Local Headlines

Important stories from the Pittsburgh region.

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

Matt Nemeth / 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 for a behind-the-headlines look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region.

This week on The Confluence, panelists discuss affordable and accessible housing in Pittsburgh. We mark the launch of The Caucus, a new print newspaper taking an in-depth look at the state government in Harrisburg. And we talk to long-time Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Jack Kelly, whose final column appeared last Sunday.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

 

Snow advisories could spell trouble for commuters on both ends of Pennsylvania.

National Weather Service advisories for Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania predict 1 to 2 inches in and around Pittsburgh, with 3 to 5 inches forecast for counties east and south of the city. A similar advisory is projecting 1 to 3 inches in and around Philadelphia.

But it's the timing of the advisories that could cause trouble.

The western advisory runs from noon Thursday until 7 a.m. Friday with snow possibly snarling the Thursday evening rush hour.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

 

Pennsylvania's most northwestern county could be hit with 14 inches of lake-effect snow by Friday.

The National Weather Service expects 10 to 14 inches of snow to fall in Erie County between 5 p.m. Wednesday and 4 p.m. Friday. The county borders Lake Erie and southwestern New York.

The lake-effect snow advisory says the storm will also carry winds of 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 45 mph.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Otis, a 10-foot-long, 450-pound North American alligator rested his head against the cool exterior of his well-heated indoor pen.

It’s where he vacations each winter when it’s too cold to stay outdoors at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. Otis summers in a pond inside Kids Kingdom and moving him to the reptile building just behind the elephant exhibit takes up to 12 people and some serious muscle, once they get him inside his crate.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Six-year-old Anaiah Newman and her mother Connie make time to hand out toiletries to children at the Center for Hope in Ambridge. But Anaiah said she felt it was unfair that she had fun bath time supplies at home, while those children got boring grown-up stuff.

“She talked about this for days. So, I said, ‘let’s go to the store,’ and we went to the dollar store and got some stuff,” said Connie. “Made some bags and donated them. She just got addicted to doing them.”

Pittsburgh Journalists Discuss The Year's Top News Stories

Dec 30, 2016
Megan Harris / 90

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

Sarah E Schneider / 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 go behind the headlines taking an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region. 

Notorious 86-Year-Old Jewel Thief Strikes Again

Dec 16, 2016
John Bazemore / AP

 

An 86-year-old jewel thief who has kept jewelry sellers on their toes since the 1970s has struck again, police say - this time by slipping a $2,000 diamond necklace into her pocket.

Joshua Ganderson / Flickr

Power has been restored to a suburban Pittsburgh borough after three transformer explosions left its 3,000 residents without power for more than six hours in frigid temperatures.

Pitcairn is about 15 miles east of Pittsburgh and lost power about 3 a.m. Thursday.

Although Duquesne Light supplies electricity to Pitcairn, a borough-run company distributes it to residents. Duquesne Light restored the power and Pitcairn officials say residents were back in service by about 9:30 a.m.

Google Maps

 

Authorities say a western Pennsylvania businessman has been charged with harboring and transporting people who weren't legally in the country and who worked at his restaurants.

Federal prosecutors said a two-count federal grand jury indictment unsealed Monday names 44-year-old Xing Zheng Lin, also known as Steve Lin.

Authorities allege that from about 2009 until January 2014, the McKees Rocks resident harbored and transported people who weren't legally in the country and who worked at Saga Restaurant in Monroeville, Robinson and Bethel Park.

Don Wright / AP

 

 

An appeals court has cleared the way for refiling of a lawsuit against an engineering firm in the deaths of four people killed in flash flooding in Pittsburgh more than five years ago.

A judge earlier dismissed claims against Chester Engineers Inc., which acted as the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority's consulting engineer and construction manager.

Jill Stein 2016

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 we’ll address the status of the recount request by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein. StateImpact PA reporters join us for a look at gas drilling in the commonwealth. We’ll open a reporter’s notebook to get the story behind the story of the Pittsburgh Legionnaires’ outbreak. We’ll also mark the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. 

Ephrata Police Department / Facebook

 

A Pennsylvania police department says a black cat was lucky for one of its officers tracking down a fugitive.

The Ephrata Police Department posted on its Facebook page that officers were searching for Jonathan Michael Steffy last month over an outstanding bench warrant.

PA Game Commission

 

A mother bear and three cubs have been found dead in a Pennsylvania church parking lot.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission calls the deaths of the sow and the cubs "highly suspicious" and is seeking information.

Wildlife conservation officers responded Tuesday to a report of dead bears in the parking lot of St. Monica's Church in West Wyoming. They discovered a nearly 300-pound female bear and the cubs.

The bears showed no signs of bullet wounds or external trauma.

Google Maps

 

Police are investigating allegedly Satanic graffiti spray-painted onto a central Pennsylvania church.

The vandalism included the digits "666" and upside-down crosses sprayed on the cupola above the roof of the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Lancaster County's Manheim Township, about 40 miles southeast of Harrisburg.

The graffiti was discovered Sunday afternoon.

Pastor Michael Rogers said the church has never experienced anything like this. It appeared to be the work of "somebody stupid with something to get out of their system," he said.

Federal Bureau of Prisons

 

Federal prosecutors say an inmate's killing of a guard at a federal prison in Pennsylvania was a calculated slaying that saw the suspect pause to chew a piece of gum he took from the dying man's pocket.

Federal prosecutors detailed the attack in court documents filed Monday, arguing that a jury should see surveillance video showing the 9-minute attack, and 22-minute aftermath in which guard Eric Williams lay dying before other guards arrived.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

 

Police in the Pittsburgh suburbs have charged an Uber driver with indecent assault and harassment for allegedly making unwanted sexual advances toward a female passenger.

Ross Township police are charging 46-year-old Jehad Abdula Makhoul by summons, so online court records don't list an attorney for him.

The woman reported the incident Nov. 22 after she contacted the ride-sharing serving for a ride to a restaurant that evening.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

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

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Jenni Broskey is bundled in a black hoodie at the back of a chilly warehouse on Pittsburgh’s North Side. She’s folding and bagging more than 200 newspapers, and she’s about to lose her job.

Red Kettle Goal Grows In Western PA

Nov 24, 2016
Salvation Army USA West / Flickr

While a few bell ringers have already hit the streets before Thanksgiving, the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign kicks into high gear Black Friday, as volunteers brave the crowds in an effort to get a jump start on a record-setting fundraising goal.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

 

Gov. Tom Wolf has signed a bill into law that expands the list of firearms permitted for hunting in Pennsylvania to include semi-automatic rifles and handguns.

The new law doesn't make semi-automatic weapons legal for hunting in time for the upcoming firearm deer season, which begins Monday.

Semi-automatic firearms discharge one shot for each pull of the trigger. The next cartridge is automatically pushed into the firing chamber.

Carolyn Kaster / AP Photo

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is typically the busiest travel day for the holiday, though Pennsylvania Turnpike officials said Tuesday was projected to be the busiest day for holiday travel on the roadway.

Nearly 3.5 million drivers are expected to use the Turnpike through Sunday.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

 

The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium has received the American Humane Association’s Humane Conservation Program certification, an award doled out to only a handful of animal institutions nationwide.

Independent auditors spent four days this summer evaluating the critters, including their standard of living, physical well-being and a consistently happy report with zookeepers.

“Of which all of our keepers do, because they really love their animals,” said Tracy Gray, manager of media and public relations for the zoo. 

Judge Delays Plea Ruling In Franklin Regional Stabbings

Nov 21, 2016
Keith Srakocic / AP

 

*UPDATED: 4:34 p.m.

A teen charged with slashing and stabbing 20 fellow students and a security guard at a Pennsylvania high school is guilty but was mentally ill during the April 2014 rampage, his defense attorney said again Monday.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Richard Spear has breakfast in the Mercy Hospital cafeteria five days a week. He eats there before heading up to the eighth floor to visit with oncology patients.

“I go in and introduce myself to the patients,” he said. “And a lot of times they spill their heart out to me. Unfortunately for me, I get close to a lot of these people and sometimes it makes it very difficult.”

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Despite the projected temperatures in the 70s Friday evening, city officials say Pittsburgh’s 56th annual Light Up Night will still feel like a “winter wonderland.”

Confronting The Challenges Facing U.S. Municipalities

Nov 18, 2016
Brian Siewiorek / 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 we'll look at some of the environmental issues impacting the region including the detection of methane leaks under the streets. Also, municipal leaders from across the country are in Pittsburgh for the National League of Cities conference. Our guests will fill us in on the topics the conference is addressing. We'll also discuss U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania David Hickton's tenure now that he has announced his resignation.  

Jared Wickerham / AP

 

The wife of a police officer slain the line of duty says he was "the best friend anyone could ever ask for," was adored by their four children and was always chasing "bigger dreams."

Gene J. Puskar / AP

 

The first of two days of funeral home visitation are set to begin for a western Pennsylvania police officer slain in the line of duty.

The visitation for Canonsburg Officer Scott Bashioum is from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday and Tuesday at the Beinhauer Funeral Home in Peters Township. His funeral is Wednesday at noon at the Church of the Covenant in Washington, Pennsylvania.

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