American flag, was carried past mourners as the congregation sang “America the Beautiful.”

Read more
Community
3:30 am
Wed August 13, 2014

Can the Nonprofit August Wilson Center Also Be a Commercial Hotel?

The future of the August Wilson Center for African American Culture is an open question.
Credit Chris Squier / 90.5 WESA

Whether a cultural center can also be a hotel is one of the questions at the heart of the fight over the August Wilson Center for African American Culture.

This week a group of foundations made a case for their $7.2 million bid to buy and maintain the center as it is. A hotel developer, bidding $9.5 million, believes the two entities can co-exist.

Read more
Behavioral Health
3:30 am
Tue August 12, 2014

What Makes You Scratch That Itch? New Research Aims To Find Out

Junichi Hachisuka at the University of Pittsburgh prepares the spine of a genetically modified mouse for itch-related experiments.
Credit Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

Poison ivy, bug bites, allergies — just hearing those words can make you want to scratch. But even though we all itch, and we all scratch, we don’t know very much about what is happening in our brains when we do so.

New work by researchers, including one in Pittsburgh, is attempting to figure it out.

Read more
Science & Technology
3:30 am
Thu August 7, 2014

This CMU App Watches Boring Video So You Don't Have To

Skip to the good part: algorithm scours hours of dull video to find the most interesting bits.
Credit courtesy LiveLight

Say you have a large volume of digital video — hours of nanny-cam footage, perhaps, or a wedding reception.

And it’s boring, deadly boring. 

But suppose that, somewhere on that tape, something interesting does happen. Maybe it's just five seconds’ worth of attention-worthy images, buried under a mountain of redundant and predictable ones.

Read more
Life of Learning
3:30 am
Tue August 5, 2014

CMU, Google Team Up To Improve Online Education

Carnegie Mellon University and Google are teaming up to make Massive Open Online Courses more engaging.
Credit Mathieu Plourde / Flickr

There are more than 7 million students around the world enrolled in some 12,000 Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, with topics ranging from oil and acrylic painting techniques to developmental artificial intelligence.

But, MOOCs aren’t your typical online classes. They’re free; they don’t go towards earning a degree; and, rarely are there assignments, but therein lies the problem.

Read more
Business
8:13 am
Fri August 1, 2014

A Business Idea Incubator For Felons, By Felons

Zer068 founder Daniel Bull
Credit Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

Zer068 is an identifying number for convicts from the 3rd District of Pennsylvania who go to federal prison.

It’s also the name of a fledgling company.

Founder Daniel Bull is trying to walk the line between honesty about his past and giving himself and others a second chance.

Zer068 has been created specifically to help people with felonies or crimes, a past they would like to forget, overcome that past," Bull said. "We get it, we’re there, we understand what you’re about and we’re here to help.”

Read more

Pages