Identity & Justice

The identity and justice desk explores how the makeup of the Pittsburgh community is changing, and digs into issues of diversity and equity.

Saint Monica prayed for her rebellious son, Saint Augustine, to strengthen his faith in the late 4th century. Now four parishes in Beaver County want to strengthen their faith community by merging into one — christened Saint Monica.

Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese Bishop David Zubik has announced that the parishes of Christ the Divine Teacher, Divine Mercy, Saint Philomena and Saint Rose of Lima will consolidate starting July 15.

Episcopal Vicar Reverend Samuel Esposito said the parishes had been working together since 2007.

Senior citizens are being targeted in the latest over-the-phone scam.

The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office has issued a warning to seniors after a recent spike in “robocalls.”

These robocalls are designed to obtain credit card and other personal information from unknowing victims by claiming to sell medical equipment like life monitors for $35 a month. In recent calls, companies identified themselves as “Senior Medical Alert” or “Senior Medical Advisors.”

Reid Carter/90.5 WESA

90.5 WESA Programming intern Reid Carter ventured down to Point State Park Friday evening to catch some photos of the official re-launch of the iconic fountain.

WESA

In her new book Urban Alchemy: Restoring Joy in America's Sorted Out Cities, Dr. Mindy Fullilove presents a psychiatrist’s views on how to fix the American city. We'll discuss how a public health and well-being approach to urban planning and design can benefit neighborhoods and the people who live in them.

Welcoming Back the Point State Park Fountain

Jun 6, 2013
Image by Pressley Associates, courtesy Riverlife

It's been four years since the fountain in Point State Park was last in operation. The fountain and the Park were in constant use, without any renovations for more than 30 years, until Pittsburgh's 250th anniversary. The reopening of the fountain marks the final phase of a 6 year renovation process, which has been documented on the Riverlife Taskforce Blog with before and after photos.

The waterworks resume this weekend, just in time for the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival.

Guest: Lisa Schroeder is President and Chief Executive Officer of Riverlife Pittsburgh a group that's promoting the rebirth of Point State Park and the fountain.

Courtesy Riverlife

After years of reconstruction, the fountain at the Point will be turned back on this Friday.

Since April 2009, Point State Park has undergone a $35 million renovation, including $9.6 million for the fountain makeover.

Point State Park's history goes back decades, with planning for the space beginning in the 1930s. Construction didn’t start until the 1960s, and the original fountain opened in 1974.

Image by Pressley Associates, courtesy Riverlife

After four years, the Point State Park fountain is ready to flow again, but some Pittsburghers won’t be getting as close as they had hoped.

The Great Lawn, located on the fountain side of the Portal Bridge, will be fenced off and closed to the public Friday night during the celebration at the opening of the Three Rivers Arts Festival.

Bridges Around the State Evaluated by PennDOT

Jun 4, 2013
jeffrybt / flickr

In the wake of the deadly bridge collapse in Washington, interest has increased in the current condition and safety of Pennsylvania’s bridges. With the average age of bridges on the state system well over 50, PennDOT must evaluate the numerous bridges and consider the needs and costs of the state infrastructure.   According the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Allegheny County has 2,247 bridges yet many of them are categorized as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.

Haldan Kirsch / WESA

When Pittsburgh's food trucks hit the road, burgers, hot dogs, tacos and pierogies are all on the menu.

Standing Your Ground in Pennsylvania

May 31, 2013
University of Pittsburgh Law School

The killing of Florida teen Trayvon Martin brought attention to stand your ground laws last year. A number of states have laws which dramatically expand the definition of self defense, often including personal property. So what do the self defense laws look like here in Pennsylvania? University of Pittsburgh Law Professor David Harris is currently part of an American Bar Association National Task Force on stand your ground laws, looking into their overall impact on society.

Michael Lynch / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County held a pep rally in the courtyard of the County Courthouse Friday in anticipation of the Penguins facing off against the Boston Bruins Saturday in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The rally had a carnival-like atmosphere with games, prizes, face paintings, Penguins-themed sugar cookies and performances from Pittsburgh musicians Freddie Nelson and the Kardasz Brothers. WDVE’s Val Porter hosted the event and pulled people on stage to participate in contests for best-dressed Penguins fan, best Penguins cheer, best Penguins sign and best player look-alike.

Pets are usually thought of in terms of cats or dogs, but one woman is hoping to bring chickens into the mix here in Pittsburgh.

Jody Noble feeds six chickens in her Highland Park backyard — Gregory Peck, Buffy the Worm-Slayer, Attila the Hen, Mother Clucker, Hillary Rodham Chicken and Margaret Hatcher. Noble is hoping to spread the joy of chicken ownership by organizing the 3rd Annual Chicks-in-the-Hood: Pittsburgh Urban Chicken Coop Tour.

An asthmatic child in Latin American village gasps for air, struggling to breath. The mother has gotten her son to a medical clinic where she knows the life saving medicine is stored, but she has to endure an agonizing wait as another child gets treatment from the only nebulizer machine in the district.

In the meantime, thousands of the machines that aspirate the liquid medication for inhalation sit on shelves in southwestern Pennsylvania, gathering dust never to be used again. 

90.5 WESA Weekend Watch 6/1 & 6/2

May 31, 2013

The Mattress Factory presents "Art Lab: Sculpting with Light." Stop by for a hands-on show dedicated to showing how artist James Turrell  “sculpts with light.” Participants will create their own slides to project and explore the process of making art with a fabulously elusive material. The Art Lab runs this Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Mattress Factory lobby on Pittsburgh’s North Side.

Albert Lynn / WESA

Since the repeal of Pennsylvania's helmet law there has been an increase in motorcycle deaths. There has also been a doubling of motorcycle registrations. Rep. Dan Frankel has introduced legislation that would again require motorcyclists to wear helmets. Charles Umbenhauer, lobbyist for the group Alliance of Bikers Aimed Toward Education of Pennsylvania feels helmets should be a choice.

Should vacant buildings in Homewood be renovated or demolished? How about other Pittsburgh neighborhoods with blight? Tim Stevens, CEO and chairman of the Black Political Empowerment Project, has called for many of the buildings to be refurbished by workers enrolled in training programs rather than continuing with demolition.  They're now gathering community input on what to do with vacant buildings. C. Matthew Hawkins, adjunct faculty member in the School of Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh, recently wrote about the idea of a moratorium in Homewood and the Hill District.

What do you think of the potential moratorium on demolition in poor communities requested of Pittsburgh city council?

Touring Historic Homes in Observatory Hill

May 30, 2013
observatoryhill.net

Observatory Hill is a neighborhood just past Pittsburgh’s North Shore, on the eastern rim of Riverview Park. It’s named for its most prominent landmark, the Allegheny Observatory, part of the University of Pittsburgh. Like many Pittsburgh neighborhoods, the area boasts a range of architectural home styles from the first half of the 20th century. Many have been beautifully restored. Each year, members of the Observatory Hill community open their homes for a historic house tour. It's one of several in the city of Pittsburgh and serves as part community fundraiser, part history lesson and part renovation inspiration.

United Way of Allegheny County Breaks $33 Million

May 29, 2013

The United Way of Allegheny County filled a ballroom in a downtown hotel Wednesday with supporters and then announced it exceeded its 2012 fundraising goal. The total from the campaign hit $33,211,190, which is 2.7 percent more than last year’s total.

“Our record over the last five years prior to this year is that our community, the Pittsburgh community, has out raised the rest of the nation,” said local United Way President Bob Nelkin. “During that period of time we went up 12.7 percent. The rest of the big United Ways in the nation were down 4.4 percent.”

Two very different Pittsburgh icons are finding common ground in an insect.

The Carnegie Science Center and Phipps Conservatory are teaming up to host Butterfly Weekend, a two-day event that will give the public a chance to learn about the butterfly’s life cycle and natural habitat.

Susan Zimecki, director of marketing and community affairs at the Carnegie Science Center, points to a film as the inspiration behind the event.

The third year of the Pittsburgh Youth Civic Leadership Academy (YCLA) is now accepting applications. The three-week program allows city high school students to get an immersion experience in city government.

“I’m very excited; it’s what I wanted and I’m getting it,” said Clara Prom Burns, reacting to news that the 31st Bridge in Pittsburgh will be renamed to honor her brother.

Gov. Tom Corbett signed legislation Thursday to designate that span over the Allegheny River as the “William Raymond Prom Memorial Bridge,” the first bridge in Pittsburgh named for a Vietnam War hero.

The parents of a 2-year-old boy who was fatally mauled after falling into a wild African dogs exhibit last fall have sued the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, claiming officials had ample warning that parents routinely lifted children onto a rail overlooking the exhibit so they could see better.

The lawsuit filed Thursday on behalf of Jason and Elizabeth Derkosh seeks unspecified damages in the Nov. 4 death of their son, Maddox. The boy fell from a wooden railing after his mother lifted him up to get a better look at the painted dogs.

B-PEP, the Black Political Empowerment Project, held a news conference Wednesday morning in Homewood to announce that the group has asked the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County for a moratorium on the demolition of structures in black communities. 

B-PEP member William Anderson said the rapid demolition of properties that could easily be rehabbed is the beginning of gentrification that will force Homewood residents out.   

Pittsburgh-Based Charity Helps in Oklahoma

May 21, 2013

A Pittsburgh-based charity better known for working in Third World countries is lending a hand in Oklahoma in the wake of Monday's devastating tornado.

“Because of the magnitude, Brother’s Brother really felt a need to respond,” said Liam Carstens, Brother’s Brother Foundation Vice President for Medical Programs.  

Heather McClain / WESA

Two weeks ago Hofbrauhaus in the South Side agreed to pay $15.6 million in a settlement after one of their patrons consumed copious amounts of alcohol and proceeded to kill a seven year old girl while driving drunk down Carson Street. When a bar patron has too much to drink resulting in an accident who is ultimately at fault? And when it comes to serving drinks, how do you know when a patron has had too much. How do you handle the situation?

Farmers markets are opening all over the region with fresh, wholesome and affordable produce, and there are efforts to make sure everyone is able to share in the bounty.  

Ken Regal, Executive Director of Just Harvest, said the 160,000 residents of Allegheny County on Food Stamps have often been unable to use them at farmers markets because vendors usually only accept cash. 

This year, however, Just Harvest will staff kiosks at two Citiparks farmers markets where Food Stamps, as well as commercial debit and credit cards, can be used to buy tokens.  

A federal grand jury has indicted a former Pittsburgh-area priest on a charge of possessing child pornography.

The one-count indictment against David Dzermejko of Braddock for “possession of material depicting the sexual exploitation of a minor” was unsealed Friday.

The indictment alleges that “on or about January 11, 2013, Dzermejko possessed visual depictions, namely, still images in computer graphics files, the production of which involved the use of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct.”

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

For the next few weeks, law enforcement officials throughout the commonwealth will be stepping up enforcement of the state’s seat belt law. It’s an effort to get more people to buckle up.

90.5 WESA

The Pennsylvania Associated Press Broadcasters Association has announced the winning stations in the 2012 Pennsylvania Associated Press News Awards contest.

The awards, which were presented at a PAPBA banquet over the weekend in Harrisburg, recognize outstanding broadcast journalism efforts by AP member radio and television stations, cable television and networks in Pennsylvania.

An empty lot in the Wilson neighborhood of Clairton will be transformed into a playground this weekend.

More than 200 volunteers will gather in Clairton Saturday to build a playground designed entirely by local children.

Volunteers from the Clairton Fire Department, the Unity Group of Clairton, local residents and organizers from KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit, are getting together to build the playground in just one day.

Wayde Killmeyer, superintendent of the Clairton City School District, said the new playground is long overdue.

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