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Could Investment In Digital Infrastructure Help Close The Rural-Urban Divide?

Calls for investment in digital infrastructure have increased across the country. More than one-third of people in rural areas lack access to high-speed internet. 

Dr. Jem Spectar, president of the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown, says he sees a growing need among not just current and prospective college students, but the small communities surrounding America's urban centers.

“The urban-rural gap is not just a digital gap. It’s a gap in job prospects, a gap in hope,” he says. “We think that investments in education are key, but we also think investments in transportation and digital infrastructure and digital skills are one part of a wide mix of innovations that can make a huge difference.”

Later in the program: 

In 2014, an algae toxin poisoned Toledo’s water distribution system, leaving 500,000 people without water for three days. Out of this came a new group, Toledoans for Safe Water. The Allegheny Front’s Julie Grant reports the group has created a city charter amendment togive Lake Erie legal rightsthat would be defendable in court. 

90.5 WESA’s Katie Blackley looks at copyright law as thousands of new songs, movies, books and other creative works enter the public domain.

Gov. Tom Wolf requested $50 million to fund a cash assistance program that helps low-income families afford things like clothing and transportation not covered by other safety net programs. Keystone Crossroads contributor Aaron Moselle reports on the battle between the governor and Republican lawmakers on the importance of the program and how it impacts Pennsylvania's poor.

Between La’Veon Bell’s contract dispute and Antonio Brown’s desire to be traded, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been embroiled in player drama since last year, costing them “at least one loss” according to Morning Edition host and lifelong Steelers fan David Greene. He joins The Confluence to discuss what he calls the “painful and un-Steeler-like” situation.

And literacy is often thought of as the ability to read the written word, but Sister Rita Yeasted, English professor at LaRoche College and president of the Western Pennsylvania Council of Teachers of English, wants to expand that definition to include other forms of literacy. She celebrates an upcoming pop-up symposium “Reading Our Reality,” which starts Friday at Seton LaSalle High School.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators join veteran journalist Kevin Gavin, taking an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Kiley Koscinski covers city government, policy and how Pittsburghers engage with city services. She also works as a fill-in host for All Things Considered. Kiley has previously served as a producer on The Confluence and Morning Edition.
Julia Zenkevich reports on Allegheny County government for 90.5 WESA. She first joined the station as a production assistant on The Confluence, and more recently served as a fill-in producer for The Confluence and Morning Edition. She’s a life-long Pittsburgher, and attended the University of Pittsburgh. She can be reached at
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