Jeffery Fraser

Jeffery is Pittsburgh Today's senior editor, a Pittsburgh-based freelance writer and frequent contributor to Pittsburgh Quarterly. In his past life, he was a reporter and editor for newspapers large and small, only one of which is still in business. His magazine and newspaper reporting has won numerous awards.

Pandemic Tests Resiliency of State’s Small Businesses

Most small businesses in southwestern Pennsylvania and across the state have found ways to adapt to COVID-related sales losses, social restrictions and other bruising conditions. But the lingering pandemic has darkened their outlook. Nearly one third of business leaders doubt conditions will return to pre-pandemic levels even after the virus is tamed, according to a …

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Local COVID Cases Are Second-Lowest Among Benchmark Regions

COVID-19 cases rose 29 percent in Allegheny County during the first two weeks of the month. Still, the county’s infection rate is only half the national average—an indication of how cities and towns across the United States are struggling to blunt the most aggressive surge of the coronavirus since the pandemic began nine months ago. …

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Stubborn Addiction Crisis Grows More Worrisome

Southwestern Pennsylvania entered 2020 dealing with a stubborn public health crisis. Drug overdose deaths, despite a briefly encouraging period of decline, were rising again. Three months later, the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, raising the risk of addiction and relapse, those who work with addicted men and women say. The pandemic has kindled fear and uncertainty and …

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Reset Button

It was an obscure sign of the concern mounting over the threat the coronavirus pandemic poses to the future of boroughs, cities and townships. For the first time, “voluntary disincorporation,” the idea of allowing municipalities to shed their political boundaries, was on the agenda of the leadership arm of the Congress of Neighboring Communities, an …

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COVID Hammers Consumer Confidence in Pittsburgh

The COVID-19 pandemic has beaten down southwestern Pennsylvania’s confidence in the local and national economies, employment and personal finances. Even with sentiment rising in the past two months, the outlook of most consumers remains bleak. Confidence has swung wildly since March as consumers for the first time learned what life is like during a global …

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Pittsburgh Gets Fresh Image

A new branding campaign to raise awareness of southwestern Pennsylvania’s charms and promise is making a bid for attention in a world distracted by pandemic. The brand—“Pittsburgh region. Next is now”—positions the region as an iconic and innovative place poised for the future. Unveiled by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development yesterday, the campaign promotes …

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How Allegheny County Spends its $212 Million CARES Package

Allegheny County unveiled a new COVID-19 testing center in McKeesport last week as health officials braced for the confluence of the coronavirus outbreak and the approaching flu season. The center, which can perform 200 tests a day, didn’t cost county taxpayers one dime. It is the highest profile example to date of how the county …

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Light the Bridges for a Gleaming Downtown

Dressing the Rachel Carson Bridge with 27,000 color-changing LED lights got the public’s attention in 2016. And the popularity of the temporary installation, done as part of the City of Pittsburgh’s bicentennial celebration, bought it an extended 18-month run. If that’s the case, says former Allegheny County Chief Executive Jim Roddey, why not artistically illuminate …

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Venting off Steam… and Turning It Into a Musical Downtown Clock

Lynn Dunbar is well acquainted with the vertical steam pipe that juts from the pavement at Penn Avenue and Seventh Street in Downtown Pittsburgh for patrons of the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts and the rest of the Cultural District to see. Her husband is in the Pittsburgh Symphony, she once worked for the …

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‘It’s Been Crazy’: Gun Sales Break Records

Gooch Ionadi has seen spikes in gun sales before. He’s come to expect a surge of buyers at his Smoke ‘N Guns shop when a mass shooting rekindles debate over gun control laws. And presidential elections are busy years, as a rule. But nothing compares to the last four months. “I’m seeing little old women, …

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Voter Registration High Despite Pandemic

Voter registration in southwestern Pennsylvania and across the state could surpass totals seen in the last presidential election year even as the coronavirus disrupts tried-and-true tactics for reaching and registering new voters. With three months left to register, Pennsylvania is 80,000 voters shy of surpassing the total number of registered voters who were eligible to …

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Could the Coronavirus Kill the Gasoline Tax?

A crisis in how to pay for roads and bridges with a gasoline tax had been worsening for decades. With Americans traveling less, the coronavirus pandemic is accelerating it. Fifty years ago, when the miles Americans traveled in their cars were soaring, a tax on every gallon of gasoline sold worked as a way pay …

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Breathing Bad Air

Air pollution from traffic and industrial stacks finds its way to most places in Allegheny County. But minority and low-income neighborhoods are more likely to endure the highest levels and the health risks that come with not being able to find respite from bad air, a University of Pittsburgh study reports. Researchers mapped black carbon …

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Billions Ride on Pandemic-Hampered Census

COVID-19 is quietly threatening southwestern Pennsylvania’s share of billions of federal dollars that will be critical if the region is to recover from the pandemic with hopes for a future of growth and vitality intact. For months, the pandemic has disrupted the decennial census, putting at risk efforts to get a complete count of the …

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Who’s Less Likely to Stay in Pittsburgh?

In southwestern Pennsylvania, where population has steadily been shrinking, the people least likely to see a future in the region include those under the age of 30, African Americans and residents with higher levels of education, a regional survey suggests. More than 8 in 10 Allegheny County residents overall plan on being in the region …

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Pitt Study: Soaring Municipal Failures Loom

More than 100 southwestern Pennsylvania municipalities will be in financial distress next year if the economy can’t shake free from the grip of the coronavirus and prevent budget reserves from being drained and tax revenues from drying up, a new study suggests. Municipal officials, uncertain of the duration of the outbreak and severity of the …

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“Historic Low Levels of Pollution”

Pittsburgh and surrounding neighborhoods received a respite from air pollution in the weeks after nonessential businesses were closed and residents were urged to stay at home and off the streets to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Fine particulate pollution and smog-making gases fell to levels rarely seen in Allegheny County from March 15 to …

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Now That the Money’s Gone

As regional banks brace for another wave of small business loan applications, questions surrounding the emergency federal program are front and center after the first $349 billion quickly ran out. Congress and the White House were reportedly near a deal late Monday that would add more than $300 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program, which …

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Shale Gas Was in Trouble, Then Came the Coronavirus

Shale gas produced by Appalachian region wells slipped 1.8 percent during the last three months. But what seems like a slight decline warns of a coming storm for an industry that has seen production rise consistently—and sometimes dramatically—every year since the gas-rich Marcellus play drew companies to southwestern Pennsylvania in droves more than a decade …

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Coronavirus May Strengthen Pittsburgh’s Ties to Wuhan

Jim Wolf set about retooling Pittsburgh’s flagging Sisters Cities program two years ago at the request of city Mayor Bill Peduto. He guided its reorganization. He watched it secure non-profit status, raise enough money to hire an executive director and begin to restore relationships with several international cities that had gone fallow. To signal its …

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Cleveland 11,000 – Pittsburgh 1

The housing bubble had burst and the nation was reeling from recession. The City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County were feeling the pain more than most places in 2009. Foreclosures were mounting by the thousands, and Fannie Mae and other lenders were desperate for a way to off-load the abandoned properties filling their books. They …

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Gauging K–12 Education Quality

Allegheny County residents are tough graders when assessing the performance of the public schools that educate 115,000 county children in grades kindergarten through 12, a far-ranging survey of their views on education suggests. Fewer than half give schools a better-than-fair rating for their class size, funding, student preparedness, parental involvement and diversity of the student …

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