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Important stories from the Pittsburgh region.

Patrick Semansky / AP, file

About 1,000 residents of a small Pennsylvania town spent the night in area hotels following a freight train derailment and fire that forced their evacuation.

Bedford County public safety crews and workers from CSX, the train's owner, helped residents in Hyndman retrieve pets and prescription medicines after they were ordered out of their homes Wednesday. Hyndman is about 100 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

At least 32 rail cars derailed, some containing hazardous materials.

It is still a young tradition, but since 2015, Kraft Heinz Co. and the NHL have taken annual submissions from communities across the U.S. — written pleas arguing why their small town's ice rink deserves to be crowned Kraft Hockeyville USA.

The honor — which includes $150,000 in money for rink renovations and the opportunity to host an official NHL preseason game — is bestowed upon the community that best demonstrates its passion for hockey.

PA Internet News Service

A drug ring that sold nearly $10 million worth of heroin and cocaine in Altoona and Johnstown is no longer operating following a bust on Monday.

Police arrested 16 people as part the “Dragon Heroin Pipeline,” which officials say were running drugs from Philadelphia to Blair and Cambria counties.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

A large granite stone fell from the corner of the historic Frick Building in downtown Pittsburgh early Sunday morning, crashing into the crosswalk below.

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

Allen Lane was born in 1965, and grew up on Murtland Street in Homewood, just down the road from Westinghouse High School. Back then, more than 30,000 people lived in the single square mile that comprises Homewood.

Lane recalled a vibrant, prosperous neighborhood in his youth.

"There were businesses in Homewood, so you didn’t have to walk too far from your job," Lane said. "There was employment in Homewood."

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Robert Pugh says he doesn't like coming back to the area of Pennsylvania that still gives him "goosebumps" 15 years after he and eight other miners were rescued after spending more than three days trapped in a flooded mine.

But he made an exception over the weekend and returned to the Quecreek Mine site for the first time in a decade to see fellow miners and community members — and especially to thank those who had a role in saving his life.

"I want to see some people who rescued me, a lot of people who prayed for me and guys I haven't seen for a long time," he said.

Retired Priest Accused Of Forcing Boy To Perform Oral Sex

Jul 25, 2017
Gene J. Puskar / AP

A now-retired Roman Catholic priest was charged Monday with forcing a 10-year-old Pennsylvania boy to perform oral sex on him while counseling the fourth-grader about misbehaving on a school bus.

The state attorney general's office accused the Rev. John Thomas Sweeney of committing felony involuntary deviate sexual intercourse at St. Margaret Mary Elementary School in Lower Burrell during the 1991-92 school year.

Northside Food Pantry

It was the holiday season of 2012 when Central North Side resident Jana Thompson first asked her neighbor, Darlene Rushing, to join her in volunteering at the Northside Food Pantry.

Rushing agreed, and came in to help on the pantry’s last day of operation before closing for the holidays.
 

Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro plans to announce criminal sexual abuse charges against a western Pennsylvania priest.

Shapiro's office says he'll be in Lower Burrell to announce the charges this afternoon.

It wasn't immediately clear if the priest serves at a parish in that area, and the priest has yet to be identified. Lower Burrell is about 25 miles northeast of Pittsburgh and is located in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Greensburg.

Brad Bower/Matt Rourke / AP

Two ex-Penn State administrators have begun the work-release portion of their jail sentences on child endangerment convictions stemming from the Jerry Sandusky investigation.

Centre County jail officials tell Pennlive.com that former vice president Gary Schultz and former athletic director Tim Curley surrendered Saturday and spent time in hard cells before moving to dormitory-like soft cells for work release Wednesday.

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A former hospital staffer has acknowledged to lying about cancer tests to 124 patients he tested at Penn State Hershey Medical Center.

Sixty-two-year-old Floyd Benko pleaded guilty Wednesday in Harrisburg federal court to false statement charges. The U.S. Attorney's office says Benko lied to patients about following standard operating procedures in regard to genetic tests.

The gene mutation tests are designed to help doctors tailor cancer treatments. Prosecutors say Benko failed to preform mandatory steps in the tests and lied about them.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Calling the case "an American tragedy," a federal judge has sentenced a heroin dealer to serve more than two decades in prison for his role in the overdose death of a 20-year-old Pennsylvania man.

Allyson Ruggieri / 90.5 WESA

Walk into Pittsburgh's East End location of the Humane Animal Rescue and you'll feel dozens of eyes on you. The shelter is currently overflowing with an influx of stray cats. 

"It's definitely kitty season," Ashley Burk, the shelter's manager of public relations, said. "It just really has to do with the fact that if there are strays on the street, they're not spayed or neutered. It's really easy for cats to get pregnant, have those kittens and then just continue to multiply."

They are an open door facility that does not turn away any animals.

Bobby Allyn / WHYY

More than 1,000 people gathered for a candlelight vigil in Yardley on Sunday evening to remember the lives of four young Bucks County men found buried at a 90-acre family farm, days after prosecutors charged two cousins with murder for allegedly carrying out the acts.

As the sun fell over the crowd at the Garden of Reflection 9/11 Memorial, Ellen Saracini called for harmony amid the despair.

People, she said, have an uncanny ability to spring back from unspeakable tragedies. Saracini lost her husband, a pilot, in the Sept. 11 attacks.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

An overflowing stream following heavy rain toppled a large bronze statue at architect Frank Lloyd Wright's iconic Fallingwater house in Pennsylvania, officials said.

The flooding early Saturday from Bear Run, which flows beneath the National Historic Landmark in Fayette County, toppled a tree that hit a wall and apparently dislodged the "Mother and Child" statue from its place, said Director Lynda Waggoner, of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

The interior of the home wasn't damaged.

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny Commons, Pittsburgh’s oldest park, is a bit like a green oasis amid the bustling streets of the North Side. The sounds of the streets press in from all sides, but a walk down the park’s tree-lined promenade can provide a small measure of respite from the hectic reality of city life.

It’s also a crossroads in the North Side, situated at the junction of three neighborhoods: Allegheny West, East Allegheny and Allegheny Center.

East Allegheny resident Lynn Glorieux seems to know -- and love -- every square inch of it.

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

Robert Bowden grew up in the Hill District, watching his mother struggle to move her family from a housing project into a nicer neighborhood.

 

Later on, as a young man, Bowden said he was “just a typical guy on a corner.” He had never considered college, and held a job as the janitor at a jewelry store. Bowden said his attitude changed after an incident during one of his breaks on the job.

 

Papers Reveal Grisly Confession In Slayings Of Missing Pennsylvania Men

Jul 14, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

*UPDATED: July 14, 2017 at 4:22 p.m.

A pot dealer gave police a grisly account of killing four men on his family's Pennsylvania farm, saying he crushed one of them with a backhoe after shooting him and tried to set three of the bodies on fire in the same metal bin, according to court papers filed Friday.

FBI: Buried Body Is Fugitive Accused In Saxonburg Police Chief Slaying

Jul 14, 2017
FBI via AP, file

*UPDATED: July 14, 2017 at 4:47 p.m.

A decades-long search for a fugitive charged in the 1980 killing of a Pennsylvania police chief came to a dramatic end Friday as authorities positively identified remains found buried in a Massachusetts yard as the man they have long suspected in the fatal shooting.

Human Remains Found In Search For Missing Men, 1 Victim ID'd

Jul 13, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

Investigators found the body of one of four missing young men Wednesday night, along with other human remains, buried deep in a common grave on a Pennsylvania farm. They vowed to "bring each and every one of these lost boys home to their families, one way or another."

Cosby Fan Gets Hearing After Allegedly Recording Trial's End

Jul 12, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

Court officials in Montgomery County have set a hearing for a woman described as a fan of Bill Cosby who allegedly recorded the defense's closing arguments in the entertainer's criminal trial last month.

Anitra Burrows, 37, of Collegeville, will appear before President Judge Thomas DelRicci in a 9:30 contempt of court hearing Thursday in Norristown, according to a scheduling order filed by the court.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania State Police are searching for a crash victim who stole the pickup truck of a Good Samaritan who stopped to help him.

Police don't know the crash victim's name, saying only that he smashed into a guide rail on Interstate 79 near the Carnegie exit. When the pickup driver pulled over to help him, police say the crash victim jumped into the man's pickup and drove off, dragging the pickup drive about 100 feet before the man released or fell off the vehicle.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Every morning, the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium’s new 177-pound baby African elephant takes a stroll through the grounds.

“She knocks over the trash cans, she knocks over any signs she can find,” said Willie Theison, elephant program manager at the Pittsburgh Zoo. “She just thinks she’s the baddest little girl.”

Hershey Fire Department / Twitter

An Independence Day fireworks show at one of Pennsylvania's most popular amusement parks ended early after the show sparked a brush fire on a hillside near the fireworks launch area.

The Hershey Fire Department tweeted a picture of the blaze Tuesday night.

Fire officials say the fire started about 15 minutes into the display at Hersheypark. Although the fire was quickly brought under control, the rest of the display was canceled.

Nobody was hurt.

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Man In 'Right Spot' At The 'Right Time' To Save Leechburg Fire Chief's Life

Jul 3, 2017
Jon Dawson / Flickr

John Fiorina wasn't going to stay for the fireworks show at the Leechburg Volunteer Fire Company's annual carnival. In fact, he was getting ready to go home.

His back was hurting, a culmination of working nonstop at the carnival's Chuck-a-luck wheel, standing on concrete all week and being on his feet at work earlier in the day.

"I said to the guys and the girl with me, 'You know, when these fireworks start, I'm going home,'" the 50-year-old Leechburg resident said.

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The Pennsylvania Department of Education is delaying the certification of a high school principal accused of threatening a student who recorded the incident, while the department investigates his fitness of character.

An attorney for Woodland Hills principal Kevin Murray says he's spoken to state education officials and expects the certification to be approved in a few weeks.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Some lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf took a break from budget negotiations Wednesday to sign a high-profile package of bills into law.

They significantly overhauled the commonwealth’s animal rights legislation, and included a measure that has brought a lot of attention to the issue in the past year: Libre’s Law.

The bill signing saw more fanfare—and barking—than most.

Diocese of Allentown / Facebook

Pope Francis decided to stay close when selecting a new leader of the Allentown Roman Catholic Diocese.

The pope on Tuesday appointed Monsignor Alfred Schlert as the fifth bishop of Allentown. Schlert is the first priest from the diocese to be appointed to lead it.

The 55-year-old has been serving as the diocesan administrator since the pope named his predecessor the bishop of Rockville Centre, New York. He said his experience in the area will help as he takes on the new role.

Why Is Pennsylvania Called A Commonwealth?

Jun 27, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

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