Local Headlines

Important stories from the Pittsburgh region.

Joaquin Gonzalez / 90.5 WESA

When Dave Carver, pastor at the First United Presbyterian Church in Crafton Heights, first came to the church 35 years ago, he immediately noticed something.

“The neighborhood was filled with children and teenagers and there was not any programming, ” Carver remembered.

So, he decided to do something about it.

He started a street hockey league in 1983 that revealed lots of enthusiasm for youth recreation in the area, and in 1987, he took the next step by starting an organization called The Open Door.

Keith Srakocic / AP

It's been a busy week for the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority. A consultant found PWSA to be “a failed organization atop a dangerous and crumbling structure” in an initial assessment presented Monday. Hours later, the authority issued a flush-and-boil water order for 18,000 homes across the North Side, Millvale and Reserve Township related to holes in the cover on top of a water reservoir in Shaler Township.

Jeff White / AP

Two Penn State professors have received $300,000 from the National Science Foundation to develop technology that will enable digital devices to weed out fake news.

The university says information sciences and technology professor Dongwon Lee and communications professor S. Shyam Sundar are working on the project.

Lee says fake news "has been around for decades" but has been "exacerbated" on the internet and social media platforms.

Daniel / Flickr

A small-town Pennsylvania police chief is drawing fire for an internal memo telling his officers to stop making so many traffic stops because of too many resident complaints.

Midland police Chief Keith McCarthy still wants his officers to stop suspected drunken drivers and others suspected of more serious offenses, but asked them to "stop traffic stops significantly." He warned officers who don't will be scheduled for fewer hours.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Despite reports of improvement in recent days, Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium officials said Wednesday morning that the facility’s baby elephant has been euthanized.

“Our hearts are broken, it’s just devastating,” said Pittsburgh Zoo president and CEO Barbara Baker in a press release. “She touched so many people in such a short time. We did everything we possibly could to care for her, but unfortunately in the end, it just wasn’t enough.”

David J. Phillip / AP

Six airmen skilled in securing and re-establishing cellphone and satellite communications are on their way to help with Tropical Storm Harvey recovery in the Houston area.

The Wolf administration said Tuesday the members of the 193rd Special Operations Wing departed on a C-130 transport plane for Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio.

They're based at Harrisburg International Airport in Middletown, Pennsylvania.

Officials say they don't know how long the team will be helping out in Texas after being activated by the National Guard Bureau.

Joe Shlabotnik / Flickr

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority issued a precautionary flush and boil advisory Monday night for city neighborhoods north of the Allegheny River, as well as Millvale and Reserve Township.

David J. Phillip / AP

Volunteers and rescue workers from the Pittsburgh area are making their way south to help flood victims in Texas.

Courtesy of Rochel Tombosky

Rochel Tombosky was born in California, but she and her parents moved to Squirrel Hill to become a part of the Jewish community there.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Officials at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium say a baby elephant's appetite is improving following insertion of a feeding tube to help it gain much-needed weight.

Zoo spokesperson Tracy Gray said the still-unnamed female calf is taking in more food through the tube "and she's also taking more bottles."

On Saturday, the zoo posted on a blog devoted to the elephant that the baby had taken a short walk "and we're beginning to see her feisty personality return."

Mary Altaffer / AP

A former Pennsylvania police officer who was found unconscious of an apparent overdose at the station has been charged with stealing drugs seized as evidence and hammering a hole in the wall of the secured evidence room.

Former Johnstown officer William Slisz was arraigned Thursday on charges including burglary and evidence tampering.

State police say Slisz began stealing heroin from a temporary evidence locker in 2015 and later stole from the secure room. They say he then lost access to the room and crawled through the ceiling into a colleague's office to get the key.

AP

Last weekend, during a protest near Pittsburgh’s Bakery Square, several people online questioned the legality of a man openly carrying a rifle on a public city corner. According to Pennsylvania firearms laws, however, it’s perfectly legal.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

Pittsburgh isn’t the worst place for bed bugs in the U.S., but it did make a list of the country’s top offenders, according to Terminix.

The extermination company released a list of the top cities for bed bugs based on the volume of service requests for the first half of the year.

Pittsburgh ranked No. 12, just below Philadelphia, which ranked No. 10 on the list. However, you don't have to travel far to find the worst city for bed bugs: Cleveland, Ohio.

Jared Wickerham / AP

The National Park Service has restored a family cemetery that just happens to lie within the Flight 93 National Memorial, which honors those killed on the hijacked airliner that crashed in western Pennsylvania during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The cemetery belongs to the Sorber family, who buried relatives there from 1856 to 1892.

The park service says it has straightened headstones, landscaped and cleaned up the small cemetery, and fenced it in. The park service will offer tours of the fixed up cemetery on Tuesday.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

UPDATE: Pittsburgh Zoo officials said Friday that the elephant calf is doing well after surgery and was moving around. She is currently using a feeding tube to get one pint of formula and officials said her GI tract was functioning normally. She is also taking a bottle of milk from Nan, a lactating elephant also at the zoo.

Earlier Version:  

Pittsburgh Zoo officials announced Wednesday that the facility’s baby elephant's health is flagging, and that the next 24 to 48 hours will be critical.

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

Jill Evans grew up in Beltzhoover. She remembers a community where neighbors looked out for each other.

Drew Wilburne / Department of Aging

The oldest known living person in the United States is celebrating her 114th birthday in Pennsylvania.

The state Aging Department says Delphine Gibson hit the milestone Thursday, getting a personal greeting from the governor.

Matt Rourke / AP

The Confederate monuments at Gettysburg National Military Park will not be removed from the battlefield, according to officials with the National Park Service.

U.S. Air Force

A Vietnam War veteran has finally received medals for his service after 45 years of waiting.

Francis McKenna was presented with the National Defense Service Medal, the Air Force Good Conduct Medal, the Air Force Longevity Service Award, the Vietnam Service Medal and a Vietnam Gallantry cross during a ceremony in Tarentum, about 20 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, according to The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

R. Baer and S Kovac / Citizen CATE Experiment via AP

A Pennsylvania school district says children won't be let outside for recess during the Aug. 21 solar eclipse because of the potential harm to students who look at the sun.

The Cumberland Valley School District sent a letter to parents Monday saying the decision was made after consulting the district's physician.

The letter says district officials recognize that the opportunity to view an eclipse is rare, but the safety of students is more important.

NASA officials recommend viewing the eclipse through specially-made glasses to prevent eye damage.

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

You might call the neighborhood of Regent Square a "border town" of sorts. It straddles the lines between the city of Pittsburgh and the eastern boroughs of Edgewood, Swissvale and Wilkinsburg.

In fact, the border between Pittsburgh and Swissvale runs directly through the home of Pat DiRienzo. Like many houses in Regent Square, DiRienzo’s sits on a quiet, shady street where tufts of grass spring up between the bricks used to pave the roads.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

A cancer patient says a Southwest Airlines employee went above and beyond to help track down her missing luggage that contained important medication.

Stacy Hurt says she called customer service July 23 at Pittsburgh International Airport after her luggage failed to arrive on a flight from Nashville.

She was panicking because the bag contained medication that helps her with the side effects of chemo for her colon cancer. It also had sentimental items like a rosary and a lucky T-shirt. She was worried it wouldn't arrive in time for her chemotherapy appointment the next day.

Google Maps

A state police forensics unit has searched the former home of a Pennsylvania woman who's been missing since 1989.

Sunbury police Chief Tim Miller announced in June that the investigation had been reopened when crews were seen removing concrete from a home in Milton.

On Wednesday night, the state police accompanied Sunbury police to a home in that town where Barbara Miller once lived.

Miller was 30 when she attended a wedding in Milton in June 1989 and was never seen again.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Eighteen members of a SWAT team are OK after they were exposed to a deadly chemical during a raid early Wednesday, Pittsburgh police said.

As the SWAT team entered the West End home, a table covered with powered drugs was overturned, sending what authorities believed to be a dangerous synthetic opioid called fentanyl wafting into the air, according to a criminal complaint.

Google Maps

Pittsburgh police say they've taken two juveniles into custody for throwing rocks onto vehicles from an overpass above Route 65.

Several vehicles called 911 to report their cars being hit with rocks or other items about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday.

One motorist says cars were forced to slow down because of a broom left in one lane of travel. It's not immediately clear if the youths who threw the rocks also threw the broom or placed it there so cars would slow down and become easier targets.

WPXI / via AP

Most of approximately 1,000 displaced Bedford County residents were allowed to return to their homes this weekend after a train derailed last week and caught fire.

Tests on air quality led the railroad company CSX, an incident management team and environmental specialists to decide that it was safe to reduce the evacuation zone to a limited area immediately surrounding the derailment site in Hyndman, about 100 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, a CSX spokesman said Saturday.

U.S. Department of Education / Flickr

The American Civil Liberties Union is again threatening to sue a Pennsylvania school district for allegedly failing to enroll refugees as students.

The ACLU in February sent a warning letter to the Harrisburg Area School District on behalf of four students. The district enrolled the students in March.

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

When Kelly Day moved to Brighton Heights about 10 years ago, she began to notice something -- a large income disparity between neighborhood residents. 

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.

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