Rendell Says Drilling Opposition Grows Daily

Sep 8, 2011

Former Governor Ed Rendell became a bit of an unwelcome guest during the Marcellus Shale Coalition's natural gas convention in Philadelphia, Wednesday.

Flight 93 Memorial to Open Sept. 10

Sep 8, 2011

Off the turnpike exit at Somerset, past farms and fields, is a gravel lot. In the middle is a squat building with corrugated aluminum for walls and a line of porta-potties. This used to be a scrap yard but now it is a construction site where crews have been working for months to build the Flight 93 memorial.

Visitors look past the construction to a divot in the ground where the plane slammed into the earth September 11, 2001.

As Rains Continue, PA Officials Brace For More Flooding

Sep 7, 2011

Pennsylvania National Guard soldiers are preparing to help direct traffic and rescue people surrounded by floodwaters. Guard members haven't been sent out on missions yet, but Sergeant Matt Jones said 500 troops are reporting to armories in the south central and southeastern parts of the state. "The soldiers that have been called up so far are just making sure that they're ready to go out on a mission as soon as one's called in," said Jones.

Pittsburgh Police Accountability Bill Held Again

Sep 7, 2011

The leadership of Pittsburgh's Bureau of Police is at odds with the Citizens Police Review Board and several community organizations when it comes to public reports on certain police-related statistics.

The debate has caused City Council to delay a preliminary vote on a police accountability bill for at least two more weeks.

Council has again tabled a bill that would require the publishing of an annual report of police incidents such as frisks, pull-overs, and any use of force.

Fewer Parents Require Bike Helmets

Sep 7, 2011

The number of parents who "sometimes" make their kids wear bike helmets has gone down by 10 percent: from 74% to 64% since 2007, according to a recent survey by Safe Kids USA.

Parents who "always" require a helmet dropped from 48- to 42% over the four years. Yet research shows helmets can reduce the risk of head injury by 85%, and can reduce severe brain damage by 88%, said Lindsay Hansen of Safe Kids USA.

Suit Filed over Dunkard Creek

Sep 7, 2011

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission announced Wednesday that it is pursuing a pair of lawsuits against Canonsburg-based Consol Energy Inc. over a fish kill two years ago in Dunkard Creek. The kill impacted about 30 miles of the waterway in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

The agency said the Pennsylvania lawsuit was filed in Greene County on Wednesday. A similar complaint was filed in Monongalia County, W.Va., last week.

The commission blames discharges from a Consol mine for the deaths of about 43,000 fish, 15,000 mussels and 6,500 mudpuppies.

Santorum Picks Up Support in PA

Sep 7, 2011

Pennsylvania State Senate Republicans are sounding their support for Pennsylvania's former U-S senator, Rick Santorum, as he makes a bid for the party's presidential nomination. This week Santorum gathered endorsements from two key G-O-P senators.

CMU To Receive Largest Gift In Its History

Sep 7, 2011

Carnegie Mellon University has announced that long-time trustee William S. Dietrich II has promised the university $265 million upon his passing. Dietrich is a political scientist, historian, industrialist and money manager.

University President Jared Cohon said Dietrich feels strongly that Carnegie Mellon will use his donation for great things. "His gift to us reflects his confidence in the university, his belief that what we do is important for the region and for the world, and his desire to invest in that," said Cohon.

Frankel Joins "It Gets Better" Project

Sep 7, 2011

With students heading back to school, State Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny County) has posted his "It Gets Better" video in response to several high-profile incidents of bullying against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender teens.

RMU Opens New Business School Building

Sep 6, 2011

Despite starting out as a purely business school in downtown Pittsburgh 90 years ago, the business school at Robert Morris University has never had its own building since moving to the Moon Township Campus. Today that changes when the university officially opens its new 18,000-square-foot School of Business Complex.

Three Children Infected With Rare Flu Strain

Sep 6, 2011

Cases of a novel flu virus have been identified in three children with ties to the Washington County Fair according to the Pennsylvania Departments of Health and Agriculture. The first child to become ill has fully recovered while the other two are still healing. The state has not released any information about the three.

US Education Secretary Launches Tour in Pittsburgh

Sep 6, 2011

For the second time in as many years, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is taking a multi-city bus tour to mark the beginning of the school year, and he is starting his tour in Pittsburgh. "I learn best by seeing," said Secretary Duncan. "I try to get to a few hundred schools every year."

PennDOT Uses New Lane Markings

Sep 5, 2011

Motorists traveling Pennsylvania's state highways are starting to see new warnings painted on the pavement. The goal is to improve safety at intersections and sharp curves.

PennDOT is painting the word "SLOW" on the roadway as they approach tight curves. The marking is then followed by an arrow to alert motorists which way the road is turning, said PennDOT District 11 safety officer Steve Cowen.

Labor Day Parade: A 'March for Jobs'

Sep 4, 2011

Union leaders in Southwestern Pennsylvania want to use this year's Labor Day Parade to send a message to state and federal lawmakers: pass transportation legislation to put people back to work.

Allegheny County Labor Council President Jack Shea said he expects 70,000 to march in the 2011 parade, with both unionized and non-union workers invited to take part in the "March for Jobs." This is the first year non-union workers will be marching.

When the Fairweather Lodge Came to Moon Township

Sep 2, 2011

State grants totaling $4 million are headed to 18 airports across Pennsylvania to upgrade facilities and improve safety. The awards range from $3,000 for the Butler County Airport to $750,000 for Pittsburgh International Airport. The money comes from the state's jet fuel tax. Each recipient must match 25% of the money granted.

CDC: Childhood Immunizations are Up

Sep 2, 2011

The Centers for Disease Control report that more caretakers are having their infants and children immunized. The latest report from the CDC shows rates for most long-standing recommended vaccines are at or above 90% for children 19 – 35 months old. The 2010 National Immunization Survey included 17,000 households, and showed that immunizations are on the upswing for measles, mumps and rubella, rotavirus, pneumococcal disease, Hib, and hepatitis A.

Labor Day Weekend Road Construction

Sep 2, 2011

PennDOT says most major road construction will be suspended for the holiday weekend as a concession to motorists, but long-term restrictions will remain in place on Route 28, Route 65 and Crosstown Boulevard.

Work will also continue on Route 50 in Bridgeville, where there will be just a single lane in each direction from 8:00 PM Friday through 8:00 PM Sunday near Great Southern Shopping Center, and also where Greentree Road intersects Route 50 in Heidelberg.

Pittsburgh's Urban Redevelopment Authority will use a pair of state grants to restore building facades downtown and help build a new parking garage in East Liberty.

Yarone Zober, chief of staff to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, said $4 million is set aside for revamping building fronts downtown. He said the rennovations are meant to complement recent downtown development projects, such as Market Square. Zober said the goal is to attract new businesses and possibly increase the downtown population with upper-story apartments.

Pennsylvanians Want to Keep Drilling, But Tax It

Sep 2, 2011

A broad majority of Pennsylvanians support natural gas drilling, according to a new poll. At the same time, 65% of respondents want lawmakers to pass a severance tax, and send the revenue to the state government. 72% want to split the tax dollars between the state and local municipalities.

"So the takeaway here is, Pennsylvanians say, yep, let's tax. Let's divide the tax between local communities and the state," said pollster Terry Madonna. "Yes, the industry is doing the right thing. They're doing a good job, but oh, by the way, you better be careful about the environment."

PennFuture Goes After Pitt on Pollution Law

Sep 2, 2011

The environmental watchdog group PennFuture is turning its attention to the University of Pittsburgh in its campaign to get building owners in the region to obey the state's diesel idling laws. The law limits the amount of time a diesel-powered vehicle can idle and it forces building owners to post warnings on loading docks.

Bill Would Add to Newborn Health Screenings

Sep 1, 2011

A bill in the Pennsylvania Senate would bolster the state's newborn health screening law by adding a test for congenital heart disease. Sponsoring Senator Daylin Leach said the test takes only three minutes and costs one dollar, but has the potential to save the lives of newborns with congenital heart disease.

Leach said the test measures the oxygen levels in a child's blood, which can help determine if they're at risk for the disease. If that is the case, Leach said doctors will be able to intervene faster, as the condition is often otherwise undetectable.

According to a study from the Commonwealth Foundation, average prices for top-shelf wines and spirits out of state were found to be significantly cheaper than in-state options. The vast difference in price and selection has led to illegal bootlegging, which could potentially cost Pennsylvania millions of dollars annually.

Raja Promises County Department of Innovation

Sep 1, 2011

Republican D. Raja said if he's elected as the next Allegheny County Executive, he would create a "Department of Innovation" to improve county government.

Announcing his broad plans to foster innovation, Raja said the new agency would be dedicated to finding and implementing creative ideas to save money and improve the services of all other county departments.

Perzel Admits Guilt in Legislative Corruption Probe

Aug 31, 2011

Former Pennsylvania House Speaker John Perzel today pleaded guilty to eight counts of conflict of interest, theft and conspiracy as part of a deal to cooperate with prosecutors in the ongoing investigation of legislative corruption. Perzel, who served more than 30 years in the House before being defeated in last November's election, had originally been charged with 82 counts. His plea agreement includes charges he used House Republican technology and staff for campaigns and fund-raising and also stole state money to pay for vendors contracted during campaigns.

A coalition of nearly thirty labor unions and community groups wants Pennsylvania's General Assembly to pass a transportation package this fall.

Patrick McMahon, President of the Amalgamated Transit Union in Pittsburgh, said the group plans to write to legislators and hold rallies in support of greater investment in the state's "crumbling transportation infrastructure."

McMahon said the coalition is endorsing the funding recommendations made by the governor's Transportation Funding Advisory Committee (TFAC) earlier this summer.

More Mosquito Spraying in Homewood & Point Breeze

Aug 31, 2011

The Allegheny County Health Department will spray for mosquitoes from 8:00 to 9:00 PM, weather permitting, Thursday, September 1, in certain areas of South Homewood, Point Breeze, Homewood Cemetery and Wilkinsburg. Forty-six samples taken there have tested positive for West Nile Virus since early July.

State Park Will Grow with Land Acquisition

Aug 31, 2011

Laurel Hill State Park will soon expand to include more woodlands along Laurel Hill Creek, and a new vista from the peak of a grassy ridge.

The Somerset County property will gain 137 acres when land recently bought by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is handed over to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The park will encompass more than 4,100 acres when the deal is finalized.

The House State Government Committee holds a second day of hearings today on more than a dozen proposals aimed to halt what Representative Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler County) calls the "invasion" of illegal immigrants. One of the measures would allow local law enforcement to verify the citizenship of someone they've stopped for breaking a law whose immigration status "should be reasonably suspected." Police could then arrest those who were determined to be undocumented.

Former state House Speaker John Perzel is slated to plead guilty Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 PM in the Dauphin County Courthouse to charges related to the misuse of taxpayer dollars. The specific charges aren't yet known, but will be related to the Pennsylvania Attorney General's corruption investigation of House lawmakers and staff for using millions of tax dollars for campaign purposes.