Regional News

Does Air Quality Matter to Young Workers?

As their due date neared last fall, Ryan Poling and his wife faced a difficult decision. Did they want to raise their daughter in Pittsburgh, the city in which they’ve built a life during the last nine years, or pick up and move across the country, near Poling’s family in California? “It’s really hard to …

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Working Women: Their Numbers Rise but Wages Lag

Deana Keenan’s career unfolds like an inspirational film. As a young woman, she left college to have children. She spent years working low-wage jobs as a single mother until she reached a breaking point when her oldest son was murdered. She picked herself up and sought out job training programs in Pittsburgh, where she found …

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Bridging the Digital Divide

On a Tuesday afternoon in October, a dozen teenagers gathered in a second-floor room at the Carnegie Library in East Liberty. They didn’t come to check out books. They were building a haunted house based on Disney fairy tales. Two 17-year-old sisters, Hope and Honesty LeGrande, cut giant feathered wings for the costume they designed …

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Toxic Chemical Emissions: The Region’s Top 10 Air Polluters

Although the region’s air has improved dramatically from the height of Pittsburgh’s industrial past, southwestern Pennsylvania remains home to factories and power plants that release millions of pounds of toxic chemicals into the air. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency uses Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) data to track toxic chemicals released into the air, water and …

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Inconspicuous and Dangerous

The heavy smoke is gone. But particulates 30 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair and gases formed by the reaction of sunlight and fossil fuels exhaust remain as the region’s most widespread, stubborn and dangerous air quality problems. Unlike the smoke that draped large swaths of southwestern Pennsylvania during its industrial heyday, …

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Taming Air Pollution: The Region’s Century-Old Challenge

Southwestern Pennsylvania and air quality have long had a complicated relationship. For the better part of a century, the region had been a place so polluted from the soot of industry and homes heated by coal that street lamps were lit in the afternoon and walking a single block could ruin the collar of a …

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A Question of Learning

As a digital revolution changes classrooms across the region and country, one key question lingers at the end of each school day: Do the new technologies actually enhance students’ learning? The answer is unclear. After decades of research in fields such as cognitive science, the debate is no longer about whether digital technologies have the …

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Rethinking Education

Janice Smith’s fifth-grade reading class at Central Elementary in the Elizabeth Forward School District was supposed to be working on a book report. Huddled around iPads, the students chatted with one another, pointing and swiping at the screens. No one was being shushed, few were sitting square in their seats, and no one was holding …

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Regional Wages Fall

The average weekly wage plummeted in southwestern Pennsylvania during the first quarter of the year driven by sharp reductions in management pay, a weakened energy industry and other factors, regional economy experts say. The average weekly wage fell 5.8 percent across the seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area to $1,027 in the first quarter of 2016 …

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Remaking Learning

In retrospect, the gong makes a lot of sense. It was 2009, and a packed crowd huddled in the basement theater of the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, watching and laughing as one by one, teachers, technologists, parents, gamers and roboticists took to the stage to give their pitch. They had three minutes each to describe …

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Involuntary Mental Health Commitment

Teenagers and African Americans face the greatest risk of being involuntarily committed to mental health facilities in Allegheny County, a recent study reports. Some 37,750 people were involuntarily committed for mental issues from 2002 through 2013, according to the Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) study. An involuntary commitment occurs when someone is found …

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Going Long

In the city where the Pirates’ Roberto Clemente opened the door for generations of Hispanic ballplayers, employers ranging from local corporations to government are taking a cue from the sports industry’s most celebrated hiring policy to diversify a workforce that is among the least racially and ethnically diverse in the nation. Allegheny County government and …

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Seeds of Opportunity

A handful of business incubators have set up shop in Pittsburgh neighborhoods where vacant overgrown lots, faded signs and boarded up storefronts suggest that the local economy has struggled for decades. Nonprofits such as Urban Innovation21 and Thrill Mill are taking steps to redefine the image of incubators as solely focused on highly educated tech …

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Is Better Good Enough?

A standing-room-only audience has packed the Avalon Municipal Building on a rain-soaked April evening to hear Allegheny County Health Department officials explain the latest consent decree to correct air quality violations at the coke works across the river. It’s a tough crowd. Most live in the north boroughs near the Shenango, Inc. plant. They know …

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Pittsburgh Emerges as a Low-Price Leader in Health Insurance

Pittsburgh has emerged as one of the nation’s lowest-priced health insurance markets under the Affordable Care Act. Insurance marketplaces created by the Act offer a menu of private sector plans covering a range of benefits packages and premium prices. Some consumers are eligible for income-based tax credits that can reduce premiums and, in certain cases, …

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Attendance Matters

Juvenile court Judge Dwayne Woodruff sees the worst of the problem. “By the time kids get to me they’ve missed 50, 60, 80 days of school,” he says. It’s a common thread running through the Allegheny County cases over which he presides, regardless of whether the student is delinquent or in need of protective custody …

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