WESA Local News

Katie Meyer / 90.5 WESA

On the eastern border of Pennsylvania, north of the Philadelphia suburbs, a cluster of state Senate district appear — at first glance — to be arbitrarily drawn.

Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo

In the 1970s, Pennsylvania had 300,000 volunteer firefighters, according to the State Fire Commissioner. That number has dropped to about 50,000, leaving some volunteer stations stretched thin and communities underserved.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto’s 2018 capital budget proposal does not include any funding for maintenance of the 1,400 vacant lots and 50 vacant structures owned by the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

'I Can't Just Step Away From My Grant': Scientists Grapple With EPA Head's Call To End Funding

Nov 30, 2017
Tim Evanson / Flickr

In October, the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, ordered scientists who receive EPA grants to either end those grants or resign from EPA scientific advisory boards. But what about industry-backed scientists? He said they can stay.

Susan Walsh / AP

An outspoken county commissioner from northern Pennsylvania says he'll challenge U.S. Rep. Tom Marino in next year's Republican primary, citing Marino's role in writing a law that critics say weakened the government's authority to stop drug companies from distributing opioids.

Bradford County Commissioner Doug McLinko announced his candidacy Thursday and accused Marino of soliciting campaign contributions from drug companies and then sponsoring legislation that allowed them to flood communities with opioids.

Joaquin Gonzalez / 90.5 WESA

On a Tuesday night, the first floor of the Cathedral of Learning is brimming with students, their conversations bouncing off the high, arched ceilings. They sit on the ground, in more than a dozen small circles; at the center of each circle is a dog. 

Oliver, a golden retriever, lays on his side as he's pet by five or six people at once. Despite all the attention, Oliver is calm and quiet. That's because he, like every other dog here, is a therapy dog from the College Canines program at Humane Animal Rescue

Gene J. Puskar / AP

A Focus Features documentary dubbed “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” about the life and work of Fred Rogers is coming to the the big screen in June, officials announced Monday.

According to a release, the film will examine how Rogers navigated cultural and social issues in a forward-thinking way.

President and CEO of the Fred Rogers Company Paul Siefken said Rogers was a fascinating man on and off screen.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh’s Multicultural Liaison Unit launched Wednesday to help bridge the cultural and communication gap between the Department of Public Safety and immigrant and refugee communities.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

About two dozen graduate students chanted "kill the bill" outside the Cathedral of Learning on Wednesday. Many teach undergraduate classes or assist with research in exchange for waived tuition or a stipend. 

Google Maps

A local law firm decided to dig into PennDOT crash data to visualize the most dangerous intersections in Allegheny County. The study identifies 787 intersections that had five or more crashes from 2014 to 2016.

Dallas W. Hartman P.C. represents a lot of collision cases, and wanted to raise awareness about areas around the county where drivers are more likely to crash, said attorney Dallas Hartman.

Susan Walsh / AP

Democrats and some Republicans from the Philadelphia region are worried that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is trying to gut his agency from within.

The EPA has worked overtime to undo many Obama-era environmental regulations, while also scrubbing its website of any mention of “climate change.”

That’s triggered several red flags for U.S. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, who said he and other Democrats warned the GOP not to tap Pruitt to lead the agency.

Chris Knight / AP

The field for the 2018 lieutenant governor election is filling up, with a number of Democrats jumping into the often-low-key race.

That could mean a tough battle for incumbent Mike Stack, who has struggled through public conflicts with fellow Democrat, Governor Tom Wolf.

State representative Madeleine Dean, who has served part of Montgomery County since 2012, is the latest entry to the race.

Matt Slocum / AP

There were fewer fatal crashes and more alcohol-related arrests on Pennsylvania's highways over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

State troopers investigated 981 crashes between Nov. 22 and Nov. 26. That's up from 931 during the holiday last year. Four of the crashes were fatal, down from six in 2016.

Police made 629 driving under the influence arrests compared to 610 last year. They say 85 of the 981 crashes were alcohol-related.

Police also issued nearly 16,000 speeding tickets.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court is deciding whether Governor Tom Wolf overstepped his authority with an executive order letting the state organize home healthcare workers under a union-like structure.

A lower court already decided against the governor once.

But lawyers for the Wolf administration argue the governor’s directive merely gives workers an option to voice their concerns.

The 2015 order—one of Wolf’s first in office—targets independent workers who care for elderly and disabled people in their homes.

Matt Rourke / AP

Several Republican state senators plan to introduce legislation that would require Pennsylvania to use zero-based budgeting—a standard specifically designed to save money.

Paul A. Selvaggio / Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium via AP

Two rare tiger cubs whose mother didn't bond with them are being hand-raised at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.

Zoo keepers on Tuesday showed off the twin male and female endangered Amur cubs, which were born Sept. 25. The keepers had noticed the cubs' mother, 10-year-old Tierney, wasn't caring for them 24 hours after their birth and decided to remove them.

Dr. Ginger Sturgeon, director of animal health at the zoo, said the twins don’t have names yet, but definitely have personalities.

Tim Kelly / Carnegie Mellon University College of Engineering

A Ph.D. student in Pittsburgh is working to develop a more effective drug delivery method for patients with lung diseases.

Pennsylvania State Officials Will See A Pay Raise In 2018

Nov 28, 2017
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The salaries of Pennsylvania's 253 state lawmakers, more than 1,000 judges and several dozen top executive branch officials will rise in 2018.

The increase amounts to 0.8 percent, a figure tied by state law to the year-over-year change in the consumer price index published by the U.S. Department of Labor for urban consumers in the mid-Atlantic region.

The bump takes effect Friday for lawmakers and Jan. 1 for judicial and executive branch officials. It is slightly smaller than last year's increase of 1.3 percent.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

Maintaining safe drinking water requires rigorous testing, and regulations from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Environmental Protection Agency require reports on those tests at regular intervals: some daily, some monthly, some yearly.

PA Hotline Links Those In Need With Help To Confront Opioid Addiction

Nov 28, 2017
Toby Talbot / AP

One of the most frequent complaints that Jennifer Smith, acting secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, hears from family and friends concerned about loved ones’ opioid abuse is that they don’t know how to access treatment.

“I heard over and over and over again … my child needs treatment, but I have no idea how to get him or her there. I don’t know who to call,’” said Smith last month at a hearing on the state of the opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania.

Case Weighs Whether Anti-Police Rap Lyrics Constitute Threat

Nov 28, 2017
Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

A dispute over rap lyrics dropped Tuesday before Pennsylvania's highest court, where justices will have to decide whether they constitute a criminal threat to police or amount to protected speech under the First Amendment.

The state Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Jamal Knox, who served time in state prison for the song he recorded after being arrested on drug charges.

Questions from the justices focused on whether Knox intended it as a true threat to officers and whether the reaction to the song by police is relevant to the criminal charges.

Matt Rourke / AP

A judge has issued an injunction that will at least delay state lawmakers from getting some of the money they planned for in the revenue plan they finished last month.

The cash is tied to a pending case about whether the state can constitutionally force the Joint Underwriting Association—a medical malpractice insurer—to give up $200 million.

This is the second year lawmakers have tried to take surplus money from the JUA to help balance perennial budget gaps.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

A wood-plank bridge crosses the Stonycreek River in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and leads to the lower boarding platform of the city’s incline. A red car on a steeply angled track whisks passengers 500 feet up a hillside. The short ride offers sweeping views of the city, and the quickest way to understand Johnstown’s sewer problem.

An-Li Herring / WESA

A federal grand jury in Pittsburgh indicted three Chinese individuals Monday for stealing internal communications, passwords, trade secrets and other data from Moody’s Analytics, Siemens AG and GPS technology manufacturer Trimble, Inc.

Fort Carson / Flickr

Pennsylvania's Game Commission estimates about 550,000 hunters with rifles are expected to take to the woods in search of white-tailed deer.

The rifle season opened just before sunrise on Monday and continues through Dec. 9.

Hunters are allowed to harvest one buck, as well as an antlerless deer for each antlerless permit they hold.

Experts believe the deer population is up due to last year's milder temperatures. As a result, there has been more food for the deer. However, it also means the deer are not moving as much so hunters are being asked to be patient.

Jared Wickerham / AP

A Pennsylvania police chief who oversaw the department when a rookie officer was fatally shot during a traffic stop is resigning.

New Kensington Mayor Thomas Guzzo said Sunday Chief Jim Klein discussed his resignation with him Nov. 16. The mayor says Klein told his officers the next day, hours before 25-year-old Officer Brian Shaw was shot and killed.

Guzzo says Klein is leaving for another undisclosed position. His last day has not been announced.

NYTTEND / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

The number of vacancies on the federal trial court in the Western District of Pennsylvania grew to five Friday, when U.S. District Court Judge David Cercone entered senior status. The court is authorized to have a total of 10 judges.

 

UW Health/Flickr

When a parent has health insurance through Medicaid, their child is 29 percent more likely to receive an annual physical exam.

That’s according to a new study designed by a University of Pittsburgh Public Health researcher Eric T. Roberts, who calls this correlation between pediatric care and parental health insurance a "spill-over effect."

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

Pennsylvania recently legalized online gambling with a new law that also provides for 10 mini-casinos and standalone gaming terminals throughout the state.

This expansion will take some time to be implemented.

Pages