Local Headlines

Important stories from the Pittsburgh region.

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.


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.

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.