A little less than eight weeks before voters choose a successor to Dan Onorato as Allegheny County Chief Executive, the two candidates squared off in a forum Thursday evening at Pittsburgh's Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) school.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is in Pittsburgh today to rally support for the job creation bill recently proposed by President Obama.

Secretary Vilsack said the plan would put people back to work immediately if it's adopted by Congress. The American Jobs Act would cut the payroll tax in half, a measure Vilsack said would encourage small businesses to hire more employees.

A local advocacy group is urging Pittsburghers to speak out against electronic billboards in the city. Scenic Pittsburgh wants city residents to contact their Council Member's office or sign a letter in support of a ban on additional electronic billboards in the city. Council will examine the matter Tuesday, September 27.

How Would Electoral Vote Change Impact Campaigning

Sep 15, 2011

A plan to split Pennsylvania's electoral vote would mean presidential candidates next year will need to focus on winning individual congressional districts, not just the statewide popular vote. That has political strategists considering how the plan will be a game-changer for their line of work.

A Look "Behind The Barn" At Local Foods

Sep 15, 2011

Residents of southwestern Pennsylvania are being urged to "put a face to your food" by exploring what local farms have to offer and learning about their growing practices. The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) is hosting its 5th annual Buy Fresh Buy Local Farms Tour this Saturday from 1-5 p.m.

Essential Public Media Gets 90.5 FM

Sep 15, 2011

For nearly two years, Duquesne University has been trying to sell its radio station. The deal to purchase WDUQ was finally closed on Thursday when Essential Public Media signed the papers to purchase the FCC licenses from Duquesne University for $6 million. Essential Public Media (EPM) is a wholly owned subsidiary of radio station WYEP with its own governing board.

Municipalities are worried that the delay in Allegheny County's property reassessment process will interfere with their 2012 budgeting processes.

Common Pleas Judge R. Stanton Wettick said "aggregate" estimates of the new property values will be available for municipalities and school districts for their 2012 budgets, which must be finalized by February 15.

Local governments will use the updated property values to determine tax revenues, and set millage rates accordingly.

Redistricting Panel Hears Testimony in Pittsburgh

Sep 14, 2011

At a recent public hearing in Pittsburgh, citizens urged the state's legislative redistricting commission to draw district borders that are fair to women voters and legislators, and to refrain from dividing "communities of interest" with political lines.

Pennsylvania's 2011 Legislative Reapportionment Commission heard nearly three hours of testimony at Duquesne University on Wednesday. The panel, composed of the four legislative caucus leaders and a Superior Court Judge, will decide the boundaries of 203 House districts and 50 Senate districts by mid-November.

Common Pleas Judge R. Stanton Wettick has sent a memo to Allegheny County officials ordering that reassessment of properties in the city of Pittsburgh must be completed before those in other municipalities in the county. Allegheny County is under a court order from Wettick to reset the values on properties for the 2012 taxes, but county officials say they are three months behind in the process. The county has not performed a new property assessment since 2002.

Pennsylvania's top fiscal watchdog says he does not have enough data from the Department of Public Welfare to finish a performance audit of the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) program, but that did not stop him from issuing a scathing report.

"DPW's default position seems to be 'we don't know what is going on, we are not interested in what's going on, and we don't want you or the public to know what's going on,' and that's not good enough for us," said Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner.

At the southeast corner of Wood Street and Boulevard of the Allies, Point Park University transformed a space that was once a gas station and most recently a parking lot, creating an open environment in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh. The 12,000 square foot park features six garden plots that will be planted with trees. The University also renovated the building bordering the park to the south with a PPG glass stair tower and a water feature below.

Councilman Tackles DUI Problem in South Side

Sep 13, 2011

Pittsburgh Councilman Bruce Kraus is calling on citizens and liquor licensees to join police efforts to quell the "epidemic" of drunk driving in the city.

Kraus heard testimony about the problem from community members, law enforcement, and the advocacy group Mothers Against Drunk Driving at a post-agenda meeting on Tuesday.

New Weapon to Fight Emerald Ash Borer

Sep 13, 2011

Tiny wasps, chemicals, and now injections into ash tree trunks are being used to battle the emerald ash borer. Various techniques to deal with this destructive beetle will be discussed at community forums on Tuesday evening in South Park Township, and on Wednesday evening in Wexford.

The emerald ash borer is native to China, but was first detected in the United States in 2002 in Michigan, and in Pennsylvania four years ago. The beetle has since been found in twelve of the commonwealth's counties. It has destroyed tens of millions of ash trees in the United States.

Fitzgerald: Create Regional Transit Agency

Sep 13, 2011

The Democratic candidate for Allegheny County Executive said the state should create a regional transit agency for southwestern Pennsylvania.

During a campaign address about working for senior citizens, former County Council President Rich Fitzgerald said the new agency would consolidate each county's current transit service into one larger entity to cut costs.

Episcopal Reverend in Forefront of Gay Ordination Dies

Sep 13, 2011

Retired Episcopal Bishop Walter C. Righter died Sunday after several weeks of hospice care, according to a spokesman for the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. Righter was 87.

Penn­syl­va­nia is strapped for cash. The state has run bil­lion dollar-plus deficits for three straight years. But since 2009, roy­al­ties and bonus pay­ments from Mar­cel­lus Shale drilling in state forests have brought in hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars. Some offi­cials say addi­tional drilling is the solu­tion to the commonwealth's finan­cial prob­lems. That's rais­ing the ire of peo­ple like Butch Davey, who worry addi­tional leas­ing would dam­age the forests forever.

Flight 93 Remains Interred

Sep 12, 2011

For ten years, the unidentified remains of the forty passengers and crew of Flight 93 sat in three caskets stored away in a mausoleum. Today, the families buried the coffins on the sacred ground where Flight 93 crashed in Shanksville, Somerset County, September 11, 2001.

"It's our duty to assure that to the maximum extent possible, all of those forty people are, in a sense, together, embracing one another in eternity, and that is the site; that is the place where that needs to be," said Patrick White, a relative of Louis J. Nacke, who died on Flight 93.

Local Woman Heeds President’s Jobs Bill Orders

Sep 12, 2011

President Barack Obama took to the Rose Garden this morning to warn congress that he will send his "American Jobs Act" to the Capitol later today while at the same time calling on those in attendance to fight for its passage.

"I can't tell you how many times the president said, 'Pass the bill, pass the bill, pass the bill,'" said Just Harvest co-director Tara Marks. Marks was invited to the White House last week, but was not told what the focus of the event would be until later. "Of course you get that invitation you say, 'Great, I want to be there,'" said Marks.

Unfortunately, many times in the wake of natural disasters, charity scams claim to use your money for recovery and to help victims, but in fact pocket it for themselves.

So far there has only been anecdotal evidence of questionable organizations taking advantage of the disastrous floods in central and southeastern Pennsylvania, but people should still be cautious about the organizations they donate to. Ronald Ruman, press secretary of Pennsylvania's Department of State, said there are a few ways to tell if a charity is legitimate.

Flight 93 Memorial Open but Far From Finished

Sep 12, 2011

A wall of names, a granite walkway and a 17 ton boulder mark the spot where Flight 93 crashed into a rural Somerset County field on September 11, 2001, but the memorial is far from complete. The first phase of the "Crescent of Embrace" design opened over the weekend, with two more phases to follow.

Thousands Mark 9/11 in Shanksville

Sep 12, 2011

Families of the forty people who died on Flight 93 stood to applaud Somerset County coroner Wallace Miller Sunday during a moving ceremony marking the tenth anniversary of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. Miller led the recovery efforts of human remains and personal effects following the crash of the Boeing 757-200 into the abandoned strip mine. The part-time coroner and full-time funeral home director has made the protection of the site and the remains a personal mission.

Solar Energy Hits Milestone in PA

Sep 12, 2011

There are now more than 100 Megawatts of installed solar power capacity in Pennsylvania according to a recent report from regional transmission organization PJM Interconnect. That is up from three megawatts four years ago.

"The solar energy industry in Pennsylvania creates a lot of jobs," said PennFuture Energy Center Director, Christina Simeone, "We have estimated that Pennsylvania has the second largest amount of solar energy jobs in the nation, second only to California."

PennDOT Tries for Safer Work Zones

Sep 12, 2011

PennDOT is stepping up its efforts to protect road crews in work zones with safety training and "Operation Yellow Jacket".

Steve Cowan, PennDOT District 11 Safety Press Officer, said road workers are being trained periodically by safety and county management staff on how to handle work zone violations. He said in District 11 (Allegheny, Beaver, and Lawrence County) there have been two training sessions in the last three months, but employees, in the past year, have not yet reported a violation to the police.

Window Closing on Federal Foreclosure Aid

Sep 12, 2011

Homeowners facing foreclosure have just a few days left to submit applications for federal assistance.

Of $105 million available to Pennsylvanians through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, only $50 million has been committed so far, with about $4 million of that in southwestern Pennsylvania. The remainder of the money is still available through HUD's "Emergency Homeowners' Loan Program" — that is, until Friday.

Two Presidents Honor Heroism in Shanksville

Sep 11, 2011

More than 5,000 people waited in hours of traffic and braved muddy fields to see the dedication of the Flight 93 National Memorial yesterday. They watched as former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and Vice President Joe Biden honored the 40 passengers and crew who died on Flight 93 on September eleventh, 2001.

Message Carriers to Sing At Pirates Game

Sep 9, 2011

When the Message Carriers get together its kind of like a family reunion.

Some of them have known each other for decades, others for years. Some are just meeting for the first time. Regardless, they have a unifying bond. They are all in recovery from drugs or alcohol or love someone who is.

The Message Carriers' self-proclaimed mission is to put a face on recovery in efforts to reduce stigmas and change public policy. One of the groups' projects is this choir

Tonight they are singing the Star Spangled Banner at The Pirates Game.

ACHD: Watch for Suicide Symptoms

Sep 9, 2011

The Allegheny County Health Department is marking World Suicide Prevention Day Saturday by reminding residents just how big of a problem suicide can be.

"Between 2005 and 2008, the Health Department's Child Death Review Team examined 19 suicides countywide involving adolescents 14 to 19 years old or about five a year," said Review Team member Jennifer Fiddner. Suicides account for about 3% of sudden deaths in that age group according to Fiddner

Jets Zoom into Town for Pittsburgh Air Show

Sep 9, 2011

When else could you expect to see (and hear) dozens of jets roaring through the air at 400 miles per hour?

Yes, it's the 10th annual "Wings Over Pittsburgh" air show, where teams of unreasonably fast planes will invade the skies over Moon Township's 911th Airlift Wing this Saturday and Sunday, weather permitting.

It may rain this weekend, but unless lightning strikes, pilots from groups like the Red Bull Air Force, the Viper West F-16 Jet Team, and Team Oracle are sure to pull off plenty of aerobatic manuevers.

New Phase for Summerset at Frick Park

Sep 9, 2011

A new phase of Summerset at Frick Park will be ready for its first residents by late spring of next year after being delayed for three years by financial turmoil in the real estate market.

Ferlo Calls Highmark/UPMC fight “Bitter Divorce”

Sep 9, 2011

Pennsylvania State Senator Jim Ferlo (D-Highland Park) gathered representatives from UPMC and Highmark to go before a public forum last night in an effort to help the two nonprofits better understand what is going on in the community.

"They speak out to the public in their paid ads," said Ferlo. It is not clear if they are really are hearing directly from the public who, in the case of Highmark, have been paying high premiums and have been living under what he calls "predatory practices" used by UPMC, said Ferlo