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News

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Hundreds of activists, community organizers and progressive elected officials from around the country are meeting in Pittsburgh this weekend. 

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

It’s been 200 years since Pittsburgh’s first mayor, Ebenezer Denny, was sworn into office on July 9, 1816, and on Saturday, his great-great-great-great-great-grandson Harmar Denny IV will join hundreds of other descendants of 50 former mayors to celebrate Pittsburgh’s bicentennial.

In total, 470 people related to former mayors will be in attendance.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Norfolk Southern blasted loose boulders Wednesday from a Mt. Washington hillside that were threatening to tumble onto its railroad tracks and a busy city road below. 

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Attendance is up at Anthrocon, a conference boasting the world's largest convergence of human-like animal characters, now celebrating its 20th year.

Gov. Tom Wolf Administration

  Local historians are creating an online database chronicling Pittsburgh’s disability history.

The Western Pennsylvania Disability History and Action Consortium was created to centralize legislation, photos, videos and equipment belonging to state agencies. It’ll also provide information and a tool for advocacy groups, organizers said.  

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Memories Sportsman Shop & Taxidermy Studio has occupied the same small storefront in Sharpsburg since 1990. Owner Sam Stelitano said since the mass shooting at an Orlando night club, he's seen more customers walk through his door.

Tony Urbanek, 46, is a regular at the store. He said he bought his first gun for self-protection when he was young.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Two men ambushed a backyard cookout near Pittsburgh, killing a pregnant woman, her 8-month-old fetus and four other adults, because they wanted retribution for the 2013 slaying of a friend, authorities said Thursday.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Performing arts organizations in Pittsburgh can now access updated assistance technology to offer to patrons who have hearing or visual disabilities.

The devices are available to any of the organizations that are a part of the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council and were purchased with a $14,000 grant from the Allegheny Regional Asset District.

Jackie / Flickr

A federal grant will give $3.4 million to help Allegheny County residents remove lead from their homes.

It's part of $46.5 million being doled out by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development aimed at reducing lead exposure in more than 3,000 homes, 200 of which are in Allegheny County.  

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

It’s a standardized testing day at Miller African-Centered Academy in the Hill District. But before one class of third graders starts the Pennsylvania System of School Assessments, Kathy Flynn-Somerville turns off the lights and has them just listen. She teaches them calmness strategies like being quiet, present and taking deep breaths.

But students aren’t the only ones employing these mindfulness strategies in the classroom. 

Oregon Dept. of Transportation / Flickr

Water used for drinking and preparing food at Pittsburgh Public Schools is now being tested for lead.

The Allegheny County Health Department will work with Pittsburgh Public Schools and local water authorities to pinpoint and shut-off dangerous outlets throughout the 70 district facilities. All testing will take place this summer.

Even though there is no federal or state law requiring drinking water to be tested for lead, Pittsburgh Public Schools Chief Operations Officer Ronald Joseph said district officials want to take a proactive approach.

Emily Stock / 90.5 WESA

Thursday is the first day of the U.S. Open, one of golf’s biggest championships. Most of the world’s best male golfers, professionals and amateurs alike, are in the Pittsburgh area to compete.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Public Schools board members said they met with new superintendent Anthony Hamlet, a former Florida educator, on Monday to discuss inconsistencies in his resume and accusations of plagiarism.

Phelan M. Ebenhack / AP

 

A gunman opened fire at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., early Sunday, killing at least 50 people and wounding at least 53 others. It's the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

 

Pittsburgh public safety and emergency response departments are working together to create a new strategy for dealing with large events and natural disasters.

The changes were proposed after presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s April rally at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, during which three people were arrested and four police officers treated for minor injuries.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Two proposed trust funds would allow real estate developers to pay the city of Pittsburgh to build green spaces and stormwater management infrastructure if they’re not able to include those elements on the sites of new projects in Downtown or North Shore.

Pittsburgh City Council approved the creation of an Open Space Trust Fund and a Stormwater Management Trust Fund in two unanimous preliminary votes Wednesday.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

The Allegheny County Sheriff’s Department is partnering with the gun industry’s main trade group to encourage safe gun practices in Pittsburgh.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation provided the Sheriff’s Department with free cable gun locks to distribute to gun-owners, with officials saying it’s the best way to prevent firearm accidents.

The organization said it has provided 37 million locks to law enforcement agencies across the country, including to Norma Kutscher who owns a 380 Ruger.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council is set to give final approval Tuesday to a $125,000 settlement in the Jordan Miles case, potentially ending a six-year legal battle between the city and the young black man who accused three white city police officers of attacking him in 2010.

There’s been no public discussion of the deal reached between Miles’ attorney, Joel Sansone, and the city Law Department; City Council held a closed-door executive session on the matter before unanimously approving the deal in a committee vote last Wednesday.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

 

Hundreds of golfers are trying to secure the remaining spots in the U.S. Open, which takes place this month.

This year, the annual golf competition is being held at the Oakmont Country Club, just outside of Pittsburgh, June 13 through 19.

About half of the 156 competitors have already been chosen – roughly 70 are top professionals who were entered automatically. Ten-thousand golfers wanted the remaining spots and 10 sectional qualifying rounds across the country on Monday determines who gets them.

andrewwin / Flickr

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recommends restoring 7.3 acres of ecosystem on Pittsburgh’s North Shore along the Ohio River. 

Officials with the corps and its nonprofit partner Riverlife began a study of the area last year in hopes of restoring degraded riverbanks and improving the depleted aquatic and floodplain habitat.

Ginny / Flickr

Contemporary Pride festivals are largely celebrations of personal identity and sexuality born from the start of the gay liberation movement.

"(They're) a time to remember the folks that have fought battles in years past and ... to continue the fight for the community to achieve full equality," said Christine Bryan, director of marketing and development for the Delta Foundation, the North Side-based nonprofit that organizes Pittsburgh Pride

Daniel X. O'Neil / Flickr

Members of an advisory board voted unanimously Tuesday to recommend that Allegheny County stop seeking federal funding for transitional housing programs in order to make its grant bids more competitive, and instead focus on permanent housing and "rapid re-housing" services.

But if it's adopted by the county Department of Human Services, the policy change would dry up annual funding streams relied upon by local transitional housing facilities like HEARTH, a Shaler organization that houses survivors of domestic violence.

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

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