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Five of the country’s 50 most economically segregated neighboring school districts are located in Western Pennsylvania.

Rob Mercuri Campaign

Rob Mercuri is a relative newcomer to politics, but he can already claim a leg up on many more seasoned politicos: While insiders and journalists spent much of their week trying to figure out what state House Speaker Mike Turzai was planning to announce this Thursday, Mercuri already knew Turzai would not run for office again.

A day after Turzai said he was stepping down, in fact, Mercuri announced his campaign for Turzai’s House seat – with Turzai’s endorsement.

Closed hospital and empty parking lot.
Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

The door to the emergency room at the Ellwood City Medical Center is locked. 

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Twenty-four hours over three days - that's how long each side gets to make its case in the Senate impeachment trial.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

JAKE SAVITZ / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh-based PPG says it has made good on its 2016 pledge to eliminate lead from all products by 2020.

Jared Murphy / 90.5 WESA

The path to presidential victory runs directly through Pennsylvania. The state holds 20 electoral votes and Donald Trump’s 2016 win was decided by less than 50,000 votes, or less than one percentage point. 

Ariel Worthy / 90.5 WESA

A gun buyback held in Homewood Monday distributed $5,000 in less than one hour, according to organizers.

Mel Evans / AP

Pennsylvania’s primary doesn’t take place until late April, but the election cycle is officially underway in Allegheny County: Yesterday marked the deadline for announcing an interest in seeking the endorsement of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee. There were few surprises on the list of candidates vying for the approval of party insiders. But there were some notable omissions — and, as always, some criticism that endorsement filing fees themselves are anti-democratic.

PWSA

Update: The flush and boil advisory has been lifted as of Wednesday, January 22. PWSA advises residents who have not run their water in recent days to flush their taps for at least one minute before using water for cooking or drinking.

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority has issued a flush and boil advisory for the Crafton Heights, Elliott, Esplen, Ridgemont, and Westwood neighborhoods.

Delta Foundation via Facebook

Gary Van Horn stepped down as president of the Delta Foundation Monday, as he faces criminal charges filed last month. But Pittsburgh may not have heard the last of him, thanks to the LGBT advocacy group’s bylaws.

NASA

NASA is working to send astronauts to Mars, and one of them might bring along a Terrible Towel.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

It’s been one year since Body Euphoria Inclusive Massage Therapy opened in upper Lawrenceville. The business is owned and operated by Eli Shumaker, a massage therapist who says he wanted to create a positive experience for his clients, especially those who identify as LGBT.

Uniontown's New Treasurer Says Racist Officials Won't Seat Her

Jan 8, 2020
Google Maps

The newly elected treasurer of a small city in western Pennsylvania asserted in a lawsuit Wednesday that city officials plotted to block her from taking office because she is black.

Uniontown Treasurer-elect Antoinette Hodge alleged that a city councilman, Martin Gatti, took action to prevent her from being sworn in as scheduled this week and called her a “colored girl” in a discussion with officials at a bonding agency.

Maggie Young / WESA

Pittsburgh City Council unanimously voted to make District 2 Councilor Theresa Kail-Smith Council President on Monday. Kail-Smith said her choice to run for the seat was an 11th-hour decision.

KATIE BLACKLEY / 90.5 WESA

People are increasingly turning to technology for ways to improve their lives, from saving money with budgeting apps or counting steps with fitness trackers. For people who need help dozing off, the mindfulness company Headspace offers so-called “sleepcasts,” which aim to help listeners wind down for bed with narrated tours of peaceful landscapes, including Pittsburgh.

5 Dead, Dozens Hospitalized In Pennsylvania Turnpike Crash

Jan 5, 2020
Google Maps

Five people were killed and about 60 were injured on the Pennsylvania Turnpike early Sunday morning, when a loaded bus went out of control on a hill and rolled over, setting off a chain reaction that involved three tractor-trailers and a passenger car.

Courtesey of Bill Brittain

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: a member of the politically notable Costa family has drawn a progressive challenger in a Democratic primary. But state Sen. Jay Costa is hoping the family resemblance ends there.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald was sworn in to a new term shortly after noon Thursday, a formal event at Soldiers and Sailors Hall attended by some of the region’s leading elected officials. But by the end of a County Council meeting that evening, there were already signs that his third term will be different from the previous two.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Construction of Pittsburgh’s proposed bus rapid transit or BRT system is expected to begin in 2021, a year later than initially planned.

Chris Potter / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Council is often overlooked. After all, its main responsibilities typically consist of routine matters like approving budgets and political appointees named by the county executive. But that pattern could change after three new members are sworn in Thursday.

SARAH SCHNEIDER / 90.5 WESA

Real estate taxes are going up for residents of the Pittsburgh Public Schools district, but more must be done  to ensure the district's long-term fiscal health

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

McKeesport is one of the largest municipalities in Allegheny County after Pittsburgh, but has taken longer to bounce back from de-industrialization. 

Steven Senne / AP

The U.S. government declared this year that 20 counties in western Pennsylvania have effectively ended veteran homelessness.

Chris Squier / 90.5 WESA

All babies born at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital in Oakland from now until the end of January will have five trees planted in their honor. The effort is through the nonprofit Plant Five for Life, which has a lofty long-term goal of planting trees for every baby born in Allegheny County.

Art by Jim Rugg / Courtesy of the artist

Jim Rugg is a comics artist with a penchant for drawing female protagonists.

Rugg, who's 42, traces the tendency to his high school days.

“In art class, I remember the teacher pointing out that I did not draw women well,” he said, laughing. “You hear that stuff as an artist, and that’s what you dedicate yourself to.”

Poorest PA Families Struggle Through Holidays As Cash Welfare Stuck At 1990s Levels

Dec 23, 2019
Matt Smith / Keystone Crossroads

Christmas is Carissa Coolbaugh’s favorite holiday.

Huntingdon Passes LGBTQ Anti-Discrimination Law, A First For Rural PA

Dec 23, 2019
Emma Lee / WHYY

It was a 2010 announcement about a Civil War cemetery that galvanized 58-year-old Anthony Bullett to act.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The population of the City of Pittsburgh has stabilized, according to five-year estimates just out from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. However, the same data show a rapid loss of the city’s black residents.

RiverWise Brings Sustainability To Beaver County

Dec 19, 2019
RiverWise

Beaver County is going through some big changes. Shell is building a multibillion-dollar ethane cracker which will use ethane from the region’s natural gas to produce the building blocks of plastic. The plant will bring an anticipated 600 jobs to the region, but also air and water pollution.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Public Schools board will have to meet later this month to determine how it will fund a budget it approved Wednesday night.

During a more than two-hour meeting, the board approved a $665.6 million budget, in a 5-4 vote. That budget included funding from a proposed 2.3 percent property tax increase. But in a separate vote, the property tax increase failed 4-4.

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