Local Headlines

Important stories from the Pittsburgh region.

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.

Honoring Dr. Thomas Starzl, A Medical Pioneer

Mar 10, 2017
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.

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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.

Town Halls Are Becoming Increasingly Contentious

Feb 24, 2017
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.

Centre County Correctional Facility / AP

One of Jerry Sandusky's sons was arrested Monday on multiple sexual offense charges involving children, more than five years after the former Penn State assistant coach was himself first arrested.

Jeffrey S. Sandusky, 41, a stalwart supporter who attended many of his father's court proceedings, was charged with 14 counts, according to court records. He was jailed on $200,000 bail.

His defense lawyer, Lance Marshall, declined to comment on the allegations.

PixController via Youtube

High winds have taken down power lines in Pittsburgh and also knocked down a tree that was home to an eagle's nest.

The Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania has a camera that live streams video of the nest. But on Monday morning, all the camera was showing was the downed tree where the nest had been.

Winds that gusted up to 60 mph Sunday knocked over the tree at about 9:45 p.m.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

A Washington County funeral director is expected in court April 21, charged with stealing $340,000 from elderly clients.

A criminal complaint against Lynn Taucher of the Taucher Funeral Home in Burgettstown alleges theft of amounts ranging from $600 to $11,000 from 49 individuals. 

Pennsylvania law requires that money pre-paid for funerals go into a special, individual escrow account.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

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 the unveiling of Gov. Tom Wolf's 2017-18 budget, political challengers to Mayor Peduto in the May primary and the investigation of cheating and misconduct at the Pennsylvania State Police Academy.

Bring Martin Home / Facebook

Martin Esquivel-Hernandez, a Pittsburgh man who received local and national attention for his immigration case, has been deported after eight months in prison.

Esquivel-Hernandez, originally of Mexico, had been held by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement since May 2016. His wife and three children, the youngest of whom is an American citizen, will remain in Pittsburgh.

Did Linens Cause The Mold Outbreaks At UPMC?

Feb 3, 2017
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. They’ll go behind the headlines taking an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region.

This week's topics include a discussion about the water issues that required roughly 100,000 city residents to boil their tap water before drinking. We'll get the details on an investigation into mold on linens supplied to UPMC. Also, our Harrisburg reporters will discuss the consolidation of state health agencies and preview Gov. Tom Wolf's state budget address. 

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Police Chief Scott Schubert isn't acting anymore.

The Brookline resident took over Friday as police chief of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, pending approval from City Council.

NBC

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.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

To make the move to its new space, the Animal Rescue League paraded dogs, wagons full of cats and even a snake two blocks down Hamilton Avenue in Homewood Monday.  

Chief Executive Officer Dan Rossi said the old, smaller facility was always over capacity.

KEITH SRAKOCIC / 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 behind the headlines for an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region. 

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