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How Covering Vets Changes As The War Marches On

David Gilke
NPR's Quil Lawrence joins WESA and Point Park University for an evening of conversation at the Pittsburgh Playhouse on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019.

On today's program: Quil Lawrence is headed to Pittsburgh to share his experiences covering U.S. veterans; a public school teacher helps students get a second chance; Pennsylvania farmers are grappling with the impact of the trade war, which a Pitt political economist says was never a good plan; and a Revolutionary-era log house is being moved to historic Hanna’s Town. 

From the war zone to the home front with America’s vets
(00:00 — 13:36) 

NPR correspondent Quil Lawrence has spent years covering stories about American soldiers both in theater and at home. He spoke to The Confluence’s Megan Harris about the value of that unique reporting experience, and how the mission has changed as wars in Iraq and Afghanistan carried on.

For many who've returned home, he says the modern job site is "the first time in their lives—their adult lives, if they joined as 18 or 19 year olds—they are going to have to learn to be adults in the civilian world.”

Lawrence will be in Pittsburgh on Thursday as part of the Media Innovators Speaker Series through Point Park University's Center for Media Innovation.

Educator supports students through their second chance
(14:10 — 17:50) 

Ruthie Walker wants every kid who walks through her door to have a quality education–something she tries to ensure in her role as a student service assistant and activities coordinator at the Pittsburgh Student Achievement Center. The center supports middle and high school students grades 6 through 12 who need to make up credits after falling behind. Walker tells 90.5 WESA’s Brian Cook that her ultimate goal for the students is graduation. 

“It’s like a second chance,” Walker says. “When they come here, I let them know that we don’t care what happened in the past, because you’re starting off clean right here. From here forward, let’s get those grades up.’”

PA farmers are fighting to stay afloat in a tumultuous market
(17:51 — 23:03) 

As the United States’ trade war with China continues, the agricultural industry remains one of the hardest-hit sectors of the American economy. Soybean farmers have been especially hurt after China slapped tariffs on U.S. soy last summer. In the midst of the second harvest under the trade war, Keystone Crossroads’ Emily Pontecorvo spoke with several Pennsylvania farmers about how the policy affects them and what it takes to survive in an unstable and uncertain market.

Trade tariffs are straining other industries, too
(23:04 — 33:43)

Erica Owen, a domestic politics and global economy professor at the University of Pittsburgh, says U.S. businesses and farmers are facing the tariff war on two fronts: importing materials to make their goods, and what it takes now to sell those goods to Chinese buyers. Owen says that while China has lowered barriers with other trade partners, many U.S. companies have resorted to idling factories, laying off workers and raising consumer costs.

She spoke last week at a panel in Pittsburgh’s Hazelwood neighborhood alongside members of the nonprofit, chemicals, manufacturing and agricultural industries. All shared how the Trump administration’s trade tariffs directly affect them. 

The President has since declared an agreement would be reached to end the trade dispute by November.

Historic LeFevre house is moving to Hanna's Town
(33:46 — 38:45) 

A log house in Hempfield Township is being moved from its current location to historic Hanna’s Town after the LeFevre family donated it to the Westmoreland County Historical Society.

Society executive director Lisa Hays says the home will be delicately dismantled, transported and then rebuilt at its new location on the 180-acre, county-owned historic site, which is already home to several other Revolutionary War-era log houses, a wagon shed and reconstructed fort. 

Hanna’s Town, which was destroyed in a raid during the Revolution, formerly served as the seat of Westmoreland County.

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 take 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.
Kevin Gavin is the host of WESA's news interview program "The Confluence." He is a native Pittsburgher and served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years. Since the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc. (now Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp.), he served as Executive Producer of Special News Projects prior to being named as host of "The Confluence" five years ago. kgavin@wesa.fm
Megan Harris is a writer, editor, photographer and curator for Pittsburgh's NPR News station. She leads editorial coverage for The Confluence, 90.5 WESA's live, one-hour, daily morning news show.
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