Pittsburgh’s Healthy Ride Bike Share System To Start May 31

Pittsburgh’s bike share system will begin May 31, organizers announced Monday.

The rental network of 50 stations across 11 neighborhoods will provide access to 500 bikes. Dubbed Healthy Ride, the system will be operated by Pittsburgh Bike Share, which was established in 2012 with the goal of starting a public bike sharing system.

“We are excited to bring bike share to the city of Pittsburgh,” said a statement from Executive Director David White. “Residents, businesses and community groups have all shown tremendous support and enthusiasm for the launch. Healthy Ride will provide the city of Pittsburgh with an active transportation choice for locals and visitors.”

Rentals will be available for $2 per half hour. Monthly membership plans will cost $12 a month for unlimited 30-minute rides and $20 for unlimited 60-minute rides. Users can pre-register for free on the program’s website or at the rental kiosks at stations.

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In The Lead: Carnegie / The Comeback Continues

Hans and Virginia Gruenert wanted to start a theater company when they lived in New York City. That’s where you’d do something like that.

But Off the Wall Theater Co. was destined to be born in Western Pennsylvania when Mr. Gruenert’s work brought the couple here in 2007. And after five years in Washington, Pa., they found a better fit in Carnegie.

Their decision happened to mesh with the borough’s trajectory of late.

The economic doldrums that gripped the region for years didn’t miss Carnegie. Then in 2004, when Chartiers Creek overran the business district as a remnant of Hurricane Ivan, dozens of businesses were damaged and many did not return.

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http://www.post-gazette.com/in-the-lead-2015/reports/2015/05/14/In-The-Lead-Carnegie-The-comeback-continues

Downtown Pittsburgh Continues On Strong Growth Trajectory

DSC01801Developers announced about three dozen economic development projects totaling $526 million in Pittsburgh’s Greater Downtown in 2014, capitalizing on dramatic growth in recent years, according to a report released Thursday.

“With more than $5 billion of transformative investment in Downtown Pittsburgh over the last decade, Downtown is well-positioned,” said Jeremy Waldrup, president and CEO of the nonprofit Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

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Cargo Train Derails In Pittsburgh’s Hazelwood Section

No injuries have been reported in a freight train derailment in the Hazelwood neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

The train went off the rails about 10:15 a.m. on tracks near Irvine Street, according to emergency dispatchers.

About 10 freight cars derailed, and some of the cars blocked Irvine where the tracks crossed.

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Pyrex, Pa.: Charleroi Celebrating The Centennial Of Its Famed Product

A name change is being cooked up for Charleroi.

Beginning May 16, the Washington County town is going to be named for probably its best-known product: Pyrex.

“For 100 days, we’ll be putting up signs saying, ‘Welcome to Pyrex, Pa.’ or changing the name of events to things like the Pyrex Baseball Tournament,” says Mike Scheffki, brand manager of Pyrex, the ovenware manufactured there.

It is part of the centennial celebration for Pyrex, the heatproof ovenware Scheffki estimates is in 80 million homes in North America.

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Mt. Lebanon Landlord With History Of Housing Violations Sued By State Attorney General’s Office

A Mt. Lebanon landlord who has been repeatedly fined for failing to have water service to his properties in Carrick and elsewhere – and who was accused of running a garden hose from someone else’s property to get water – is being sued by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office.

The complaint, filed today in Common Pleas Court, names as defendants Davin Gartley, as well as his companies, Davin Investments Inc. and R.A.E.D. Investments Inc.

According to the complaint, the defendants operate at least 11 properties, including 2531-2539 Brownsville Road in Carrick, which has been the subject of the water problems.

The lawsuit alleges that the defendants are violating Pennsylvania’s Consumer Protection Law by failing to maintain habitable properties, failing to provide water service and failing to return tenant security deposits.

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http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2015/05/12/Mt-Lebanon-landlord-with-history-of-housing-violations-sued-by-state-Attorney-General-s-office/stories/201505120157

Braddock’s Backers See Lots Of Potential In Community’s Future

When talking about Braddock, Molly Rice and Jeffrey Carpenter avoid the word “revitalization.”

The term, they say, implies what already exists in the community isn’t vital, and, therefore, doesn’t apply to the historic town.

“Braddock isn’t what you might think it is. There are so many elements and varieties of colors and layers and things to see,” says Rice, a playwright who’s working with Carpenter’s Bricolage Production Company and Real/Time Interventions to bring her “Saints Tour” immersive theater experience to Braddock in May and June.

The show is one of many efforts to draw outsiders in while the community continues to move forward from its unstable past.

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Hazelwood: Almono Gives Neighborhood A Shot At Recovery

Salvation sits just across the railroad tracks from Alex Bodnar’s Hungarian restaurant on Second Avenue in Hazelwood.

It doesn’t look like much now, just acres and acres of vacant land, graded but idle. But the redevelopment potential of the 178-acre site has raised the hopes of the struggling city neighborhood.

“The good Lord is answering my prayer,” Mr. Bodnar beamed as he stood in the kitchen of his restaurant preparing a bowl of goulash.

For much of the last century, the Monongahela riverfront site has been closely tied to the neighborhood’s fortunes. For decades, the massive coke works that dominated the land brought prosperity. Jobs were plentiful and Second Avenue teemed with grocery stores, shops and restaurants.

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http://www.post-gazette.com/in-the-lead-2015/reports/2015/05/11/In-The-Lead-Hazelwood-Almono-gives-neighborhood-a-shot-at-recovery/stories/201505140090

Entrepreneurial Meet Up Group Looks For Members In Mid-Mon Valley

Editor’s note:  A reader sent in this request – if you are interested, contact Rick.

I’m trying to start an entrepreneur meet up in the Charleroi, PA area.  Looking for people interested in joining me.  I can be contacted at 724-992-8695.
Rick

Study: Pittsburgh’s Network Of Riverfront Parks Contributes To Boom In Development

DSC01818Pittsburgh’s riverfront parks system is not only a haven for rest, relaxation and recreation but an economic powerhouse that has helped to generate billions of dollars in development over the past 15 years, a study has found.

In that time, the $130 million invested in the 13-mile Three Rivers Park has helped to produce nearly $4.1 billion in development on and near the riverfront, according to the study by Sasaki Associates, a Massachusetts-based architectural and planning firm.

In addition, the study, commissioned by Riverlife and to be released today, determined that since 2001, property values along that stretch have jumped by 60 percent compared with 32 percent in the rest of the city.

“The pattern in Pittsburgh and in other cities across the country is clear: properties with close proximity to high quality park infrastructure increase in value more than properties that do not,” the report stated.

Read more:

http://www.post-gazette.com/business/development/2015/05/07/Study-Pittsburgh-s-network-of-riverfront-parks-contributes-to-boom-in-development/stories/201505070094

Pittsburgh Needs 21,000 Affordable Homes, Study Says

DSC01828Mayor Bill Peduto’s newly named Affordable Housing Task Force has daunting numbers to chip away at. For starters, a shortage of 21,000 homes in Pittsburgh that are affordable enough for families of four whose income is $24,000, which is 30 percent of the area’s median income for that size household.

Attorney Robert Damewood of Regional Housing Legal Services called the shortage “severe” and said that throughout Allegheny County, more than 30,000 people live in housing they can’t afford, most paying more than 50 percent of their income on housing. “This makes them very insecure and at risk of eviction.”

The  has just issued a report on a situation it expects to escalate as rents rise in more neighborhoods.

Mr. Damewood researched and prepared the report for the Housing Alliance’s Building Inclusive Communities work group. It recommends the city establish inclusive zoning, assuring a percentage of affordable units in any development, either by mandate or incentives to developers, such as land use approvals, height density bonuses and additional build-outs at no extra cost. In flat markets, a community land trust or land bank can preserve properties for affordable development.

Read more:

http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2015/05/06/Pittsburgh-needs-21-000-affordable-homes-task-force-reports/stories/201505060095

Allegheny Health Network’s $600M Plan To Expand Reach Depends On Highmark

Allegheny Health Network proposes investing part of $175 million from Highmark Inc. in renovations and technology upgrades at its Allegheny General and West Penn hospitals, anticipating that they will accommodate more patients when Highmark insurance subscribers lose in-network access to UPMC next year.

The Highmark-owned hospital system would build outpatient medical centers and expand emergency, trauma and women’s health services to underserved parts of Western Pennsylvania as part of a spending plan that executives say will help it better compete with UPMC.

“The entire amount … will be used for capital improvements at Allegheny Health Network to fill in certain service line gaps,” Chief Financial Officer Karen Hanlon said during a state Department of Insurance hearing Monday. “No portion of the requested funding will go to pay operating expenses.”

UPMC Treasurer Tal Heppenstall Jr. said Allegheny Health Network is in worse financial condition than Highmark has reported and chided the company for its “profound lack of financial transparency.” He said it appears Highmark is hiding huge losses in “sporadic, fragmented and murky” financial statements.

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CEO Takes The Blame As Sales Continue To Fall At Vitamin Retailer GNC

Mike Archbold fell on his sword Thursday, calling an unexpected drop in first-quarter sales at GNC a “self-inflicted wound.”

Archbold, who was hired as CEO in August to turn around a yearlong slump in sales and profit, said he mistakenly cut the Downtown-based vitamin and supplement retailer’s advertising budget by $5 million.

“We intentionally did not deploy a full slate of marketing. … This caused us to talk to our customers less, a lot less,” he told analysts. “To be clear, this was a mistake.”

Not a factor in the decline, he said, was negative publicity from a probe by the attorney general of New York that questioned the purity and authenticity of some herbal supplements sold by GNC and other retailers.

Read more: http://triblive.com/business/headlines/8253719-74/sales-million-cents#ixzz3YuG3RfYW
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More U.S. Steel Layoffs Coming, CEO Says

U.S. Steel Corp. expects to lay off more workers this year as the Downtown-based steel manufacturer accelerates cost-cutting to deal with a significant downturn in demand, CEO Mario Longhi said Wednesday.

The company has laid off 2,800 workers since the beginning of the year as it reduces steel production at all its plants in North America. It has issued notices to 9,000 of its workers warning them that they could be cut which gives the company flexibility to react to worsening conditions.

Longhi told analysts that the number of layoffs will go higher, but he didn’t provide specifics.

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Plum High School Teacher Hires Attorney Who Also Represents Jerry Sandusky

A Plum High School teacher has hired an attorney who also represents Jerry Sandusky.

Drew Zoldak, 40, of New Kensington, has hired Butler county defense attorney Alexander H. Lindsay Jr. to defend him against charges of witness intimidation.

Lindsay also represents Sandusky in the former Penn State assistant football coach’s post conviction relief act appeal of his conviction for molesting young boys.

Zoldak is accused of identifying a girl in his class as one who allegedly had sex with Joseph Ruggieri, 40, of Plum, an English teacher at the school charged with institutional sexual assault, corruption of minors and witness intimidation.

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Plum Officials: District Won’t Inhibit ‘Constitutionally Protected Speech’

Plum Borough School District administrators and borough police walked back assertions they made last week suggesting students could be arrested for “irresponsible” talk or social media postings about investigations into teacher sex abuse allegations.

“The district will not prevent or inhibit any individuals from engaging in constitutionally protected speech,” said Superintendent Timothy Glasspool in a letter the district released Monday. Glasspool did not respond to requests for comment.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania said the district’s statement was “more cryptic than we would have liked,” but the group said it accepted the clarification of the issue, according to ACLU-PA legal director Witold Walczak.

The ACLU became involved when local police and high school administrators held an assembly and cautioned students against discussing the investigation publicly, telling them they could be arrested for “irresponsible” and “immature” talk, tweets, texts, emails, or posts to Facebook.

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Allegheny County DA, Monroeville Police Team To Reduce Drug Activity, Violent Crime

The Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office will work with Monroeville police to reduce drug activity and violent crime in the eastern suburbs, officials said Thursday.

Drug activity in Monroeville has increased in the past six or seven years as Pittsburgh police efforts pushed drug sales out of Homewood and into nearby suburbs, District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. said.

“In a relatively short period of time, I think we can knock those numbers down,” Zappala said at a news conference in the Monroeville municipal building.

Police are monitoring the movement of narcotics in Monroeville’s business districts, he said. His office and other law enforcement agencies plan to work with Monroeville police to refocus the department’s efforts to monitor certain areas of the municipality.

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Third Plum High School Teacher Charged In Connection With Student-Sex Case

Plum police on Wednesday filed witness intimidation charges against a Plum high school forensic science teacher.

Drew Zoldak, 40, of New Kensington, was charged with two misdemeanor counts of intimidation of a witness or victim.

Zoldak was arraigned just after 11:30 a.m. in front of Magisterial District Judge Linda Zucco.

According to the criminal complaint, after investigators from the Allegheny District Attorney’s office interviewed Zoldak, he apologized to his class for being absent from class and singled out as the cause a victim one of the other Plum teachers is accused of having sex with. According to the complaint, Zoldak then called the victim to the front of the class and asked her if she would be okay with the following week’s topic: sexual assault.

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Planned Smallman Place Condos In Strip District Selling Fast

Sales agreements are in place for about two-thirds of the 36 condominiums that a suburban Philadelphia developer is planning in the Strip District, months before construction is set to begin.

The Smallman Place condos went on the market in the first week of April.

“If you have the right project at the right place and the right price, you can be successful,” said developer Jack Benoff of Solara Ventures Inc.

Benoff has been one of Pittsburgh’s most active condo developers in recent years. He converted 941 Penn Ave., Downtown, and the Otto Milk building in the Strip District into condo buildings that sold out quickly, with the exception of a $1.8 million penthouse at Otto Milk that’s now under agreement.

Read more: http://triblive.com/business/headlines/8209221-74/condos-district-smallman#ixzz3XxjNdmxS
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