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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Allegheny County leads Pennsylvania in clean-energy jobs, according to new report

Posted By on Wed, Sep 6, 2017 at 4:02 PM

According to a report released last week, Allegheny County is leading the way in clean-energy jobs. The report, produced by national nonpartisan group Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) and local partner Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance (KEEA), revealed that Allegheny County leads the state with 8,100 workers employed in the clean-energy field.

“To know that the companies that are here work together, collaborate and continue to grow jobs in this region is something that I am very, very proud of,” Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said at an event earlier today.

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Pittsburgh Artists' Show in Wheeling Opens Tomorrow

Posted By on Wed, Sep 6, 2017 at 3:10 PM

You can travel up the Penn Avenue arts corridor, but how well do Penn Avenue-based arts travel? Find out at tomorrow night’s opening reception for #OpenOnPenn, a group show featuring work by some 50 artists from the district, at the Stifel Fine Arts Center in Wheeling, W.Va.

The exhibit was organized by Nina Sauer of Most Wanted Fine Art, the long-running gallery whose storefront on Penn shut down last year (thought Most Wanted remains active as a programmer).

The show honors the history of the arts corridor, co-founded in 1998 by the Bloomfield-Garfield Corp., the community-development group that co-curated the show with Most Wanted. Included are newspapers, photographs and other historical items.

Participating artists working in a wide range of styles include such names as Alisha Wormsley, Alison Zapata, Bekezela Mguni, Bob Ziller, Carolyn Pierotti, Chris Ivey, Danielle Robinson, D.S. Kinsel, GEMS & CHU, Jason Sauer, J.R. Holtz, Julie Mallis, Laura Jean McLaughlin, Marcel Lamont Walker, Matt Spahr, the late MFONE, Nina Marie Barbuto, Njaimeh Njie, Oreen Cohen, Rashad Jamal, Sam Thorp, Ryder Henry and Susan Wagner. (That's Jason Sauer, Nina's spouse, in one of his customized vehicles, on the exhibit poster at right.)

The free opening reception runs 6:30-8:30 p.m.

The Stifel Fine Arts Center is located at 1330 National Road, in Wheeling, just over an hour southwest of Pittsburgh.

The show is up until the end of October, with gallery hours from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays.

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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Pittsburgh-area artist starting crowdfunding campaign for “Captain Freedom: Combat Hate” comic

Posted By on Tue, Sep 5, 2017 at 5:13 PM

  • Image courtesy of D.J. Coffman
Remember the good old days when Americans unequivocally hated Nazis? Well, a new independent comic is hoping to rekindle those feelings. “Captain Freedom: Combat Hate” is the tale of Captain Freedom, a superhero who fights Nazi villains and Axis powers, and a recent effort is trying to bring his stories of taking down racist villains.

Captain Freedom will be written by California-based Dan Taylor and drawn by Westmoreland County resident and occasional Pittsburgh City Paper cover artist, D.J. Coffman. Captain Freedom isn’t an original character. His first appearance was in Speed Comics No. 13 in 1941 and is credited as being created by “Franklin Flagg.” The character is in public domain, and Coffman says now is the perfect opportunity to revive Captain Freedom, given the public emergence of neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va., and other places.

“The comic-book fans, they need a hero to step up and fight this stuff,” says Coffman.

So, Taylor, Coffman and several other comic-book-industry veterans are throwing their support behind the creation of a pilot issue of the new Captain Freedom. To get the project off the ground, they need some cash, so they started a Kickstarter campaign to raise at least $2,500. The comic will be part of the independent comic-book label Keep Left, which was created by Coffman and Taylor. Coffman says the more money they raise, the more pages the comic book will have.

Taylor says as some groups attempt to make racism and other hate-filled ideologies more normal, there needs to be an even stronger push to condemn it.

“In today’s tumultuous climate fueled by racism and supremacists, our country, our world, needs heroes to step up and denounce hate when our political leaders will not,” says Taylor in a press release. “While I do not condone violence, I feel that a war against hatred needs to be fought by those who stand against bigotry and racism. And the weapon we’ve chosen is resurrecting a comic-book superhero that fought the good fight in the Golden Age — a defender of democracy and foe of tyranny.”

Coffman says the comic will be all-ages friendly, and that heroes and villains will be easy to distinguish (guy with American flag-like costume is good, and the people with swastikas are bad). Coffman says he was motivated to join this project because he was frustrated with seeing people he knows feel like they have to be silent on issues regarding race and hate.

“I want to punch back at it the best way I know how ... and that's drawing some friggin' comics” says Coffman in a press release. “My heroes are guys like Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, who taught me through their works that the pen and pencils are always mightier than swords."

Coffman also says that Captain Freedom’s sidekicks, the Young Defenders, will be updated to represent a more diverse America and will include minority characters. He says that Captain Freedom is about spreading the American values of liberty to anyone who wants follow them. “Captain Freedom’s one main star can represent many things, not just the U.S.,” says Coffman. “The star can also be seen as the one star guiding African-American slaves to freedom.”

Kickstarter donations come with prizes like signed copies and other memorabilia. The last day to donate is Fri., Oct. 6.

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Community College of Allegheny County to build new workforce-training facility to address region's employment needs

Posted By on Tue, Sep 5, 2017 at 1:07 PM

Over the past week, in honor of Labor Day, a number of institutions have published reports on the state of labor and employment across the United States. And while for years experts promoted a college education as key to finding a career, recent reports indicate there are numerous high-paying jobs that do not require a four-year college degree.

Today, as part of an effort to give people the skills to access these jobs, Gov. Tom Wolf and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald announced the construction of a new Workforce Training Center at Community College of Allegheny County.

“We know that jobs exist for workers with the right skills, and this state and local partnership will create a new hub of training and STEM education for generations of students to compete in the economy,” Wolf said in a statement. “Projects like this are critical to enabling the Pittsburgh regional economy to continue growing. This new center will provide technical education and training that we know employers demand. Our community colleges are an investment in our future.”

The center will provide training in a number of fields, including culinary arts, cybersecurity, autonomous technology, digital technology, process technology, plastic technology, additive manufacturing, emergency medicine, nursing and the creative arts. There will also be noncredit programs designed to prepare students to meet the region's shifting workforce demands.

“Today’s announcement of CCAC’s Collaborative Workforce Initiative, including Gov. Wolf’s commitment of funding for a building dedicated to workforce training, allows us to move closer to our goal of becoming the region’s premier provider of workforce training,” Fitzgerald said in a statement. “This effort is about making connections — between residents seeking work, the skills they need to succeed, identifying what employers need and want today and tomorrow — and ensuring that this focus is woven throughout everything that we do at the college.”

The Department of Education will finance half of the annual cost of a 20-year, $20 million bond to construct the center, and construction is expected to begin in late 2018. According to Board of Trustees Chairman Frederick Thieman, the center will be designed to meet the workforce-training needs identified in studies conducted by Allegheny County.

“We appreciate the support from Gov. Wolf and the Department of Education in helping CCAC to launch this multi-phase strategy to bolster a workforce- and workplace-development program that is already among the best in region thanks to the efforts of Dr. Bullock and his team,” Thieman said in a statement. “This week, our board will formally acknowledge this funding and continue its planning to strengthen the connections between CCAC and the university and the corporate communities.”

A recently released report by jobs website Career Cast used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and rankings from the 2017 Jobs Rated report to come up with a list of the top 20 jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree. Ten of the jobs on the list are in the health-care industry and other fields include web development and plumbing.

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Monday, September 4, 2017

Pittsburgh joins Fight for $15 Labor Day protests

Posted By on Mon, Sep 4, 2017 at 4:43 PM

  • CP photos by Jake Mysliwczyk
Pittsburgh fast-food employees, hospital workers and supporters rallied in Oakland this morning, joining hundreds of cities across the country in Fight for $15 Labor Day protests. The local group marched down Forbes Avenue in support of improved wages and working conditions, led by a banner that read, "Pittsburgh needs unions."

Photo intern Jake Mysliwczyk was in Oakland to document the scene. Check out his photo highlights from the rally and march below.

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Friday, September 1, 2017

What happens when you use Trumpisms as search terms for stock art?

Posted By on Fri, Sep 1, 2017 at 3:34 PM

  • Photos from iStock

We've never had a president who talks like Donald Trump. For many of his supporters, that's a plus: He tells it like it is. In his blunt, often racially-charged statements on immigration, they hear an unflinching commitment to truth, a rejection of PC culture. In his parroting of key phrases and slogans, they hear consistency. And in his less cogent moments, the times when he stops mid-sentence to chase some butterfly of a passing thought, they hear a down-to-earth everyday guy who doesn't talk like the elites, who doesn't need speechwriters or teleprompters.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

After decades without one, Pittsburgh sees second flush-and-boil water advisory in seven months

Posted By on Wed, Aug 30, 2017 at 1:14 PM

According to Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority spokesperson Will Pickering, to the best of the authority's knowledge, prior to this year, PWSA has never issued a flush-and-boil advisory.

But this week, the authority issued its second flush-and-boil advisory in just seven months. At a press conference yesterday, PWSA Interim Executive Director Robert Weimar said the latest advisory was issued after an inspection of the cover over one of the system's reservoir raised concerns.

"Our efforts have been first and foremost to stabilize the system," Weimar said. "We've begun the process of developing a repair strategy."

The reservoir was taken offline at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 28, and water from it will not flow into the water system until it is repaired. To fill the gap, PWSA has expedited repairs to other pumping stations, and these repairs will be done this weekend.

"We're confident that we will provide as confident a water system as we had previously," Weimar said. "We're confident that we can make our way through this and provide the water supply and the water quality that the public demands."

Repairs will begin next week to the east cell of the reservoir, and the west cell will be taken down and rebuilt. The entire facility was up for reconstruction in 2018, so funds for the project were already included in the capital budget. All of the work is anticipated to take nine months.

"We want to apologize for the problem that this may have caused for some of our customers," Weimar said. "It's clear that we're dealing with a system that is like a very old car, and at any particular point in time, a part might fail."

This week's development is just the latest in a slew of troubles PWSA has experienced in recent years as a result of the system's ailing infrastructure.

"This is a situation we're going to face time and time again," Mayor Bill Peduto at yesterday's press conference. "We have an antiquated system that in certain areas is beyond the failure point. We lack duplicity in backup systems because we never invested in them, and when we see a problem area occur, it will come with an impact."

Chief among PWSA's problems has been the high lead levels detected in city water. Some believe a 2014 change in PWSA's corrosion-control chemicals contributed to the city's high lead levels. And this month Pittsburgh City Paper reported on an email wherein PWSA appears to take responsibility for that  switch.

Now experts say eliminating the city's high lead levels means eliminating the city's lead service lines. Estimates indicate replacing the city's  lines could cost anywhere between $50 million and $410 million.

"What's taken decades to get to isn't going to be solved overnight. It's going to take at least a decade to solve the problems within PWSA, and it is going to cost billions of dollars. This is just the reality of what we face," Peduto said. "What we will do is we will take ownership. We will take on the responsibility to fix this problem so that  a generation past the next generation won't have to deal with this situation. We'll leave as a legacy  that we'll have clean water from 2030 to 2080."

There are 10 water distribution centers throughout northern parts of the city, as well as in Millvale and Reserve Township, to serve the 18,000 homes impacted by the precautionary advisory. Those unable to boil water or access a distribution center can call the city's 311 line to have water delivered to them. Public-safety officers have delivered water to more than a dozen residents and area schools.

The advisory is expected to be lifted as early as Thu., Aug. 31 or Fri., Sept. 1.

Water Distribution Locations

Millvale Community Center, 416 Lincoln Ave., Millvale, PA 15209

Reserve Twp.
Reserve VFD, 33 Lonsdale St., Pittsburgh, PA 15212

City of Pittsburgh
Pressley High Rise, 601 Pressley St., Pittsburgh, PA 15212
Pennsylvania Bidwell, 1014 Sheffield St., Pittsburgh, PA 15214
Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire Station 32, 900 Spring Garden Ave., Pittsburgh PA 15212
Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire Station 33, 3284 Central Ave., Pittsburgh, PA
Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire Station 34, 3914 Perrysville Ave., Pittsburgh PA 15214
Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire Station 35, 1519 Orchlee St., Pittsburgh PA
Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire Station 37, 1124 W. North Ave., Pittsburgh PA 15233
Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire Station 38, 198 Essen St., Pittsburgh, PA

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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Squonk Opera in China: The Final Week

Posted By on Tue, Aug 29, 2017 at 5:02 PM

  • Photos and videos courtesy of Squonk Opera
Pittsburgh-based Squonk Opera is spending August performing its show Pneumatica at the Qingdao International Beer Festival, in China's Shandong province. Throughout the month, Squonk members will be sending City Paper updates about their experiences week-to-week. For more info, go here.

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Monday, August 28, 2017

Free Wi-Fi now available at several Port Authority light-rail stations in Pittsburgh

Posted By on Mon, Aug 28, 2017 at 4:55 PM

Rich Fitzgerald at Steel Plaza station in Downtown Pittsburgh - CP PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • CP photo by Ryan Deto
  • Rich Fitzgerald at Steel Plaza station in Downtown Pittsburgh
Light-rail riders rejoice. Waiting underground for the T will no longer include the frustration of no signal, and being unable to check your smartphone or mobile device every two minutes to see if your Facebook feed has changed.

Starting Aug. 28, seven Port Authority of Allegheny County light-rail stations will provide complimentary Wi-Fi, thanks to a partnership with internet-provider Comcast Xfinity. The stations to offer Wi-Fi are: Station Square, on the South Side; Allegheny and North Shore, on the North Side; and First Avenue, Steel Plaza, Wood Street and Gateway, all Downtown.

“This is part of continuous efforts improve our transit system,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald at an Aug. 28 press conference. “[The Port Authority] continues to be connected and not be out of touch with what riders want.”

Port Authority Interim CEO David Donahoe said this technological improvement is necessary, in order to keep up with public-transit competitors. “Today we are in competition with driving, ride-hailing, and biking,” said Donahoe. “No longer do we just say, 'We are here and you have to ride us.’”

The Wi-Fi is public and open to everyone. Users just need to connect to the Xfinity Wi-Fi on their device, and then they will be prompted to register an account with Xfinity. (Current Comcast Xfinity customers can use their username and password to login.)

Comcast Xfinity spokesperson Bob Grove said Pittsburgh joins Boston, New York City and southern New Jersey as the only regions to offer free, public Wi-Fi at transit stops. Grove noted that Comcast Xfinity is considering expanding the service.

The Wi-Fi comes at no cost to Port Authority.

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Friday, August 25, 2017

Penn Plaza residents and advocates pressure Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto to enact broad affordable-housing legislation

Posted By on Fri, Aug 25, 2017 at 2:06 PM

Affordable-housing advocates protesting in Riverview Park on Aug. 24 - CP PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • CP photo by Ryan Deto
  • Affordable-housing advocates protesting in Riverview Park on Aug. 24
When longtime Penn Plaza residents Myrtle Stern and Maybel Duffy were forced to vacate their East Liberty homes earlier this year, their options for replacement housing were limited. They need elevator access, as they are in their 70s and have trouble navigating stairs. “I have arthritis and a metal knee,” said Duffy at an Aug. 24 protest in Riverview Park. “I can’t do steps.”

The best option for them was Auburn Towers apartments, in Verona, Pa., which is more than an hour away from Penn Plaza via public transit. And Stern says this move has lowered her quality of life.

“When I lived in East Liberty, I used to walk a block or two to visit with my daughter," said Stern in a press release. “When I got to feeling bad, I used to babysit my grandkids, and then I would feel better. But I had to move out to Verona, where there are so few buses that I feel trapped out here, especially on the weekends when there are no buses at all. I want to be able to return to my home in East Liberty.”

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