Local Stories

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA News

Pennsylvania officials say there are two presumed positive coronavirus cases in the eastern part of the state. There are no confirmed cases in western Pennsylvania, though it’s possible that the virus is circulating, undetected, in the Pittsburgh area. *

To conserve medical resources if a potential outbreak does occur, the Allegheny County Health Department is recommending that people get the seasonal flu shot.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh area organizations have taken precautionary measures as the coronavirus spreads, and Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey says emergency funds need more support. The Allegheny County Health Department has a new director, Dr. Debra Bogen, a pediatrician from UPMC Children's hospital. And, how will voters respond to a future Democratic presidential candidate’s stance on fracking?

Courtesy of "Viral: Antisemitism in Four Mutations"

On today's program: A new film looks at the rise of antisemitism; a proposal could drastically change long-standing protections for birds; City Council is starting over on a trust fund to support parks; and the PSO’s new Pops conductor imagines his first fall season. 

Gas Driller Pulls Out Of Talks In $5M Suit Against Resident

Mar 5, 2020
Michael Rubinkam / AP

One of Pennsylvania’s largest gas drillers pulled out of settlement talks aimed at resolving its $5 million lawsuit against a resident whose drinking water was contaminated and who has spent years bashing the energy industry.

Houston-based Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. sued Dimock resident Ray Kemble and his former lawyers in 2017, claiming they tried to extort the company through frivolous litigation. Cabot also claims Kemble violated a 2012 settlement agreement by repeatedly “spouting lies” about the company in public.

Image courtesy of Scott Andrew

Joan Crawford was one of Hollywood’s top stars for decades. 

Matt Rourke / AP

The Pennsylvania Senate is hiding thousands of detailed explanations about its expenses from official records it provided under public records requests about how it spends taxpayer money, news organizations reported Thursday.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania state troopers will now be allowed to have tattoos on their arms, but those who do will have to wear long-sleeved uniform shirts that conceal them when they are on duty, the agency announced Wednesday.

In a statement, Col. Robert Evanchick, the state police commissioner, said the policy change reflects an “evolving public perception” about tattoos. The agency hopes the new policy will widen its field of potential recruits.

NIAID-RML / AP

A Pennsylvania state laboratory is improving its ability to handle samples that it is testing for the new coronavirus that is sickening people across the globe, state health officials said Wednesday.

The lab can now handle about 25 samples a day and that rate should increase in the coming days after it gets a piece of equipment, an extractor, that boosts its testing capacity, a Department of Health spokesman said.

Petrochemical Town Hall Near Pittsburgh Spotlights Pollution, Health Worries

Mar 5, 2020
Reid R. Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Subsidies for the petrochemical industry may bring a boost in construction jobs but could have a negative effect on Pennsylvania’s air quality and public health, according to speakers at a town hall held near Pittsburgh Wednesday. 

Jose Luis Magana / AP

While Pennsylvania officials made assurances Wednesday that the state's medical community is preparing for a potential coronavirus outbreak, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey accused President Trump of not taking the outbreak seriously.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

At an often tense meeting of Pittsburgh City Council Wednesday, officials at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium bared their teeth over a proposed city ordinance to limit the possession of alligators and other animals.

Andrea Pekelnicky / Courtesy of Carnegie Science Center

 

On today's program: The Carnegie Science Center names one of its own as permanent director; the broadband industry is in no hurry to fix PA’s rural internet problem; one advisor counsels patience after a shaky week for U.S. markets; and how Super Tuesday shapes the way Pittsburghers get to vote. 

Allegheny County

A pediatrician will be the new director of the Allegheny County Health Department. Dr. Debra Bogen is currently the vice chair for education in the Department of Pediatrics at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. Pending state approval, she'll take over the role permanently on May 4.

Matt Rourke / AP

The invasive spotted lanternfly is continuing its westward march across Pennsylvania, with state agriculture officials nearly doubling the number of counties in a quarantine zone meant to limit the pest’s spread.

Civic Groups Argue Supervised Injection Site Will Boost Crime

Mar 4, 2020
Nina Feldman / WHYY

More than a dozen neighborhood associations from South Philadelphia and the River Wards have joined the Fraternal Order of Police in filing a court document in opposition to a planned supervised injection site. The filing, a “friend of the court” brief, supports U.S. Attorney William McSwain’s request for a stay that would prevent the site from opening while his appeal moves through the Third Circuit Court.

Miguel Martinez / Billy Penn

During a high-profile event on Tuesday, City Council unveiled its “Poverty Action Plan” — aimed at helping 100,000 Philadelphians climb out of poverty by 2024.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Public Schools district is working with the Allegheny County Health Department to develop an action plan in the event that a case of coronavirus is confirmed in the county.

This Rag-Tag Group Of DIYers Has An Answer For Rural PA's Internet Problem

Mar 4, 2020
Min Xian / Keystone Crossroads

Henry McCreary and his friends were fed up.

In their part of rural Huntingdon County, access to high-speed internet was mostly limited, expensive and unreliable.

Courtesy of Clarion University

Pennsylvania's state-owned university system will implement a plan to reduce the size of their faculties by creating an early retirement incentive program.

At least 200 members of the faculty at the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education have indicated they will opt for the one-time incentive program, the system said in a statement Monday. The system's governing board approved the plan in January to align staffing with the decrease in student enrollment.

Though it's possible that coronavirus is circulating undetected in western Pennsylvania, the region’s largest health care system said on Tuesday that it hasn’t needed to test any patients at any of its facilities for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Marc Levy / AP

On today's program: Three decades into the ADA, Pittsburgh still has a long way to go; how fracking could influence the 2020 election; a new book explores how grassroots organizing is upending the democratic process; and questions remain about whether Allegheny County is pursuing facial recognition technology. 

Matt Rourke / AP

Voting-rights groups have asked a federal court to be included in a lawsuit alleging improper maintenance of voter rolls in Allegheny County -- a suit the groups fear could result in voters being unintentionally disenfranchised.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Nearly all Allegheny County students who receive free or reduced-price lunch are also eligible for free breakfast. A new report from Allies for Children and the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank shows 61 percent of students who qualify for free breakfast in the area are getting it.

Democrats Could Field An Anti-Fracking Candidate In 2020. Can They Win In Pennsylvania?

Mar 3, 2020
Reid R. Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Standing on the side of a road that hugs the Ohio River, Jeff Nobers stared across the water at a massive construction site: towering cranes, scaffolding, a maze of pipes.

KATIE BLACKLEY / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County says it is preparing in case coronavirus makes its way to western Pennsylvania, though there are no confirmed cases in the state.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

On today's program: One lawmaker is urging Harrisburg to reconsider its definition of a health emergency; Pittsburgh is updating its pandemic plan; farmers say a new horse racing bill could do more than harm than good; and Sojourner House welcomes a new leader.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Echoing a nationwide rollout of support for Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald on Monday unveiled a coalition of southwestern Pennsylvania county officials who are endorsing the former vice president.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Lack of access to childcare has a tremendous impact on the Pennsylvania economy, according to a new report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. More than half of the 330 parents surveyed for the research said they’ve missed work because of a childcare problem. Others say they’ve delayed education or training, or left a job in order to care for a child.

Evan Vucci / AP

President Donald Trump is making his first visit this year to the presidential battleground state of Pennsylvania, in a town hall-style event hosted by Fox News in Scranton on Thursday.

Min Xian / WPSU

For a second year, Pennsylvania’s School Safety and Security Committee has approved more than $60 million in school safety funding, which was announced Wednesday. The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency said demands for funding to improve safety in Pennsylvania schools remained strong.

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