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.

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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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 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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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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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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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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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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Energy’s Big Shift

A decade ago, as Consol Energy’s 150th anniversary drew near, top executives began to take stock in where the company stood as a leading producer of coal and where that path would take it. Coal was in what CEO Nicholas DeIuliis called a “supercycle.” It was the workhorse of the national power grid and less …

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The Last Coke Works

At the Clairton Public Library in the industrial Monongahela River valley, patrons can check out “Moby Dick,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the adventures of Curious George and any number of Nancy Drew mysteries. They can read issues of Vogue and Popular Science. They can take home the music of Elton John and Rihanna, or the …

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No Money Down

It’s 11 a.m. in Judge Jeffery Manning’s courtroom. The attorneys are ready. The Allegheny County Common Pleas Court president judge is on the bench. The video screen comes alive to reveal the business of the morning, a series of people in orange, jail-issue jumpsuits: One young man with a retail theft charge and a drug …

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Going It Alone

Most of the women who trust their children to Jamie Tabb’s cottage childcare business in Turtle Creek are struggling to get by under circumstances she knows well. She’s a single woman raising children on her own, as they are. She’s been employed and poor at the same time. She’s had to allow limited public transit …

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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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Path to Delinquency

Aaron Thomas was 14 when a Pittsburgh police drug task force raided the Garfield home where he lived with his parents, whose lives were ruled by an addiction to cocaine and heroin. That led to his first encounter with the juvenile justice system. But the time he would spend in and out of jail, youth …

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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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