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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Community College Of Allegheny County Puts $22M Into Building Renovations At North Side Campus

Some buildings at Community College of Allegheny County’s Allegheny Campus in the North Side are showing their age, which is prompting a $22 million renovation.

One of the goals of the Ridge Avenue Revitalization Project is for students to come to brighter, more modern spaces, said Donna Imhoff, president of the Allegheny Campus.

“We want them to have a really positive experience,” she said.

The three-phase revitalization project will include work at the Physical Education Building, West Hall and the Foerster Student Services Center.

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Transportation Challenges Rife As Pittsburgh Focuses On Making Fixes

Lori Minetti often feels stranded in her Carrick home.

The closest bus stop used to be across the street. Now it’s almost a mile away, because Port Authority of Allegheny County eliminated the 50 Spencer route four years ago.

She walks one of the farthest distances a city resident must go to catch a bus. It seems even farther to Minetti, who has an arthritic back.

“It’s kind of cloistered me,” said Minetti, 48, a former temp for Downtown companies who no longer works. Her husband uses the couple’s only car for his job as a maintenance worker in Munhall.

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PPG Axes 1,700 Jobs As Part Of Global Restructuring

DSC01801PPG Industries Inc. is trimming 4 percent of its global workforce as the world’s largest paint and coatings company tries to reduce costs related to a spate of recent acquisitions.

The Downtown-based company said it was cutting 1,700 jobs as part of a restructuring that also includes reducing production capacity. About 40 of PPG’s 2,500-person workforce in Pittsburgh will lose jobs, the company said.

PPG is aiming to achieve $100 million to $105 million in annual pretax savings by 2017 from the restructuring. Further details of the capacity reductions were not available, the company said.

PPG spent about $2.4 billion buying companies last year, part of a long-term strategy to grow through acquisitions.

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Wilkinsburg Tour To Highlight Blight In Hopes Of Spurring Redevelopment

It’s a home tour visitors don’t typically take: overgrown gardens leading to homes with boarded-up windows, peeling paint and broken stairs.

The Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation and a group of Carnegie Mellon University students hope to highlight hidden beauty in the borough and reframe how people see vacant properties. The students conceived the idea for a Vacant Home Tour on May 9 as a way to address blight.

They’ll walk people through the history of five vacant properties in Wilkinsburg that could be prime candidates for restoration.

At each house, volunteer docents from the neighborhood, who researched the homes’ histories and owners, will present old photos or documents to show the houses in their heydays, said Marlee Gallagher, communications and outreach coordinator for the CDC.

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Southwest Pa. Is Safe, Prosperous — Struggles With Poor Air Quality, Obesity, Report Finds

Southwestern Pennsylvania has low unemployment, a plethora of high school and college graduates and relatively safe streets, but residents are more likely to smoke cigarettes and be overweight compared to a group other major U.S. metro areas, according to a University of Pittsburgh report released Wednesday.

The “2015 Pittsburgh Today & Tomorrow Report” from Pitt’s University Center for Social and Urban Research compared 11 quality-of-life factors in Southwestern Pennsylvania to 14 other metro areas.

Researchers found that while the region “continues to be a national model for economic recovery and public safety, the region still has major deficiencies in overcoming issues related to the environment, infrastructure, public health, and other matters that are key to the quality of life for most Americans.”

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Logans Ferry Demolition Could Bring Development Possibilities

With the demolition of what once was Alcoa’s Logans Ferry Powder Works, Plum will lose a historic touchstone but could gain a new foothold to the borough’s future.

A real estate company that bought the 20-acre industrial site in 1987 when Alcoa idled the plant recently began to raze more than a dozen brick buildings moldering at the base of Coxcomb Hill Road.

Alcoa moved its powder works to Plum in 1918 after the aluminum powder it produced sparked an explosion at the New Kensington Works the prior year. It was the first of three explosions associated with powder production in Alcoa’s New Kensington and Plum facilities that killed 17 people, the last in 1979.

During its 68 years of existence, the plant produced powder that gave automotive paint its sparkle, added durability and cooling properties to roof coatings, and was used as a base in rocket fuel, dynamite and fireworks.

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Commissioners Lament ‘Divisiveness’ Of Mt. Lebanon Deer Culling Debate

The most disappointing part of Mt. Lebanon’s deer management program that ended abruptly last week was “the divisiveness and mean-spirited rhetoric” that split the community, commissioners said at their meeting Monday night.

“For the good of the community, we must try to reset the dialogue,” President John Bendel read from a letter at the meeting.

But opponents of the program said there is still work to be done.

They again lined Washington Road before the commission’s discussion session and subsequent meeting.

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http://www.post-gazette.com/local/south/2015/03/24/Commissioners-lament-divisiveness-of-Mt-Lebanon-deer-culling-debate/stories/201503240130

Pittsburgh Bald Eagles’ Egg Expected To Hatch This Week

For birdwatchers and fans of the great outdoors, 2014 was a red letter year when a pair of nesting bald eagles along the Monongahela River in Hays successfully hatched and reared three young eagles.

The pair started with two eggs this year but lost one about a week ago when it broke. The remaining egg is expected to hatch sometime this week.

Though it is normal for eagles to hatch one or two eggs each spring, eagle sightings remain something of a novelty in the region. Bald eagle fans regularly flock to the Three Rivers Heritage Trail just west of the Glenwood Bridge to watch the pair on the hillside above Route 837.

Worldwide, millions keep tabs on the eagles, day and night, by way of a video stream on the Pittsburgh Bald Eagles website ( http://triblive.com/news/projects/pittsburgheagle)

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On The Horizon: PNC’s $400M Tower Nears Completion

Picture of PNC Tower in July 2014

Picture of PNC Tower in July 2014

PNC Financial Services Group’s $400 million skyscraper in Downtown is nearly 80 percent complete and on track to be finished in the fall, the company said Friday.

Mayor Bill Peduto said he welcomes “the addition of their new tower to our celebrated skyline,” along with the financial giant’s continued investment in Pittsburgh.

PNC’s Downtown presence includes the 30-story One PNC Plaza, 34-story Two PNC Plaza, 23-story Three PNC Plaza and five-story PNC Firstside Center on First Avenue.

Construction of the skyscraper, dubbed The Tower at PNC Plaza, began in spring 2012. A PNC-run website dedicated to the project says The Tower is 78 percent complete, with work to enclose the building about 90 percent done and interior construction about 60 percent finished. The latter work is expected to be completed in the spring.

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Stylebook Snapshot: Pittsburgh Knit And Crochet Festival Embraces Growth With New Venue

What do you compare to covering the Andy Warhol Bridge with a rainbow of 500-plus knitted and crocheted blankets as part of the Knit the Bridge fiber arts installation in 2013? How about a 78-foot “waterfall” of yarn cascading along the walls of a Downtown hotel?

This spectacle will be among the sights next weekend at the 11th annual Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival, which will include a fashion show, design contest, giveaways and more than 80 classes and hands-on activities. This year, the event also will attract a film crew to Pittsburgh that will tape a segment about the city and its fiber arts scene for a reality television show.

For the first time, the festival will be held Downtown at the Westin Convention Center Pittsburgh hotel to accommodate its growing attendance. Last year, about 3,500 people came out for the festivities at the Four Points by Sheraton hotel in Marshall, where the festival took place for several years.

“We have people who come from across the country to attend,” says festival organizer Barbara Grossman. “It’s become like a retreat.”

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http://www.post-gazette.com/life/fashion/2015/03/22/Stylebook-snapshot-Pittsburgh-Knit-and-Crochet-Festival-embraces-growth-with-new-venue/stories/201503220015

PennDOT Expects $272 Million In District Road Work This Year

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will start or continue several major projects on local roads and bridges this year as it spends an estimated $272 million to give drivers a smoother, safer ride.

There will be plenty of inconvenience on the way in District 11, which includes Allegheny Beaver and Lawrence counties. PennDOT officials at a briefing this morning stressed the importance of safe driving, including adhering to work zone speed limits.

Specific announcements of road and bridge closures or restrictions will come as the events draw nearer, officials said.

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http://www.post-gazette.com/local/region/2015/03/16/PennDOT-expects-272-million-in-road-work-this-year/stories/201503160147

Mt. Lebanon’s Controversial Deer-Culling Program Gets Underway

Mt. Lebanon’s controversial deer-culling program began late Monday night with another protest, though all the activity surrounding the cull scared deer away from at least one of the corrals and the rest of the night appeared to pass uneventfully.

About 15 anti-culling protesters gathered starting at 9 p.m. in the parking lot for Bird Park off Beadling Road, hoping to document the arrival of the contractors and their departure with any deer, said Dina Alberts, 27, of Carnegie.

“Our goal is to go to each (commission) meeting with up-to-date information, truthful information, and the only way to get it is to see it with our own eyes,” said Alberts, who grew up in Mt. Lebanon but joined the protesters who feel the culling will be inhumane and ineffective.

The group broke up and headed home by 11 p.m. without seeing any activity, though other protesters who’d visited Robb Hollow Park were approached by police and asked to leave earlier in the evening, said Leila Sleiman, who helped organize the protest at Bird Park.

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Man Gets 17 3/4 To 44 Years In Prison For Killing Pittsburgh Police Dog

The man who fatally stabbed a Pittsburgh police dog will spend 17 34 to 44 years in prison, an Allegheny County judge ruled Tuesday.

John Rush, 22, of Stowe, said nothing as sheriff’s deputies led him back to his holding cell in handcuffs and shackles.

Rocco’s handler, Officer Phil Lerza, said he was “happy” with sentence.

“I lost my partner from this and he was also a family member,” Lerza told the judge. “I lost a family member that day.”

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Technical Issues Could Delay Mt. Lebanon Deer Cull

The cull of 150 white-tailed deer in Mt. Lebanon, scheduled to start tonight, might be delayed for technical reasons.

Brian Benner of Wildlife Specialists in Wellsboro, Tioga County, said Sunday that some necessary equipment wasn’t in place.

The company also plans to request an addendum to its Pennsylvania Game Commission permit, he said, expanding the number of workers it may use during the operation.

“I’m not sure if we’ll start Monday or not. It depends on how much equipment we can set up,” Mr. Benner said. “We still have to set up some cameras and different technology that lets us know where the deer are.”

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http://www.post-gazette.com/local/south/2015/03/08/Mt-Lebanon-deer-cull-may-be-postponed/stories/201503080211

Study: Minorities In Pittsburgh Region Dominate Low-Wage Jobs

Ever since the British defeated the French and the Indians then changed the name of Fort Duquesne to Fort Pitt, the vast majority of the population of Pittsburgh has been white.

The workforce of the Pittsburgh region is now 89 percent white, with the remaining share of workers split between African Americans (7 percent), Hispanics and Asians (2 percent each), and 1 percent people who are listed as another racial minority, according to a study released Thursday by the Workforce Diversity Indicators Initiative that was the subject of a forum on diversity at the University of Pittsburgh on Thursday.

The employment sectors with the most diversity also were the lowest-paying sectors, such as administrative and support services with 20 percent share of minorities. That sector includes office work jobs and marketing but also security services, cleaning and maintenance and waste disposal. Minority workers in those jobs make $2,761 a month, which, according to the report, was one of the lowest of all sectors.

Even lower pay was found in the sector with the second highest concentration of minority workers — accommodation and food services — which had 16 percent representation by minority workers on the payrolls earning $1,442 a month.

Read more:

http://www.post-gazette.com/business/career-workplace/2015/03/06/Pittsburgh-region-minorities-dominate-low-wage-jobs-study-finds/stories/201503060177

Alcoa May Close Or Sell Some Aluminum Plants To Cut Costs

Alcoa Inc. may close or sell 14 percent of its smelting capacity and 16 percent of its refining capacity in a move to lower costs in the face of falling aluminum prices and higher production in China.

New York-based Alcoa, which has significant operations in Pittsburgh, said it will review high-cost operations across its global system of aluminum production facilities over the next 12 months.

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McKeesport Backs Effort To Rebuild Housing In Seventh Ward

McKeesport soon may have two new homes built in the city’s Seventh Ward cultural and educational district — and perhaps more after that.

City council Wednesday gave “unqualified support” to ACTION-Housing Inc.’s requests for funding for two homes on space cleared near the Twin Rivers school complex.

“ACTION-Housing will act as a partner with the city in the development and sale of the two new homes,” Mayor Michael Cherepko wrote in a letter dated Feb. 27 to Allegheny County’s Department of Economic Development.

That department handles a housing development fund and affordable housing trust fund that could be part of a mix of funding sources the nonprofit will pursue.

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