Local Headlines

Important stories from the Pittsburgh region.

Bruce Smith / AP

Authorities in western Pennsylvania say a construction crew found a cache of buried cannonballs at the site of an old civil war arsenal in Pittsburgh.

Public safety officials say the crew found about 20 cannonballs Monday at the site in the Lawrenceville neighborhood.

The police bomb squad responded to the scene but decided to allow the construction company's subcontractor to remove the cannonballs.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

A Pittsburgh nonprofit wants to replace the controversial black and yellow Sprint sign on Mt. Washington with a Hollywood-style letter sign.

Scenic Pittsburgh sent a letter to Louisiana-based Lamar Advertising, which owns the 7,200-square-foot billboard, asking them to donate or sell the property to the organization. Lamar is in a legal battle with the city of Pittsburgh, which claims the company is violating zoning regulations.

Verdict Turns Page In Penn State Child Molestation Scandal

Mar 27, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

Penn State is trying to turn the corner on the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal, but the former FBI director who authored a scathing report on it more than four years ago says more changes are needed, even after the conviction of the university's former president.

A jury's guilty verdict against Graham Spanier on Friday to a misdemeanor count of child endangerment made him the last of the three former high-ranking administrators to be held criminally culpable for how they handled a 2001 complaint about Sandusky sexually abusing a boy in a team shower.

Matt Rourke / AP

Jurors deliberating in the child endangerment trial of former Penn State president Graham Spanier have asked to rehear excerpts from the transcript of testimony.

The panel on Friday reheard the testimony of Jack Raykovitz, who headed the charity for at-risk children founded by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

Raykovitz said then-athletic director Tim Curley told him a 2001 complaint about Sandusky showering with a boy was investigated and no wrongdoing was found, but Sandusky was told he couldn't bring children to university athletic facilities any longer.

Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s weekly news program.

Each week reporters, editors and bloggers join veteran journalist and host Kevin Gavin to take an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region.

Jury Gets Case In Trial Of Penn State's Ex-President

Mar 23, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

Attorneys for Penn State ex-President Graham Spanier on Thursday declined to call any witnesses to counter accusations that he acted illegally in handling a 2001 complaint about Jerry Sandusky showering with a boy, sending the case to jurors for deliberation.

Prosecutor: Not Reporting Jerry Sandusky Let Pure Evil 'Run Wild'

Mar 21, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

The failure of Penn State's former president to report child molestation accusations against Jerry Sandusky allowed evil "to run wild," prosecutors said Tuesday at the start of Graham Spanier's trial. A defense attorney accused prosecutors of trying to "criminalize a judgment call."

Opening statements got underway in the long-delayed criminal trial against Spanier, who faces felony charges of child endangerment and conspiracy for how he handled a 2001 report that the former assistant football coach had abused a boy in a team shower.

Paul Sableman / Flickr

A pop-up lab on Liberty Avenue could play a key role in the street’s future. Life on Liberty is an initiative created by Envision Downtown to gather input about one of the city’s busiest streets.

Jury Selection Begins In Penn State Ex-President's Trial

Mar 20, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

Jury selection began Monday in the trial of Penn State's former president on charges that he put children at risk by mishandling child sex abuse complaints about retired assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

Evan Vucci / AP

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s weekly news program.

Each week reporters, editors and bloggers join veteran journalist and host Kevin Gavin to take an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region.

This week's topics include how President Donald Trump's budget could impact the commonwealth. NPR political editor Domenico Montanaro joins us in studio for a wide-ranging conversation about covering elections and the role of journalists of holding people in power accountable. And, as enrollments and the number of high school graduates in Pennsylvania decline, we'll discuss how the state universities are coping with these challenges. 

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Public safety officials in Pittsburgh have announced plans to bring back a mounted police unit to help patrol the western Pennsylvania city.

The department said Wednesday that it was in the "early phases" of re-establishing the mounted unit after a 14-year absence to patrol the entertainment districts and for numerous special events.

Several full-time officers will be part of the unit in the special deployment division and others will serve as needed.

Brian Siewiorek / 90.5 WESA

A big blast of winter weather is expected to blanket much of the Northeast in heavy snow just days before the official start of spring.

The National Weather Service in Pittsburgh has issued a winter weather advisory for Pittsburgh, with 3 to 6 inches of snow expected after 8 p.m. Monday. Areas outside of Pittsburgh, including the surrounding counties and parts of West Virginia, could see 4 to 8 inches. The advisory is expected to remain in effect until 11 p.m. Tuesday night.

Refugee Resettlement Already Winding Down In Some Pennsylvania Cities

Mar 10, 2017
Emily Previti / WITF

Imad Ghajar and his wife Marwa Hilani were born in Aleppo, Syria, met there, and didn't have plans to leave.

Then the war happened.

"Even in the schools, there wasn't security," Marwa, 37, said recently, through a translator, at her family's new home in Lancaster. "In the middle of the day, there would be a bomb, and someone would die. The area was not safe ever."

The dust from the explosions also made their daughter's asthma worse, and it was increasingly difficult and dangerous to get her treatment.

University of Pittsburgh

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s weekly news program.

Each week reporters, editors and bloggers join veteran journalist and host Kevin Gavin to take an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region.

This week's stories include a look back on the career of medical pioneer Dr. Thomas Starzl, known as the "father of transplantation," who passed away last Saturday. Transportation continues to be a major issue in the region. We'll discover the latest plans to better connect the counties. And in our final segment, we'll get updates on the mayoral primary, Wilkinsburg a year after a tragic shooting and the Mon-Fayette Expressway.

Google Maps

Three teenagers have delivered an anonymous apology note and $50 to the Pennsylvania library where they sprayed a swastika using shaving cream in a parking lot.

The teens left the envelope containing the note and the money in a book depository at the Exeter Community Library. Police and firefighters were called to wash away the graffiti on Friday. The envelope was found by library workers on Monday.

The teens' note says they are "three stupid teenagers apologizing for our heinous acts."

The teens go on to say that they didn't intend to offend or hurt anyone.

Chris Sloan / Flickr

 

The Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown has agreed to take more steps to protect children from sexual abuse. 

Defense Firm Claims Exec & Former Owners To Blame For Humvee Fraud

Mar 6, 2017
Manu Brabo / AP

A Pennsylvania defense contractor said two brothers who formerly owned the company, and their former chief financial officer, are to blame for an alleged $6 million scheme to overcharge the Defense Department for Humvee window kits.

Ibis Tek LLC, of Butler, issued a statement Sunday night saying the business was sold last month to a group of independent investors.

The investors' statement said former co-owners Thomas Buckner, 67, of Gibsonia, and John Buckner, 65, of Lyndora, were removed as directors of the company in January, along with former CFO Harry Kramer.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s weekly news program.

Each week reporters, editors and bloggers join veteran journalist and host Kevin Gavin to take an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region.

This week’s topics include a look at what could happen in Pennsylvania if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. We'll discuss the contract negotiations between Mayor Bill Peduto and the Fraternal Order of Police. Also, we'll look at plans to get funding to repair Pennsylvania's bridges and roads.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

March is coming in like a lion for most of Pennsylvania, with severe weather moving across the state and bringing everything from tornado warnings and hail to flash-flood watches and thunderstorms.

Judge Rules Bill Cosby Case To Be Decided By Outside Jury

Feb 27, 2017
Bill Fraser/Bucks County Courrier Times / via AP Pool

 A jury from outside the Philadelphia suburbs will be brought in to decide the sexual assault case against Bill Cosby, a judge ruled Monday, rejecting a defense request to move the trial itself because of worldwide media reports that brand the actor a "serial rapist."

Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill said jurors will remain sequestered during Cosby's June trial on charges that he drugged and molested a former Temple University employee in 2004.

Headstones Vandalized At Jewish Cemetery In Philadelphia

Feb 27, 2017

Philadelphia police say approximately 100 headstones have been damaged at a Jewish cemetery in the northeastern part of the city. The vandalism occurred less than a week after a similar episode in a Jewish cemetery near St. Louis, where more than 150 graves were targeted.

Port Authority of Allegheny County

A white man convicted of throwing a black man onto the downtown Pittsburgh Wood Street T-station tracks has been sentenced to three years in federal prison. 

It is the first federal hate crime to be prosecuted in the region.

Ryan Kyle, 23, of Brentwood, was sentenced to three years in prison, a sentence that will run concurrently with his state prison term for the same assault.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s weekly news program.

Each week reporters, editors and bloggers join veteran journalist and host Kevin Gavin to take an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region.

This week’s topics include the recent nationwide rise in constituent-led town halls; interfaith support for, and the economic impact of, Pittsburgh’s immigrant residents; and bills proposed to combat the commonwealth’s opioid epidemic.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The Sprout Fund is collaborating with city and county leaders to help young black men build digital literacy skills and find jobs.

The City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and the Sprout Fund will partner together as part of the national My Brother’s Keeper initiative to connect organizations that work with youth to help close the digital divide and prepare men of color between the ages of 16 and 24 for the workforce.

Hitcher / Flickr

Authorities say a trench collapse at Fitz Henry and Reduction roads in Westmoreland County killed a man working at the site on Wednesday.

The county coroner's office said 18-year-old Adam Skokut Jr., who graduated from Yough Senior High School last spring, was installing a sewer pipe at the South Huntingdon Township property at about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday when the trench began to fill with water.

He tried to escape but fell back into the nine-foot-deep trench, and the side walls collapsed, trapping him beneath tons of dirt.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

The 7,200-square-foot yellow Sprint advertisement along Mt. Washington was deemed unlawful by the City of Pittsburgh’s Zoning Board of Adjustments last week. The city is now insisting the sign be removed.

Interest In Small Game Hunting Dwindling Locally

Feb 21, 2017
Torrey Wiley / Flickr

Small game hunting can be a big challenge.

Some small game species have become scarce and so have hunters who like chasing after them.

Results from the California Hill Gun Club's 23 annual "Small Game Hunting Classic" held in mid-January offered a pretty clear reflection of the state of small game hunting in Pennsylvania.

About 150 hunters used to take part in the event in which cash prizes are awarded to teams that returned with the most rabbits and grouse, but this year's classic drew only 73 hunters.

PixController via YouTube

Pittsburgh's pair of bald eagles apparently have a new egg a week after their nest was lost when the tree was toppled by high winds.

After losing the nest Feb. 12, the pair started to build a new nest near the old one in a tree on a hill overlooking the Monongahela River.

The Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania said Monday that without a clear view of the new nest from a webcam, observers have deduced the presence of an egg by the birds' behavior.

Alan Diaz / AP

The Confluence – where the news comes together is 90.5 WESA’s weekly news program.

Each week reporters, editors and bloggers join veteran journalist, and host, Kevin Gavin. They’ll go behind the headlines taking an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region.

This week's topics include Ford Motor Company  investing $1 billion into Pittsburgh company Argo AI. We'll discuss a reports recommendations for helping children in the juvenile justice system. Discover which politicians in the state took in the most PAC money in 2015-16 and another medical malpractice suit, regarding fungal infections, has been filed against UPMC.

Chris Stalnaker / 90.5 WESA

About 100 local immigrants and supporters gathered in Beechview Thursday morning to protest the policies of President Donald Trump and show solidarity with their neighbors.

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