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The New News

It’s said the stock market climbs a wall of worry. Equally so, society. And for the past several years, there’s been great concern about journalism. The common wisdom is that, with newspapers significantly weakened, citizens no longer get the information they need about their communities, and public officials who would be held accountable by the …

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Pittsburgh Today & Tomorrow Report 2011

In January 1983, unemployment in metropolitan Pittsburgh reached 17.1 percent as deep recession and structural change rocked the region. Steel strikes raged, and famous mills went cold. In time, an unwelcome realization settled in: Pittsburgh would never be the city it had been. As the Bruce Springsteen lyrics went, “Foreman says these jobs are going, …

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A Touch of Gray

A thick report called “Boomers in the ’Burgh” arrived the other day, proposing that the city pitch AARP candidates on retiring here. The newest twist on the most-livable-city theme rang a bell. Back in the day, I wrote copy for a local inventions marketing firm, detailing the vast potential for improbable new ideas at $25 …

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Literary Pittsburgh

Kathleen “kit” McCafferty, a victim of childhood sexual abuse, has never discussed her trauma with anyone, and its residual rage and pain have left her estranged from her shell-shocked husband and grown children. Now approaching death, Kit is determined to complete and bequeath to her family a series of confessional notebooks, in order to break …

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Zanos, Hagan, Fazio, Shogan, Musick, Cianca, Honsberger

Yvonne Zanos, 60 A former Miss Pennsylvania runner-up, she was a tall, striking woman who became beloved in Pittsburgh as KDKA-TV’s reliable and savvy consumer reporter. Known for her warm and winning personality, she was also a tough advocate for consumers. Zanos believed in and was dedicated to television’s public service role, which included her …

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Beyond the Neighborhood

For those of us raising families in the 1970s and 1980s, Fred Rogers was that patient, soft-spoken gentleman who made extraordinary connections to our children on the same TV set that usually carried appallingly bad programming. Fred certainly was that wonderful television teacher, but he was much more. He was the genius behind the most …

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Riverlife & Mayor Luke Ravenstahl

In the late 1990s, Teresa Heinz and others gazed at the new Alcoa headquarters and its North Shore neighbor, the new Lincoln Properties. Both occupied key riverfront spots. But compared with the standard-setting Alcoa structure, the residential development looked like a Motel 6. An idea was born—to conceive a holistic vision of the riverfront with …

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Ancient Lessons

After turbulent flights, impenetrable storms and closed airports, I reached Tucson in the wee hours. I went to meet three college friends and our former professor for a weekend seminar in that city of cacti and mountains. Three things reminded me of college days: missing sleep, not finishing the reading and contemplating what it means …

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Underlying Problems/Solutions

The impact of population decline was very much in the news at the end of last year, a reminder that, for all the accolades at the recent G-20 Summit about Pittsburgh having moved beyond its industrial past, painful choices still face the region, particularly its local governments and major service institutions. I have in mind …

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Smilin’ Charlie Schwab

The Christmas season was in full flush Dec. 12 1900 at the University Club in New York, where the city’s financial and industrial elite gathered to honor Charles Michael Schwab, the president of Carnegie Steel. A youthful 38, Schwab already had held the position for three years. Attendees included railroaders William Vanderbilt, Chauncey Depew and …

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The Mighty Oak Barrel

When you think that you must have taken a wrong turn, you are almost there. The Mighty Oak Barrel sits at the end of a little twig of a road that is also the last chance for anyone who panics at the approaching Hulton Bridge and swerves to the right. And when you first lay …

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A Passion for Baking

Mary-kay Fiore’s life turned out a little differently than she expected. But it sure has a sweet ending. In 2001, the single mother of three found herself downsized out of a corporate job and facing a crossroads. She had baked for years, as a way to pass the nervous hours until 11 p.m., when her …

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A Friend in Need

Eleanor Ott grew up in a family that encouraged her to pursue her passion in life. What that passion was didn’t become clear until after she left her Lawrence, Kan. home as a high school valedictorian with a college scholarship. She discovered it among refugee families from Iraq, Burundi, Somalia and other desperate lands whose …

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David M. Matter

If there’s one thread that runs through my life, it’s the importance of mentorship. I was born in 1946, which makes me a baby-boomer—barely—and grew up in Carrick. Overall, I had a pretty normal upbringing.My first mentor was a high school teacher named Bob Hickey. I had him for German, and he became a dear friend …

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Thank You for the Dance

Every Tuesday and Wednesday morning last fall, students in Laurie Collier’s and Maureen Kedzuf’s fifth-grade class lined up in escort position at Arlington Accelerated Academy and headed to the gymnasium to dance. They were among the more than 300 fifth-graders from six elementary schools participating in Dancing Classrooms’ inaugural year in the Pittsburgh Public Schools. …

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Sarris, Stever, Height, Poupko, Bold, Stewart, Rust

Frank Sarris, 78 Sarris was a self-made man whose generosity helped a spectrum of his fellow citizens—from community organizations in his hometown of Canonsburg to the University of Pittsburgh, where he donated $5 million to the liver transplant program. He and his wife Athena were a team, and in the 1950s they began experimenting with …

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Homewood Children’s Village, Civic Complacency

Quietly, so far, an exciting change is developing in Homewood. A project called the Homewood Children’s Village is taking shape with the aim of bringing a wide array of social services to bear to help youngsters survive and thrive in one of Pittsburgh’s toughest neighborhoods. The leader of the Homewood project is John Wallace, a …

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A New Chapter

After 26 years at the helm of the Post-Gazette, John G. Craig Jr. founded the Regional Indicators project and its Web site, pittsburghtoday.org. And since this magazine began five years ago, every issue has contained one of his reports on the state of the region. His goal was to provide what he called “The city-state …

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La Petite Maison

Unlike most of the homes designed by architect Brandon Smith, the stucco, brick and limestone residence in Squirrel Hill isn’t large or imposing. It was built in 1948 for a retired couple who were downsizing, but who wanted an elegant and formal town house. The result is something rare—a small home that boasts the structure …

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Riazzi, Khan, Sokol, Friedlander, Sega, Liang, Washburn

Richard Riazzi is president and CEO of Duquesne Light Co. and its affiliates. He returns to Pittsburgh from Wenatchee, Wash., where he has been the CEO and general manager of the Chelan County public utility district since 2006. Previously, he led the energy-generation, marketing and trading operations for Idaho Power, an investor-owned electric utility based …

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The Coast of Lake Erie

Pennsylvania’s Lake Erie coastline is a place of beauty, drama and hidden environmental treasures. The bluffs and beach along this shoreline and the nearby forested ravines and gorges, seasonal pools and interior tributaries, make a special destination for anyone intent on exploring Western Pennsylvania’s most interesting natural areas. The bluffs range from five to 90 …

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Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

There is a veteran haberdasher at a certain long-established men’s clothier in downtown Pittsburgh who watches birds. Let’s call him Kenny. Seeing this column one day, he asked me about an unusual avian visitor he saw in the trees of his yard. “It was black and white with a big red spot on its chest,” …

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