County Seeks Applications for Blight Program

May 25, 2023 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements, State & Region

(Tube City Almanac 2019 file photo for illustration only)

Allegheny County Economic Development is currently accepting applications for the 2023 round of the Blight Removal Program, a spokeswoman said.

Municipalities, public authorities, councils of government, land banks and private developers may apply for funding to remediate established blight conditions. Applications are due by 4:30 p.m. June 16 and individual awards of up to $250,000 are available.

Approximately $1.5 million is available during this round of funding, county officials said.

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Residents Urged to Report Lanternfly, Other Pests

April 27, 2023 |

By Danielle M. Smith - Public News Service | Posted in: State & Region

Warmer winters and shifting weather patterns caused by climate change are magnifying the impact of invasive pests like the spotted lanternfly, say experts. (Tube City Almanac file photo by Vickie Babyak)

April is Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is warning Pennsylvanians that it’s the best time of year to spot damaging, invasive species.

Invasive pests cost the U.S. about $40 billion a year in damages to trees, plants and crops, according to the USDA.

Kathryn Bronsky is the USDA’s national policy manager for plant protection and quarantine. She said hungry pests are often great hitchhikers, and people can accidentally spread them to new areas by traveling.

In particular, she said, experts are urging residents to be on the lookout for the spotted lanternfly.

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Davis: Businesses Need Tools to ‘Grow and Thrive’

April 24, 2023 |

By Tom Leturgey | Posted in: State & Region

Attendees at the Mon Yough Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual legislative lunch included state Reps. Brandon Markosek and Abigail Salisbury; chamber member and McKeesport real-estate broker Robert Baum; state Reps. Matthew Gergley and Nick Pisciottano; West Mifflin business owner Nick Pisciottano; Lt. Gov. Austin Davis; Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald; business owners Craig Baum and Eva Jovanovic; Allegheny County Councilman Bob Macey; and Mon Yough Chamber Board Chair Robert Johnson. (Tom Leturgey photo for Tube City Almanac)

Pennsylvania’s governor is dedicated to making the state more business-friendly to entrepreneurs, Lt. Gov. Austin Davis told the Mon Yough Area Chamber of Commerce during its annual legislative luncheon.

During the event at the Georgetown Centre in Pleasant Hills, Davis told local business leaders that among Gov. Josh Shapiro’s first actions after being sworn in was the creation of the new Office of Transformation & Opportunity.

Davis called the office “a one-stop shop for businesses, to give you the support you need to grow and thrive.”

The administration is also putting pressure on state permit and license agencies to perform, he said. When a business applies for a license, Davis said, “they will have a timeline that the state is required to meet. And if we don’t respond by that deadline–the applicant gets their money back.”

“We’re planting a flag, sending a clear message that Pennsylvania is open for business,” he said.

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Workforce Programs Seek More Black Applicants

April 03, 2023 |

By Danielle M. Smith - Public News Service | Posted in: State & Region

Above: Dewitt Walton, vice president and program director for the Pittsburgh chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, talks to visitors during a July 2022 session. (Submitted photo courtesy APRI Pittsburgh, via Instagram)

Labor leaders in various industries recently celebrated the 85th anniversary of a federal law that laid the groundwork for registered apprenticeship programs in Pennsylvania and across the country.

However, a new report says not everyone gets a fair shot at these opportunities.

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies found that Black apprentices are underpaid and underrepresented in registered apprenticeship programs. Dewitt Walton, vice president and program director for the Pittsburgh chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, said the key to changing this is for more people to know what's available.

“The opportunities for life-changing careers in the construction and building trades, we have to increase the awareness of those opportunities,” he said, “and promote them in a more comprehensive and successful manner than we have in the past.”

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Urban Schools Plead Funding Case to State, Public

April 03, 2023 |

By Dianne Ribecca | Posted in: State & Region

While a proposed increase in basic education funding in Pennsylvania is appreciated, public school officials that represent small school districts said last week it’s not enough.

Last week, five members of the Pennsylvania League of Urban Schools — including East Allegheny School District — held press conferences to appeal to Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro and the General Assembly to treat school district funding as a crisis that needs more attention.

In addition to EA, school officials in Greater Johnstown, Upper Darby, Lancaster and Bethlehem all presented specific financial information regarding the gap between the revenue they receive each year, and their operating and mandated costs.

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County Offers Residents New Air-Quality Tool

March 14, 2023 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: State & Region

In an effort to improve transparency and provide residents more information about the region’s air quality, the Allegheny County Health Department has launched a new dashboard dedicated to tracking hydrogen sulfide.

The dashboard, which was created in partnership with CountyStat, displays up-to-date information from the county’s two hydrogen sulfide monitoring sites located in North Braddock and Liberty Borough, a spokesman said.

Other information on the webpage explains the state’s hydrogen sulfide regulations and what the health department’s Air Quality Program is doing to monitor and enforce Pennsylvania’s standards.

The Allegheny County Hydrogen Sulfide Dashboard is available on the county’s website.

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PA Tasked With School-Funding Revamp

February 25, 2023 |

By Danielle M. Smith - Public News Service | Posted in: State & Region

It’s been two weeks since a Commonwealth Court judge ruled Pennsylvania’s system of funding public schools is unconstitutional and must be revamped.

Backers of the ruling are looking toward Gov. Josh Shapiro’s new budget, expected March 7, to address the steps his administration will be taking to move toward compliance with the court decision.

Kristina Moon, senior staff attorney for the Education Law Center, called the victory “historic” for the petitioners: six school districts, parents, the NAACP of Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools.

Moon said the judge wrote a “strong” decision, which is 786 pages long.

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LIHEAP Offers Pa. Residents Heating Assistance

January 04, 2023 |

By Danielle M. Smith - Public News Service | Posted in: State & Region

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, helps families living on low incomes pay their heating bills in the form of a cash grant. (Photo illustration courtesy Pennsylvania Department of Human Services)

Higher fuel prices and a bitterly cold start to this winter mean it will cost more for most people to heat their homes, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

There is help available for qualifying Pennsylvania households. Applications are being taken for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program through April 28 by the state Department of Human Services.

Patrick Cicero, consumer advocate for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, said no matter your home’s heating source, you do not have to be behind on your bill to be eligible for a cash grant.

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Voters to Choose Replacements for Davis, Lee

December 07, 2022 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News, Politics & Elections, State & Region

Summer Lee and Austin Davis, shown here at their Mon Valley Youth Expo in 2019, have resigned their respective state legislative seats. Lee has been elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, while Davis is slated to become Pennsylvania’s first Black lieutenant governor. (Submitted photo courtesy Pennsylvania House of Representatives)

Mon-Yough area voters will be asked to choose replacements for two state legislators who have been elected to higher offices.

State Rep. Austin Davis of McKeesport and State Rep. Summer Lee of Swissvale, both Democrats, submitted their resignations on Wednesday. Davis has been elected lieutenant governor, replacing John Fetterman of Braddock, while Lee has been elected to the congressional seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, who is retiring.

On Wednesday, state House Democratic Leader Joanna McClinton of Philadelphia announced that a special election will be held Feb. 7 to replace Davis, Lee and state Rep. Anthony DeLuca, who died in October.

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Test Program Offers Discounted Transit Fares

December 05, 2022 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Announcements, State & Region

Volunteers and staff from Pittsburghers for Public Transit and members of its “Fair Fares Now” coalition helped spread the word about a discount program during an event Nov. 17 in downtown Pittsburgh. A 12-month experimental program will offer discounted transit rides or $10 credits to eligible Alleghney County residents ages 18 to 64. (Submitted photo courtesy Pittsburghers for Public Transit)

Applications are now being accepted for a pilot program that will provide discounted transit fares for Allegheny County residents on low and fixed incomes.

The discount program is being managed by the county’s Department of Human Services and is limited to people ages 18 to 64 who received benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, as of Sept. 30.

Participation is voluntary. Participants will randomly be enrolled in one of three programs and will receive either unlimited free fares on all PRT trips for 12 months; a 50 percent discount for 12 months; or a ConnectCard pre-loaded with $10 in free transportation.

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