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Open Streets PGH / Facebook

 

Pittsburghers can explore parts of Downtown, Lawrenceville and the Strip District unimpeded by cars on Sunday for the summer's first Open Streets event.

Vehicle traffic will be barred for a 3.5-mile stretch of Penn Avenue and Butler Street from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., but drivers will be able to cross at several intersections. Last year, about 44,000 people took part in three block parties combined.   

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council members heard testimony from local residents Tuesday on a bill that would ban the use of exotic animals in performances within city limits.

Ron Gongaware, 57, of White Oak is a member of the local Syria Shriners group based in Cheswick. He said the legislation would effectively end his organization’s Shrine Circus, which has been raising money locally for free children’s hospital services since about 1950. 

“And that circus is our biggest fundraiser we have, so the ban of those exotic animals would be a tragedy for us,” Gongaware said.

In a five-year affordable housing strategy announced Monday, state government officials said they’ll invest Medicaid funding into affordable housing programs over the next five years.

Virginia Alvino / 90.5 WESA

Don Mahaney is the reigning king of North Side Sandwich Week. He's the owner of Scratch Food and Beverage, whose Reuben sandwich was voted the best of the North Side in 2015.

The fifth annual North Side Sandwich Week kicked off Tuesday at his restaurant, and this year, it has an added mission.

Christine Wagner / Flickr

 

After bringing in more than $1 million Tuesday, Pittsburgh’s annual Day of Giving was halted early.

Nick Amoscato / Flickr

About 800 organizations are asking for donations Tuesday as part of Pittsburgh’s annual Day of Giving.

Now in its seventh year, the day-long call to altruism traditionally included as much as $750,000 in match money from the Pittsburgh Foundation.

But with so many organizations now involved, as the foundation told the Pittsburgh City Paper, that money is stretched too thin.

Colton Point State Park / dcnr.state.pa.us

Bicyclists exploring northern Pennsylvania’s scenery along Route 6, the state’s longest highway segment, can soon expect changes.

This month, PennDOT will collaborate with the departments of Conservation and Natural Resources and of Community and Economic Development to find ways to make the route safer and more accessible for bike riders. 

daveynin / Flickr

Federal programs are capitalizing on training and development for veterans re-entering an already booming workforce.

But despite the options, Eric Eversole, president and senior advisor of the national Hiring Our Heroes initiative, said it can still be tough for former service men and women to find a meaningful career

Virginia Alvino / 90.5 WESA

At a hearing Thursday, the Affordable Housing Task Force presented its recommendations to protect low-income housing options in Pittsburgh to City Council members.

Port Authority of Allegheny County

After thousands of public transit riders clamored for an easier-to-use system, the Port Authority of Allegheny County is now poised to get rid of its multi-zone fare structure.

A Friday morning board vote will decide whether the authority will adopt a flat fare system for 2017.

For now, riders pay $2.50 for each bus trip, and they have to pay an extra $1.25 if their routes cross the boundaries of PAT’s inner and outer zones.

If the changes go through, zones would be a thing of the past.

Tom Wolf / Twitter

  

Nearly 250 million Americans have the right to vote, but many don't exercise it.

University of Pittsburgh Professor Victoria Shineman said there are plenty of reasons for that.

"Voter registration is one of the biggest barriers, especially for initial participation," she said. "A lot of states have deadlines well before the actual election. A lot of people miss that deadline. Also things if you move, if you change your address, remembering to update your address."

Virginia Alvino / 90.5 WESA

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream fame, said they’ve been constituents of Vermont Senator, and Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders for more than three decades.

Now they’re campaigning across the country on his behalf, and giving away ice cream along the way.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Government representatives from Pittsburgh and nearby municipalities will meet Thursday for the Congress of Neighboring Communities' annual legislative session, during which leaders will discuss ongoing regional problems.

Kristen Michaels, the executive director of the group, said the event is unique because, unlike many inter-governmental sessions, this one involves the City of Pittsburgh.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation Sunday to legalize medical marijuana in Pennsylvania, ending a nearly two-year effort to approve use of the drug. 

Pennsylvania is now the 24th state to make it legal.

Dr. Loren Robinson, Deputy Secretary for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, said it will take up to 24 months to implement the program.

“This includes the process of finding and setting up the growers and distributors, setting up dispensaries and identifying and certifying patients and providers in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Robinson said.

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

Local officials joined U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) on Friday in calling on Congress to approve funding for grants that would help municipal police departments fight terrorism locally.

While the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee did approve a bill in February to formally authorize the eight-month-old Office of Community Partnerships in the Department of Homeland Security, the committee declined to pass the accompanying language that would allow the office to give grants to municipalities, nonprofits and universities.

xMizLitx / Flickr

For attorney Aimee Zundel, Pittsburgh Public Schools' student policies need to serve the needs of all students.

"Particularly our at-risk populations and students that are more susceptible to not feeling safe within the school for example,” Zundel said. 

Zundel is working with the district, and its policy committee, to craft a plan to outline specific rights for transgender students. 

Virginia Alvino / 90.5 WESA

Dozens of service workers, students and families protested outside a McDonald's restaurant on Pittsburgh’s North Side Thursday.

William Boas led the crowd in chants by megaphone. 

He said fast food jobs aren't just for teenagers. 

“This McDonald's right here is open 24 hours a day," Boas said. "We don’t have to be the smartest people in the world to know that it takes adults to run that store. Right now, it’s a Thursday morning. Kids are in school.” 

Flickr user jrgcastro

Josh Malloy, 25, lives in East Liberty with his little brother and said his $12.50 per hour salary makes it difficult to keep up with the cost of living. 

Allegheny County Treasurer's Office

Summer U.S. Open accommodations in Oakmont will include at least a 7 percent hotel occupancy tax, thanks to an ordinance passed by Allegheny County Council last month that allows online booking agents like Airbnb and Homeaway to collect and transfer the long-sought after fees.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

While the South Side maybe known for its bar crawls, this Sunday it will also be the site of the second annual church crawl. Nine churches from South Side’s faith community will offer free, guided tours of their buildings to anyone interested in learning about each church's history, artwork and faith.

Sharon Sobol, the event organizer, said South Side residents have a strong connection with their churches.

Mike Groll / AP

Hillary Clinton is making her first Pennsylvania stop of the election cycle. The presidential hopeful will visit Carnegie Melon University on Wednesday. 

Keith Srakocic / AP Images

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is calling for an audit of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, which oversees the city’s finances, after an investigation by The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review found that nearly all of the authority’s records have been destroyed.

The YMCA will close its Hazelwood center at the end of the 2016 school year, but the organization still plans on increasing its role in the community.

Beginning this summer, the YMCA will use a decentralized delivery model, where it will work with partners in Hazelwood to offer activities for kids at more accessible locations. 

Kevin Bolding, chief operating officer for the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh, said the closure is important because the Hazelwood center's programs will not be limited to a specific facility anymore.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders is the first candidate of either party to visit Pittsburgh this election cycle. About 8,500 people filled the Downtown convention center to hear the Vermont senator give his usual stump addressing affordable education and accountability on Wall Street.

But Sanders visit to the Steel City appeared to have one strong focus: “Together we are going to rebuild the trade union movement in this country.”

Charles Rex Arbogast / AP

It's a great day, better than a Steelers game.

That's the message Braddock Mayor and U.S. senatorial candidate John Fetterman shared with scores of fans and supporters flocking to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center early Thursday for Bernie Sanders' first Pittsburgh campaign stop.

Wikimedia Commons

Drug-related deaths are usually ruled accidental.

But one Pennsylvania coroner said he's ruling some overdoses homicides. Lycoming County Coroner Charles Kiessling said he’s not the first in Pennsylvania to interpret toxicology reports in that way and that it's legal. 

Drug-related deaths are on the rise in Pennsylvania - the state saw more than 2,700 in 2014. That's an increase of 13 percent from the year before. Among all overdoses, heroin is the most frequently identified drug. 

University of Wisconsin

Premature deaths and infant mortality rates are dropping as Allegheny County continues to improve in health rankings statewide.

That’s according to an annual study conducted by the University of Wisconsin looking at the overall health of all U.S. counties.

Allegheny County ranked 26th among Pennsylvania’s 67 counties and has climbed steadily for the last five years. Philadelphia County ranked last, though nearby Chester County came in as the healthiest in the state.

birmingham.otmapgh.org

The second phase of the Birmingham Bridge Complex Preservation Project started this morning, with work conducted on the southbound side. 

The northbound side underwent construction in the project’s first phase in 2015. The adjustments include repainting, light pole replacements and concrete and deck resurfacing.

Steve Cowan, PennDOT spokesman, said the $28.5 million preservation project will bring the bridge to where it needs to be.

Virginia Alvino / 90.5 WESA

Hundreds of residents filled South Avenue United Methodist Church in Wilkinsburg on Saturday to talk about crime and community development following Thursday's shooting that killed five people, including a pregnant woman.

Among community members and leaders was Michael Walker, whose son, Jerry Shelton, died in the mass shooting.

“My son was my oldest," Walker told the crowd. "He was a good man. A good, caring and loving man.”