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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Seniors Reminded of Medicare Deadline

December 05, 2022 |

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

Medicare’s annual open enrollment period ends Dec. 7, so if you’re one of the 2.8 million Pennsylvanians eligible for Medicare, decisions need to be made now for the coming year.

Joanne Grossi, Pennsylvania state president emeritus for AARP, said it is important for anyone on Medicare to review their coverage options, and make sure their plan still meets their health care needs, because the coverage can change from year to year.

She said picking a plan can be complicated, but help is available.

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Post-Gazette Workers Continue Strike

November 07, 2022 |

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

Election Day is busy at most news outlets, but some employees of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette are picketing instead — still on strike for what they consider unfair labor practices of the newspaper’s parent company.

Some workers have been off the job since Oct. 6; others since Oct. 18.

Kitsy Higgins, advertising account representative at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, claimed workers at the Pulitzer Prize-winning paper have spent five years with no bargaining agreement, and some people have gone 15 years without pay increases.

“We’re looking for a fair contract, which is reasonable — an increase in wages, especially for 2022; and insurance," Higgins said. “Along with just to bargain in good faith, which we’re not having right now, which is unfortunate.”

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It’s Here: Last Day to Register to Vote on Nov. 8

October 24, 2022 |

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

In Pennsylvania, today is the last day to register to vote or update your voter registration before the Nov. 8 midterm election.

You have until midnight to register to vote.

In the 2020 General Election, which included the presidential race, 71 percent of Pennsylvanians cast their ballots. Meg Pierce — executive director of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania — said the state saw a huge surge in participation in the 2020 presidential election.

Then the numbers dipped a little in 2021. But Pierce predicted a high turnout again this November.

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Report: Local Workers Benefit from Tight Labor Market

October 13, 2022 |

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

The latest research on the “State of Working Pennsylvania” says a tight labor market and new levels of union organizing are offering new opportunities for workers.

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate in August was the lowest since June 2000, at 4.2% — and more than six million Pennsylvanians are either working or looking for jobs.

Stephen Herzenberg – executive director of Keystone Research Center and co-author of the report – said with smart and worker-friendly policies, the next several years should see a sense of possibility for those workers.

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Increased Security in Wake of Kennywood Shooting

September 28, 2022 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News, State & Region

The suspect wanted in connection with a shooting at Kennywood on Saturday night that injured three people remains at large, Allegheny County police said.

In the meantime, officials at the landmark amusement park in West Mifflin have announced enhanced security measures for when the park reopens, including a requirement that all guests age 17 and under must be accompanied by an adult age 21 years or older, and that their chaperones must have valid ID.

Details of the new security policies are posted on Kennywood’s website.

Three people, including two teen-agers, were wounded by gunshots after a suspect described as a Black teen-ager wearing a hooded sweatshirt and a face mask opened fire near the Musik Express ride.

The park was open Saturday night for its annual Halloween-themed “Phantom Fall Fest” celebration.

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They’re Here: Lanternflies Pestering Local Residents

September 22, 2022 |

By Vickie Babyak | Posted in: State & Region

They may seem pretty at first — but spotted lanternflies could cause hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to crops and timber in Pennsylvania every year. The invasive pests have arrived in the Mon-Yough area and are widespread. (Vickie Babyak photo for Tube City Almanac)

The invasive spotted lanternfly is spreading through the Mon Valley. Residents report noticing a few lanternflies in their yards or neighborhoods and others are seeing swarms of them.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the spotted lanternfly, or SLF, is an invasive plant-hopper native to Asia. It was first discovered in 2014 in Berks County and since then has spread to multiple counties, as well as to Ohio, Virginia and Maryland.

“We’re coming up on the time when SLF lay egg masses from September to November and this is a great time to continue to control the spread,” said Tim Byan, Whetzel Land Steward for the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania.

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Report: Lack of Juvenile Detention is a ‘Crisis’

September 05, 2022 |

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

One goal of youth and family support services is to keep kids out of juvenile detention, but for those who are accused of serious crimes, Pennsylvania doesn't have enough space in its detention centers, and it is being described as a crisis.

A report by the Juvenile Court Judges’ Commission outlined the effects of facility closures on accessibility to services. Since 2006, some 15 juvenile detention centers have closed in the state, including Allegheny County’s Shuman Juvenile Detention Center, which had its license revoked in 2021.

There are now 14 facilities providing secure detention services across the state, and 61 of 67 counties must vie for beds at just seven of them. The report indicated staff shortages mean not all the beds can be used.

The closest juvenile detention facilities to Allegheny County are in Erie, Fayette and Westmoreland counties.

Abigail Wilson, director of child welfare, juvenile justice and education services for the Pennsylvania Council of Children, Youth, and Family Services, said a few factors are contributing to the lack of available beds.

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School Funding Lawsuit Still Unresolved

August 16, 2022 |

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

School buses sit in a garage during the summer vacation. (File photo by Jason Morrison via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-2.0.)

After eight years, the Pennsylvania school-funding lawsuit is in the hands of a judge, creating a waiting game heading into the new school year.

Oral argument ended in July.

In 2014, six Pennsylvania school districts sued state legislative officials, state education officials and Gov. Tom Wolf, alleging that the state’s school funding system violates the clause of the Pennsylvania Constitution that promises to provide a “thorough and efficient” system of public education.

The Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools, the NAACP-Pennsylvania State Conference and a group of public school parents are also plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

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