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.

Is Cannabis Safe and Effective?

Antoine Douaihy is intrigued by the use of marijuana to treat chronic pain. As an addiction specialist, he’s keenly aware of the value of safe and effective alternatives to prescribing opioids. Several studies suggest pot could be one, at least with some patients, and pain is one of 21 state-approved conditions that get you a …

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High Times for Cannabis

Solveo Wellness opened its doors as Pittsburgh’s first medical marijuana dispensary in February 2018 to customers young and old who braved the cold in a line that wrapped around its Squirrel Hill building. It was warmer in August, but the scene was the same when the dispensary added cannabis flower to its menu. If that …

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Degrees of Influence

Question: Who in Allegheny County is more likely to own the home they live in—residents with a college degree, those with some college or other post-secondary schooling, or those who never took their formal education beyond high school? It’s not the person with a college degree. Some 72 percent of residents with no more than …

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Local Economy Stays Healthy

Pittsburgh’s spirited bid fell short of landing Amazon’s second headquarters and the 25,000 jobs it promised last year, but the southwestern Pennsylvania economy continued encouraging trends in job growth, wages and unemployment on its own. Without the jolt of such a major employment stimulus, the region’s hopes are pinned on creating jobs with the companies …

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More People Are Leaving the Region. Does It matter?

Sometime in 2008, more people began moving into the cities and suburbs of southwestern Pennsylvania from other parts of the country than were leaving for places and opportunities elsewhere. It was a watershed moment, the long-awaited reversal of a decades-long trend of being on the losing end of U.S. migration patterns. It proved to be …

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How Healthy are Allegheny County Residents?

In their own view, people in Allegheny County are generally healthier than the nation’s population. They’re also smoking less. Only 16 percent of county residents overall described their general health as fair or poor in the Pittsburgh Regional Quality of Life Survey conducted in June. Nationally, 18.4 percent of Americans say they’re in fair or …

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Mandating Affordable Housing: A Complex Zoning Challenge

One Pittsburgh neighborhood could soon test a brand of zoning that requires developers to include affordable housing in new market-rate projects as a way to build the inventory of units available for residents earning less than the city’s median income. Pittsburgh recently joined cities in 25 states that have adopted some form of inclusionary zoning, …

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Desperate for Affordable Housing, Cities Try Rewriting Zoning Laws

The last Penn Plaza apartments were vacated on a cold February day in 2017, ending an exodus of 200 tenants from one of the largest complexes of affordable housing in Pittsburgh. News that the private owner planned to raze the apartments to accommodate upscale development caught the city off guard a year earlier and taxed …

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The Quality of Life Survey Results Are In

Allegheny County residents say their quality of life has improved since they were last surveyed seven years ago, with more of them reporting rising incomes and expressing greater confidence in the local economy. Pittsburgh’s bid to become Amazon’s new headquarters gets a thumbs-up from a majority of county residents, who also favor loosening the reins …

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Airing Concern

Historically lower ozone pollution levels in southwestern Pennsylvania do not impress residents of Allegheny County whose concern is rising over the quality of the air they breathe. Seven years ago, air quality wasn’t a problem in the minds of 47 percent of county residents. Today, only 32 percent of Allegheny County residents share that view, …

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Scrimping to Get By

Paying their housing costs is a struggle for an alarming number of Americans across the country and Allegheny County is no exception. Nearly one-third of Americans spend at least 30 percent of their income on housing. The number of households dealing with such costs has risen from 16 million in 2001 to more than 38 …

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State Store Monopoly Wins Few Hearts

If it were up to them, Allegheny County residents would put an end to Pennsylvania’s state store system, which has given the state a monopoly on the sale of wine and spirits since the repeal of prohibition. And that feeling is widespread, according to a survey conducted by Pittsburgh Today and the University of Pittsburgh …

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The Gerrymandering Fix

Pennsylvania voters go to the polls Tuesday in congressional districts redrawn by state Supreme Court justices who decided the old boundaries unconstitutionally favored one political party over another. While Allegheny County residents agree gerrymandering is a problem, most favor a different way of going about making sure it doesn’t occur again. The state’s high court …

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Work Disrupted

The past and future of work collide on a 178-acre graded-flat stretch of brownfield in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Hazelwood. There, on what is known as Hazelwood Green, the skeletal remains of Mill 19 stand as one of the last reminders of the Jones and Laughlin steel works that spanned the Monongahela River to the …

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The Economic Outlook for 2018

tronger hiring last year, rising wages and upcoming tax cuts lead those who read the economic tea leaves to be cautiously optimistic that 2018 could reward southwestern Pennsylvania with the largest increase in job growth in five years, finally shaking the malaise that works to contract the local labor force, send residents packing and stifle …

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Gaining Critical Mass

Alfred Hunt knew a good idea when he saw it. And Charles Martin Hall had one. In 1886, the 23-year-old chemist had discovered a smelting process to make aluminum inexpensively while working in a lab he cobbled together in a shed behind his parent’s house in northern Ohio. Hunt, a Pittsburgh metallurgist, realized its commercial …

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Region Gets Average Marks for Senior Livability

The Pittsburgh region has filled a trophy case with awards for being judged the “most livable” place in the nation by a variety of publications and organizations. But when the livability of senior citizens is considered, the region is less than a standout, an AARP index suggests. AARP scores the livability of U.S. counties based …

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It Wears You Down

Caring for her father fell to Patrice Cottrell about nine years ago. It involved a few errands, at first. Doctor visits, marshaling his medications, coordinating health care and financial matters and scouting out and evaluating long-term care possibilities followed as his health declined. There were late-night calls when he was anxious about living alone, but …

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Airport Overhaul

As birthday celebrations go, this one was fairly harsh. The local news media was gathered at Pittsburgh International Airport’s Midfield Terminal on a late-summer day last September. Earlier, they’d reported the terminal complex, once lauded for its innovative design, had turned 25. Now, with cameras rolling, airport officials noted its inefficiencies, declared it was time …

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Air Rules

Bluer skies over southwestern Pennsylvania owe a debt to local, state and federal regulations that have evolved over decades to spur technological advancements and investment in controlling air pollutants from industrial plants to the cars we drive. It wasn’t until the City of Pittsburgh adopted its Smoke Control Ordinance in 1941 that the dense smoke …

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Up in the Air: The Final Chapter

Air polllution’s place in the history of southwestern Pennsylvania is as prominent as the region’s mighty rivers and the steel industry that once crowded their banks. For nearly a century, it was a defining characteristic in the eyes of visitors, who pulled no punches when describing the grim conditions they found. “In truth, Pittsburg [sic] …

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Petrochemical Alley

Shell Chemical Appalachia’s petrochemical complex has begun to rise from a dusty Beaver County brownfield that follows a slow bend in the Ohio River near Monaca. It took hefty tax incentives to secure it. The nation’s largest zinc smelter was razed to make room for it. More than 7 million cubic feet of earth were …

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