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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Freeport, other W. Pa. schools may lose federal Title II funding
Julius Youngner, Pitt polio pioneer, dies at 96

By Ben Schmitt

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 7:07 p.m.


Julius S. Youngner, a key member of the University of Pittsburgh team that developed a polio vaccine with Dr. Jonas E. Salk, has died.

Youngner was a virologist and microbiologist who spent 56 years working at Pitt. He died Thursday night at his Squirrel Hill home surrounded by family.

He was 96.

A New York City native, Youngner came to Pittsburgh in 1949 after working on the Manhattan Project, the government's clandestine program to develop an atomic bomb.

The Army assigned him to a top-secret unit in Oak Ridge, Tenn., to examine the toxicity of uranium salts. Younger also worked at the National Institutes of Health, where he first became interested in virus research.

His contributions to Salk's vaccine were critical to its success.

The most prominent was a rapid color test he designed to measure the amount of poliovirus in living tissue culture. He also developed techniques for trypsinization — a method that used the enzyme trypsin to harvest the polio virus in large quantities. This technique enabled vaccine-makers to produce material to make vaccines for everyone.

At Pitt, he served as professor and chair of the department of microbiology from 1966 to 1985, and as professor and chair of the department of microbiology, biochemistry, and molecular biology from 1985 until his retirement in 1989. He maintained a large presence in the department, attending a seminar as recently as last year.

“Juli's infectious curiosity has fueled his own research and influenced all who had the privilege to work with him. As a direct result of his efforts, there are countless numbers of people living longer and healthier lives,” said Dr. Arthur S. Levine, Pitt's senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and dean of Pitt's School of Medicine.

“Julius Youngner once told a reporter that he intended to stay at the University of Pittsburgh for only a short time following his work on the Manhattan Project. But he soon fell in love with Pitt and the research opportunities here. I am grateful he stayed and that his work, with Jonas Salk and others, led to the polio vaccine. He was one of the world's preeminent virologists and our University community will miss him immensely,” Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said in a statement.

His work with Salk was not without controversy.

Youngner told the Tribune-Review in 2005 that Salk failed to acknowledge his lab colleagues during a speech at the University of Michigan on April 12, 1955. On that day the world learned the polio vaccine worked. Salk's perceived oversight forever damaged his relationship with Youngner.

“Some of them were crying after we left,” Youngner said at the time of his colleagues. “People really held it against him that he had grandstanded like that and really done the most un-collegial thing that you can imagine.”

Salk's achievement along with his vaccine team ended years of fear and anxiety surrounding an illness that spread misery and death in the United States from the late 1800s to the mid-20th century.

At its peak, polio crippled an average of 1,000 children every day in more than 125 countries.

After his work on the polio vaccine, Youngner made major advancements in the fields of virology and immunology. Together with Pitt colleagues, he explored the antiviral activities of the immune protein interferon and identified what is now known as interferon gamma. Interferon is now used in many cancer therapies.

He received numerous honors and awards, including the Polio Plus Achievement Award from Rotary International in 2001.

He earned an honorary doctor of public service from Pitt in 2005, the Chancellors Medal in 2014, and the department of microbiology and molecular genetics established an annual lecture series in his honor in 2015.

Youngner is survived by his wife of 54 years, Rina Youngner of Pittsburgh; children Stuart Youngner of Cleveland and Lisa Youngner of Albuquerque, N.M.; grandchildren Jonathan Youngner of Chicago, Ill., Matthew Youngner of San Francisco and Suzanne Youngner of Cleveland; and half-brother Alan Donheiser of Contuit, Mass. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Tula Liakakis Youngner.

Editor Luis Fábregas contributed to this report. Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991 or bschmitt@tribweb.com. Reach him on twitter at @bencschmitt.


In Conner, Steelers Nation can trust

By Jerry DiPaola

Published: Saturday, April 29, 2017, 1:36 p.m.


Pitt's James Conner is a Pittsburgh Steeler. So we asked a Pittsburgher who knows a lot about the football programs that occupy the Rooney Sports Complex for his thoughts on the feel-great story of the 2017 NFL Draft.

James and the Steelers as only the Tribune-Review's Jerry DiPaola can tell it.

I'm sorry. I can't think of James Conner without seeing the sun set over Lake Erie.

People who live in or near Erie — and James proudly numbers himself among them — will tell you it's the most beautiful sight on earth.

Yeah, there's a story.

Before he came to Pitt and turned into an All-American running back as a sophomore and, Friday night, a Steeler, James was just another football player at Erie McDowell High School. Making friends, trying to make an impact, looking out for others.

His best friend and quarterback since sixth grade, Sean Gallagher, has a sister, Meghan, who five years ago was in a hospital room at UPMC Hamot, getting treatment for a kidney ailment. The room had no view of the lake.

James thought that was just plain wrong.

So, he picked Meghan out of her bed, cradled her in his massive arms, carried her out of the room and set her down in front of a window.

“The sunset relaxed her mind,” James told me.

That's part of what the Steelers are getting, and he couldn't have come around at a better time for a franchise recently beset by too much bad news, up to and including the death of Dan Rooney.

That's a part of this story, too.

James was in Dan's company many times at the South Side practice facility Pitt shares with the Steelers. But never as boss and employee. And were Dan alive, he and James still wouldn't have had the boss-employee relationship many people know in their companies.

Indeed, James and Dan would have shared a great, long-term relationship. Both men would have made sure of it.

Which brings me, finally, to the reason I'm writing these words the morning after James was drafted by the team that Dan helped build into the Super Bowl era's flagship football franchise.

These words are about James. They are also about the Steelers. I want everybody reading these words to realize what drafting James means for the Steelers.

James did beat cancer. He was an inspiration while battling the disease, and that fight reflected who he is and how he lives. But that fight was only a chapter of James' story.

Just. One. Chapter.

Through his wonderfully crafted Players Tribune essay, James spoke of the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a goal. He told me years ago, “The NFL is on my mind every day.”

Nice to hear from a college star, but James should know that much more relevant stuff needs to happen for him to run into the most famous building in Canton, Ohio.

The easy (if fortuitous) part was getting drafted by the Steelers on Friday night. It happened three picks from the end of the third round. The Steelers selected him with a pick provided by the NFL for former players who had left Pittsburgh as free agents.

If not for that bit of largesse by the league seeking to level the playing field, James would have been on a plane to somewhere else Saturday morning, not sitting across from coach Mike Tomlin, general manager Kevin Colbert and team president Art Rooney II. (James actually did have a 10 a.m. appointment at Steelers headquarters.)

With that appointment, James was in a spot similar to one by another college star upon whom the Steelers used a compensation pick at the end of a third-round. You might remember that guy.

He is Hines Ward. And without their drafting of Hines in 1998, the Steelers may not have written the great chapter that was their first decade of this century.

You might think James would sign in blood for a career similar to Hines' Hall-of-Fame caliber tenure.

Nope.

James will gladly work to make his own mark, thank you.

On the field, James will provide the Steelers a nice complement to Pro Bowl running back Le'Veon Bell, a way to extend that possible Hall-of-Fame career by having someone else share all those carries, absorb some of those hits. James won't make many long runs in the NFL, but he'll break the spirit of some defensive backs.

Duke's 180-pound cornerback Breon Borders found that out the hard way one day at Heinz Field. With one of the same arms that carried Meghan Gallagher toward that Lake Erie sunset, James viciously stiff-armed Breon out of bounds while trying to rally Pitt to a victory.

Through the years covering Pitt's football program, I enjoyed the one-on-one, sit-down interviews with James and grew to appreciate and understand why he addressed his elders as “Sir” and “Mister.” Not all of college athletes take that approach.

It's something called respect.

With James, as it was with Dan Rooney, respect is earned because it is first given.

James affords the game of football that respect, too. He prepares to play on so many levels, from practices on the field, video work with coaches, lifting weights, bonding with teammates, even walking around the offices clutching a jug of water so he'll be properly hydrated.

Unlike in college, Conner won't find many defensive backs reluctant to tackle him. I can tell him from having seen it with my own eyes, his own new teammates didn't shy from trying to tackle Jerome Bettis during his first training camp with the Steelers in 1996.

But when the collisions come for James this July, they won't be pretty. I hope James' new Steelers teammates heed my warning.

One final story.

During a spring practice session in 2014, former Pitt safety Terrish Webb, 80 pounds lighter than James, rushed up to try to tackling him. The noise of the crash drowned out any words that could be overheard, but I have always presumed Terrish said more than “Ouch.”

Later, Pitt's running backs coach at the time, John Settle, told James, “Kids shouldn't play in traffic.”

“It was an accident,” James said, sheepishly.

Not it wasn't, James.

Nothing you do is accidental.


Pittsburgh Police chief addresses Point Park graduates

By Megan Guza

Published: Saturday, April 29, 2017, 1:45 p.m.


Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert says the path to becoming a college professor was a humbling one.

“I was offered opportunities to teach forensics, police operations and homeland security at various universities, and I couldn't accept those because I didn't have a degree,” Schubert said.

The quandary frustrated him, he said, because he felt he had a lot to offer those wishing to learn.

“It was kind of humbling for me — I wanted to share information and my expertise but not able to do it because I lacked an advanced degree,” Schubert said. “Looking at my own children, I try to lead by example. I wouldn't expect people to do something I didn't do.”

So he got a degree — two, actually. A bachelor's and a master's from Point Park University led him to a part-time professorship at the school, which led him to Saturday's packed graduation at PPG Paints Arena, Downtown.

“You worked hard and stayed the course, even when it may have not seemed possible,” he told the graduates at the university's master's and doctoral ceremony. “(You) made many sacrifices, but in the end, you accomplished a significant achievement — an academic achievement that is only held by a small percentage of the population. That alone speaks volumes of who you are.”

University officials presented Schubert with the university's 2017 Outstanding Achievement Award for Community Engagement.

Schubert has backed off from teaching since he was promoted to assistant chief in late 2014 — about two years before he took over the bureau. He said his obligations to the bureau, as well as his family and charitable work with the Special Olympics, have kept him out of the classroom since then.

He said he hopes to get back to it soon.

“I really do enjoy being able to share my experience with people — what I've done over the years,” he said. “I want to do what professors and instructors have done for me over the years.”

Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8519, mguza@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @meganguzaTrib.


Steelers host 'Fan Blitz' at Heinz Field
Pittsburgh startup ViaHero personalizes your trip

By Kim Lyons

Published: Saturday, April 29, 2017, 2:36 p.m.


Lynne Bangsund and her daughter Krista wanted to go to Cuba, but they didn't want to go with the standard guided tour.

“We both speak a little Spanish, and we didn't really want to go with 30 other people,” Bangsund said.

So when they found travel site ViaHero during an online search, they decided to give it a try. They got a personalized itinerary prepared by a bona fide Cuban guide for a fraction of the cost of a travel agent, Lynne said.

“It was amazing, we had the entire trip planned,” she said. Not only did they get to see sights they wouldn't otherwise have known about, Bangsund said the pair felt like they had an edge over other travelers. As they made their way around Havana, they encountered other tourists at restaurants. “They would be waiting but we had all our reservations planned ahead of time.”

When it launches in Japan in May, East Liberty-based travel startup ViaHero will add a third island country to its small but growing portfolio. An AlphaLab alumni company, ViaHero creates customized travel guides that allow travelers to experience their destination like a local. Rather than compensating the hotel or airline trying to sell the most expensive trip, ViaHero relies on the person providing the expert advice (the “heroes,” if you will) to create the best possible travel experience.

“People really value the local insight they wouldn't have access to otherwise,” said ViaHero CEO Greg Buzulencia. “You'd have to go through thousands of reviews on a site like TripAdvisor to get this depth of information.”

ViaHero has started small, launching in Cuba and Iceland as its first markets. The company uses a blend of Airbnb hosts, freelance tour guides and local travel writers, many of whom come with their own audiences, to help plan the trips for customers.

With Cuba a relatively new destination for American travelers and Iceland becoming a more popular destination due to low-cost airfares, ViaHero has found a niche within the very crowded online travel space.

Buzulencia says the typical customer for ViaHero is an experienced international traveler, who might have visited a place with a tour guide in the past but wants a more authentic and independent experience.

Here's how it works: On the ViaHero website, travelers choose what aspects of a trip are most important to them in a few categories: food (bakeries, street food, markets, etc), culture (history, museums, art) and activities (outdoors, beaches, nightlife).

Enter the number of days you'll be visiting, and choose a “hero,” and you'll get an estimate for how much your trip will cost. An itinerary for a visit to Cuba focused on bakeries, beaches and history, as planned by a local would be roughly $15 per day.

Travelers pay separately for their airfare and lodging costs, but the ViaHero itinerary offers flight times and recommendations for where to stay. It also has details such as whether you'll need reservations at recommended restaurants, how much a taxi will cost and where to catch one, and details that only a local or frequent visitor would know.

Buzulencia says they didn't necessarily plan to target islands, but have found it easier, as a startup, to be able to focus on areas that are somewhat isolated geographically.

“For most people traveling to Japan or to Cuba, that's usually their sole destination,” he noted. “It's not like going to Europe, where people will want to plan visits to four different countries in one trip.”

But as the company grows, Buzulencia says he has his eye on future destinations: Chile, Colombia, New Zealand, Croatia and South Korea among them.

“Now that we have a process down, we definitely want to try to diversify a little and be able to give our customers more variety.”

Lynne Bangsund never got to meet Lianet, the Havana resident who planned her trip to Cuba in person, but says every night during their trip, she and her daughter would toast to their “hero.” And she says there's always the next trip.

“Because now, it's like we have a friend in Cuba to show us around.”

Kim Lyons is a Tribune-Review contributing writer


Pittsburgh Police chief addresses Point Park graduates

By Megan Guza

Published: Saturday, April 29, 2017, 1:45 p.m.


Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert says the path to becoming a college professor was a humbling one.

“I was offered opportunities to teach forensics, police operations and homeland security at various universities, and I couldn't accept those because I didn't have a degree,” Schubert said.

The quandary frustrated him, he said, because he felt he had a lot to offer those wishing to learn.

“It was kind of humbling for me — I wanted to share information and my expertise but not able to do it because I lacked an advanced degree,” Schubert said. “Looking at my own children, I try to lead by example. I wouldn't expect people to do something I didn't do.”

So he got a degree — two, actually. A bachelor's and a master's from Point Park University led him to a part-time professorship at the school, which led him to Saturday's packed graduation at PPG Paints Arena, Downtown.

“You worked hard and stayed the course, even when it may have not seemed possible,” he told the graduates at the university's master's and doctoral ceremony. “(You) made many sacrifices, but in the end, you accomplished a significant achievement — an academic achievement that is only held by a small percentage of the population. That alone speaks volumes of who you are.”

University officials presented Schubert with the university's 2017 Outstanding Achievement Award for Community Engagement.

Schubert has backed off from teaching since he was promoted to assistant chief in late 2014 — about two years before he took over the bureau. He said his obligations to the bureau, as well as his family and charitable work with the Special Olympics, have kept him out of the classroom since then.

He said he hopes to get back to it soon.

“I really do enjoy being able to share my experience with people — what I've done over the years,” he said. “I want to do what professors and instructors have done for me over the years.”

Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8519, mguza@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @meganguzaTrib.


Pittsburgh police shoot, injure man in East Liberty

By Theresa Clift

Published: Saturday, April 29, 2017, 9:45 a.m.


A Pittsburgh officer shot and injured a man who appeared to be in his 20s early Saturday morning in East Liberty, according to a police news release.

The incident happened around 1:30 a.m. Saturday, when officers were dispatched to the 700 block of Mellon Street for a report of a male in a red sweatshirt who was armed with a shotgun, the release said.

An officer found a man matching that description and shot him in his left side.

Alert and conscious, he was transported to UPMC Presbyterian, the release said.

Police recovered the shotgun at the scene.

The release did not name the officer or the man.

This story will be updated as more details become available.


102-year-old Oakmont woman remembered for indelible spirit
Pitt training center aims to breathe new life into Homewood, manufacturing

By Natasha Lindstrom

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 7:51 p.m.


After losing his job as the office manager of a medical practice in fall 2015, Westmoreland County's Jerry Krajci decided to switch to a career he knew almost nothing about: advanced manufacturing.

Krajci, then 36, didn't know much about being a machinist — except that he'd be in high demand if he became one. Within the next decade, more than a quarter of the Pittsburgh region's precision machinists are expected to retire, industry projections show.

The Penn State business graduate turned to the University of Pittsburgh's Manufacturing Assistance Center , known as MAC, for training.

“Everything in the classes that I took was brand-new to me,” said Krajci of Lower Burrell, who landed a job at Ultra Precision in Freeport, Butler County, a month after completing his training at Pitt's Applied Research Center in Harmar.

The Harmar facility housed MAC since 1994.

But starting Monday, the precision manufacturing training facility will begin training future Krajcis in a former Westinghouse warehouse in Pittsburgh's Homewood neighborhood.

MAC spokesman Scott Yeager said officials chose Homewood for two key reasons: its potential to help revitalize the impoverished area, and its proximity to bus lines and the Wilkinsburg park-and-ride station.

“Our goal is to help more people realize that manufacturing is not dead in this region. If anything, there is a viable career path in advanced manufacturing in Pittsburgh,” Yeager said.

“We're still here to help support industry,” Yeager said, “but we're focusing more on working with members in the community.”

State and local officials joined education, nonprofit and business leaders Friday morning to mark MAC's relocation to Homewood's Susquehanna Avenue. MAC will occupy about one-tenth of the renovated, five-story building owned by Downtown's Bridgeway Capital. More than half the building is occupied, with tenants including tech startups, community groups and artists.

MAC boasted a job placement rate of 95 percent in 2015, the center said. It typically trains 80 to 100 people a year, with each class limited to 12 students.

Tuition for the eight- to 20-week courses runs from $5,500 to $17,000. Financial assistance is available.

Last year, the center was closed for part of the year, so it trained only 30 students — but all of them landed jobs. The hiring companies included General Carbide Corp., Gupta Permold, Diamond Wire Spring, Penn Machine, Able Tool Co., Specialty Bar Steel and West Penn Testing.

MAC's efforts are part of a larger one by public officials, post-secondary institutions, K-12 schools and employers across the region to address an anticipated shortage in skilled employees as baby boomers retire in droves.

Greater Pittsburgh's workforce of about 1.2 million is losing about 29,000 baby boomers a year to retirement, said Linda Topoleski, the Allegheny Conference on Community Development's vice president for workforce programs.

“I'm still young enough to learn new things and help fill the gap when these guys are packing up,” Krajci said.

Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8514 or nlindstrom@tribweb.com.


Pittsburgh police searching for missing Beechview woman

By Tribune-Review

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 9:33 p.m.


Pittsburgh police is asking for help in finding a missing woman, Dana Marie Perdue.

Police say Perdue was last seen by a relative on Friday, April 21, in Monessen at 10 p.m. She was wearing a black jogging suit.

Perdue is 46 years old, lives in Beechview and drives a 2017 Nissan Versa four-door with a license plate of KGL-6479. The car is a rental from Enterprise.

She is described as 5'10” and 190 pounds. She is a black female with either blonde or brown hair and has tattoo on her neck that says “Larry.”

Anyone with information should call the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Missing Persons Unit at 412-323-7141.


Julius Youngner, Pitt polio pioneer, dies at 96

By Ben Schmitt

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 7:07 p.m.


Julius S. Youngner, a key member of the University of Pittsburgh team that developed a polio vaccine with Dr. Jonas E. Salk, has died.

Youngner was a virologist and microbiologist who spent 56 years working at Pitt. He died Thursday night at his Squirrel Hill home surrounded by family.

He was 96.

A New York City native, Youngner came to Pittsburgh in 1949 after working on the Manhattan Project, the government's clandestine program to develop an atomic bomb.

The Army assigned him to a top-secret unit in Oak Ridge, Tenn., to examine the toxicity of uranium salts. Younger also worked at the National Institutes of Health, where he first became interested in virus research.

His contributions to Salk's vaccine were critical to its success.

The most prominent was a rapid color test he designed to measure the amount of poliovirus in living tissue culture. He also developed techniques for trypsinization — a method that used the enzyme trypsin to harvest the polio virus in large quantities. This technique enabled vaccine-makers to produce material to make vaccines for everyone.

At Pitt, he served as professor and chair of the department of microbiology from 1966 to 1985, and as professor and chair of the department of microbiology, biochemistry, and molecular biology from 1985 until his retirement in 1989. He maintained a large presence in the department, attending a seminar as recently as last year.

“Juli's infectious curiosity has fueled his own research and influenced all who had the privilege to work with him. As a direct result of his efforts, there are countless numbers of people living longer and healthier lives,” said Dr. Arthur S. Levine, Pitt's senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and dean of Pitt's School of Medicine.

“Julius Youngner once told a reporter that he intended to stay at the University of Pittsburgh for only a short time following his work on the Manhattan Project. But he soon fell in love with Pitt and the research opportunities here. I am grateful he stayed and that his work, with Jonas Salk and others, led to the polio vaccine. He was one of the world's preeminent virologists and our University community will miss him immensely,” Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said in a statement.

His work with Salk was not without controversy.

Youngner told the Tribune-Review in 2005 that Salk failed to acknowledge his lab colleagues during a speech at the University of Michigan on April 12, 1955. On that day the world learned the polio vaccine worked. Salk's perceived oversight forever damaged his relationship with Youngner.

“Some of them were crying after we left,” Youngner said at the time of his colleagues. “People really held it against him that he had grandstanded like that and really done the most un-collegial thing that you can imagine.”

Salk's achievement along with his vaccine team ended years of fear and anxiety surrounding an illness that spread misery and death in the United States from the late 1800s to the mid-20th century.

At its peak, polio crippled an average of 1,000 children every day in more than 125 countries.

After his work on the polio vaccine, Youngner made major advancements in the fields of virology and immunology. Together with Pitt colleagues, he explored the antiviral activities of the immune protein interferon and identified what is now known as interferon gamma. Interferon is now used in many cancer therapies.

He received numerous honors and awards, including the Polio Plus Achievement Award from Rotary International in 2001.

He earned an honorary doctor of public service from Pitt in 2005, the Chancellors Medal in 2014, and the department of microbiology and molecular genetics established an annual lecture series in his honor in 2015.

Youngner is survived by his wife of 54 years, Rina Youngner of Pittsburgh; children Stuart Youngner of Cleveland and Lisa Youngner of Albuquerque, N.M.; grandchildren Jonathan Youngner of Chicago, Ill., Matthew Youngner of San Francisco and Suzanne Youngner of Cleveland; and half-brother Alan Donheiser of Contuit, Mass. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Tula Liakakis Youngner.

Editor Luis Fábregas contributed to this report. Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991 or bschmitt@tribweb.com. Reach him on twitter at @bencschmitt.


Duquesne law students learn the ukulele to relieve stress
Tents pop up near Peduto's home in protest of homeless encampment

By Bob Bauder

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 12:27 p.m.


Paul Hendricks vowed to sleep in a tent next to Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto's Point Breeze home until the city rousts homeless people from a North Side encampment that neighbors have dubbed “Pedutoville.”

Hendricks, 56, whose Fineview home overlooks the encampment, said he recruited two homeless men to join him in a wooded space next to city steps near Peduto's residence.

“I'm going to stay out there until Mayor Peduto decides he's breaking the law,” said Hendricks, known as “Scrappy” to his friends. “I want to see how his neighbors feel about having homeless people outside their house.”

Peduto, 52, who is running for re-election, told police not to disturb people camped out by his home.

Peduto blamed City Councilwoman Darlene Harris of Spring Hill for what he considers a reprehensible political stunt. He said Harris is using homeless people as political pawns and called it a “new low in Pittsburgh politics.”

Harris, 64, who is challenging Peduto in the May 16 Democratic primary, denied the accusation, saying she knew nothing about Hendricks' protest until Friday.

“It never became an issue until two weeks before the election,” Peduto said. “Darlene is trying to use the most vulnerable in our society as a wedge issue in this campaign, and that is morally reprehensible.”

Harris, a lifelong North Side resident, said the encampment in a wooded area along isolated Howard Street is sanctioned by the city and violates zoning and sanitary ordinances, among others. She said residents are furious about litter, human waste and noise. They became more incensed when the city on Thursday placed a portable toilet on a sidewalk along Howard, she said.

“He's a liar,” Harris said of Peduto. “I have no control over what people do. Don't blame me. He should blame himself.”

Terry Araya, 46, who lives in a tent along Howard, said residents have the wrong impression. He invited visitors to inspect his tent site, which was neat and clear of most litter. He said trash that remains was left by others who have moved out.

He said children have thrown rocks at him and others from a street running above their camp sites.

“The problem is that most people judge homeless people as bad people,” said Araya, a Carnegie native who moved there in February and has been homeless on and off for 15 years. “They're complaining we're down here littering. They also say we're doing drugs. None of us is doing drugs. The problem is they just don't know us.”

Araya said he's homeless because “bad things just keep happening to me.” He said he prefers to sleep outside in a tent rather than a shelter because it's his own personal space. Shelters move people out each morning, he said.

“We're not doing any of the things they think we're doing,” he said.

Peduto said his administration has worked with social service agencies and police, including UPMC Mercy's Operation Safety Net, in an attempt to find housing and jobs for homeless people in Pittsburgh.

He said homeless advocates have supported the establishment of out-of-the-way spaces like Howard Street where homeless can set up temporary camps.

“The spaces allow for homeless individuals and families to move away from highly public spaces by parks, schools and businesses to more secluded sites, such as that on Howard Street,” the mayor's office said in a statement. “The transitional sites allow Operation Safety Net and others to help supply medical and other care for homeless residents in one place, rather than in scattered sites, and to work to help them find new homes.”

“By rounding them up with police ... and throwing them away as Mrs. Harris wants to do, you don't solve homelessness,” the mayor said. “That only makes the problem worse.”

Hendricks and his neighbor Mary Ann Buggey said the city should help the homeless, but those on Howard Street have refused help and live in the woods by choice. They said they complained to no avail about litter and seeing people urinating.

Buggey said children who live on the street are scared of the homeless people.

Hendricks, owner of a North Side auto repair shop, said he plans to recruit more homeless to camp near Peduto's house. He said he plans to rent a portable toilet for the mayor's street.

“It's my home now,” he said.

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-765-2312 or bbauder@tribweb.com.


Pittsburgh groups work to rid schools and child care centers of lead, radon

By Theresa Clift

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 2:27 p.m.


Two nonprofits are launching a program to help Pittsburgh-area schools and child care centers get rid of lead and radon hazards.

Women For a Healthy Environment and the Green Building Alliance are offering the 1,000 Hours a Year Project with funding from The Heinz Endowments, a news release said.

“While lead and radon are commonly found in schools and other educational buildings, any testing and remediation for these hazards is voluntary,” the release said. “The research is clear that both lead and radon can impact a child's development, growth and learning. As children spend roughly 1,000 hours a year in either school or child care centers, they could potentially be exposed to these environmental hazards for a majority of their day.”

The program will provide grants of up to $7,500 to schools and child care centers, the release said. The program also will train facility staff in the testing and remediation process.

The program is now accepting applications. For more information, visit www.1000hoursayear.org.

Theresa Clift is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-5669, tclift@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @tclift.


Former CMU professor to lead Uber self-driving car efforts in Pittsburgh

By Aaron Aupperlee

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 2:06 p.m.


A former Carnegie Mellon University robotics professor has taken the wheel of Uber's self-driving car efforts in Pittsburgh.

Eric Meyhofer, who co-founded Carnegie Robotics and worked there until joining Uber in 2015, will take over for Anthony Levandowski amid Uber's legal battle with Waymo, Google's self-driving car company, Business Insider reported Friday

Levandowski, who had worked on Google's self-driving car project before starting the company Otto, sent an email to his team stating that he was stepping aside from LiDAR-related work and management at Uber during the company's court fight with Waymo.

Meyhofer will report directly to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, according to Levandowski's email, obtained by Business Insider.

Meyhofer has been based at Uber's Advanced Technology Center in Pittsburgh. He was part of the core team of CMU-related roboticists that Uber hired to jump-start its self-driving car work. Meyhofer had been Uber's engineering leader in Pittsburgh.

RELATED: How Uber built self-driving cars in Pittsburgh

Waymo has sued Uber, accusing Levandowski of stealing about 14,000 files related to its LiDAR technology, a key component to self-driving cars. Levandowski invoked the fifth amendment to avoid incriminating himself when Waymo tried to depose him in the lawsuit.

Uber has called Waymo's claims baseless and an attempt to slow down a competitor. The company also said Levandowski played a small role in Uber's work on LiDAR.

“I will have absolutely no oversight over or input into our LiDAR work. Going forward, please make sure not to include me in meetings or email threads related to LiDAR, or ask me for advice on the topic,” Business Insider reports the email states. “We should all be proud that our self-driving technology has been built independently, from the ground up. With this move, I hope to keep the team focused on achieving the vision that brought us all here.”

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at aaupperlee@tribweb.com, 412-336-8448 or via Twitter @tinynotebook.


Allegheny County's Port Authority hires interim CEO for $14K a month
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says marijuana is addictive and unhealthy for players

By Ben Schmitt

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 11:42 a.m.


A week after a medical marijuana conference brought former football players to Pittsburgh to advocate the benefits of cannabis use in controlling pain, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell proclaimed on a sports talk show that the drug is addictive and unhealthy for players.

“It does have an addictive nature,” Goodell said Friday on the ESPN show “Mike & Mike.” “There are a lot of compounds in marijuana that may not be healthy for the players long term. All of those things have to be considered. And it's not as simple as someone just wants to feel better after a game. We really want to help our players in that circumstance, but I want to make sure that the negative consequences aren't something that is something that we'll be held accountable for some years down the road.”

Last weekend's World Medical Cannabis Conference and Expo at Downtown's David L. Lawrence Convention Center brought the likes of former Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL running back Ricky Williams to push pro-pot agendas.

While NFL players are allowed to take heavy prescription drugs, such as opioids, for pain, marijuana remains a banned substance.

“If you get in the drug program and you get in trouble, it's so punitive,” Williams told the Tribune-Review while discussing NFL drug policies. “Players aren't getting help. They are only getting punished for something that I think we can at least make the argument is probably healthier than opioids and prescription drugs that players are taking.”

Whether marijuana is addictive has been debated among experts and users for decades.

Goodell acknowledged Friday that medical marijuana use is on the rise.

“We look at it from a medical standpoint,” Goodell said. “So if people feel that it has a medical benefit, the medical advisers have to tell you that. We have joint advisers, we also have independent advisers, both the (NFL Players Association) and the NFL, and we'll sit down and talk about that. But we've been studying that through our advisers. To date, they haven't said this is a change we think you should make that's in the best interests of the health and safety of our players. If they do, we're certainly going to consider that. But to date, they haven't really said that.”

Dr. Bryan Doner, a co-founder of the medical marijuana consulting company Compassionate Certification Centers, helped organize last week's conference in Pittsburgh. He said he found some of Goodell's remarks hypocritical.

“We know for a fact that some of the current treatments used in treating NFL and other athletes, such as opiates and (anti-inflammatory drugs), can absolutely have undeniable and devastating long-term consequences,” Doner said. “At our recent convention, we had a number of former NFL athletes state this in no uncertain terms. If the treatment options the NFL is currently using and endorsing have known, well-documented, long-term negative consequences, is it fair or appropriate to leave those unaddressed while applying this to medical cannabis? The answer to me seems to be a very clear no, and in fact hypocritical.”

Medical marijuana in Pennsylvania is now legal and will be available in 2018 in pills, oils, tinctures or ointments.

Under state law, patients — after consulting with doctors — can apply for a state-issued medical marijuana card if a doctor certifies that they have one of 17 qualified medical conditions, including epilepsy, cancer, multiple sclerosis and seizure disorders.

Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991, bschmitt@tribweb.com or via Twitter @bencschmitt.


School districts target teen suicide after Netflix's '13 Reasons Why'

By Ben Schmitt and Jamie Martines

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 11:00 p.m.


Even before the popular Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” sparked a national conversation about teen suicide Pittsburgh's Creative and Performing Arts school officials worried about an increase of suicidal students.

“I, unfortunately, have had a lot of experience with suicidal children,” said Jennifer Palermo, a CAPA social worker. “We certainly have a protocol in place to immediately assess students for safety, inform parents and connect them to outside resources.”

School districts across Western Pennsylvania take the frenzied buzz surrounding the hit series seriously. Many are concerned that the show irresponsibly glorifies teen suicide and doesn't properly address the depths of mental illness.

Based on a novel by Jay Asher and produced by Selena Gomez, the 13-part series tells the fictional story of 17-year-old Hannah Baker, who kills herself in graphic fashion by cutting her wrists in her home bathtub. She leaves audiotapes for 13 people, including a school counselor, who she says contributed to her suicide.

Palermo has not watched the series but said several students have told her the counselor's character appears to be aloof and uncaring.

“They told me, ‘Mrs. Palermo, you will not like the depiction of this counselor in this show,'” she said. “That depiction is fictional and goes against what any counselor is trained to do. I worry it could send a message that reaching out to a school support person is not a viable option.”

John O'Connell, director of student support for Pittsburgh Public Schools, addressed the show with district counselors and social workers in an email this week. The email contained instructions from Pennsylvania Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative.

“It is with near certainty that many of your students will be talking about this series in school,” the email said. “Being armed with appropriate and positive messages will help students struggling with their own emotional response to this series to put the dramatized content into realistic perspective and afford you with new opportunities for engaging these youth and providing necessary support and resources.”

Chartiers Valley School District Superintendent Brian White on Thursday emailed parents to boost awareness of the show. He included information provided by the National Association of School Psychologists, said district spokeswoman Kara Droney.

“We do not recommend that vulnerable youth, especially those who have any degree of suicidal ideation, watch this series,” the National Association of School Psychologists says on its website. “Its powerful storytelling may lead impressionable viewers to romanticize the choices made by the characters and/or develop revenge fantasies.”

In Belle Vernon, high school staff have also been discussing the show this week.

Belle Vernon Area High School Principal John Grice said he worries about students' exposure to it, primarily because it does not offer any real resources for help if they or someone they know face feelings of depression or thoughts of suicide.

“If you have a poor self image already and you don't have an adult to process this with, you really are at a loss,” Grice said.

Barbara Marin, superintendent of the Hempfield Area School District, said the district plans to send a letter to parents that will include a list of resources on suicide prevention.

“We are aware and we are working on it and it is a concern, because students at this age, they react when they see things like this. And we want to caution parents and make them aware,” Marin said.

Johannah Vanatta, assistant superintendent for secondary education in the North Hills School District, said she waffled on whether to send letters home to parents about the series.

In the end, she chose not to raise alarms because she's confident with suicide prevention in place throughout the district.

TV series or no TV series, the New Kensington-Arnold School district officials said they regularly deal with crisis management for all varieties of student behaviors and outcomes.

“This series isn't going to make us change the way we treat kids because we already have kids as our number-one priority,” Superintendent John Pallone said.

New Kensington-Arnold School District has student assistance programs with staff and students both intervening in crisis situations.

“It doesn't have to be suicide,” Pallone said. “It could be just kids having a bad day.”

He said district teachers and staff will receive more education through a suicide prevention program before the new school year.

Penn Hills High School counselor Amy Alexander said a few students have asked her about the show. Her daughters, 27 and 16, have also seen it.

“I'm going to have to watch it,” she said. “A lot of time adolescents don't think very far into the future and don't realize the depth of committing suicide and the aftermath. It's almost as if they don't believe they wont be here anymore.”

Staff writer Mary Ann Thomas contributed. Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991 or bschmitt@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @bencschmitt.


New eateries energize life Downtown

By Tom Fontaine

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 6:05 p.m.


The surge in new restaurants Downtown has been a good recipe for drawing more people to the Golden Triangle, according to a report released Thursday.

“Food drives foot traffic,” the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership wrote in its annual State of Downtown report , which looks at a number of key economic factors related to life and business in Western Pennsylvania's most bustling central business district.

The Downtown Partnership said 30 restaurants opened in the Greater Downtown area last year. The organization defines Greater Downtown as the Golden Triangle, North Shore, South Shore, Uptown, the Bluff, the Lower Hill District and the Strip District to 31st Street.

Nine of the restaurants opened on the North Shore, six opened near Mellon Square and five near Market Square.

In a pedestrian traffic study conducted last year, the Downtown Partnership found that foot traffic was up 108 percent in the 900 block of Penn Avenue compared with 2012 and up 30 percent in Market Square in the same span. In the four-year period, eight new restaurants opened in the Penn Avenue corridor and 12 did in or near Market Square.

The increased number of people living Downtown also contributed to the extra foot traffic. The report said that 14,764 people called Greater Downtown home in 2016, up 2.6 percent from the year before and 22 percent from 2010.

Tom Fontaine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7847, tfontaine@tribweb.co or via Twitter at @FontainePGH.


Freeport, other W. Pa. schools may lose federal Title II funding
Penn Twp. rescue crew lifts car off wreck victim's leg

By Jeff Himler

Published: Saturday, April 29, 2017, 12:48 a.m.


A Subaru car crashed into a Claridge convenience store at about midnight Friday, sending the lone occupant by ambulance to an area trauma center for treatment.

The accident occurred near the intersection of Main Street and Riverside Drive at about 12:05 a.m.

Penn Township Police Chief John Otto said it appears the unidentified driver was headed east on Main Street when the car rolled over at least once and struck the Claridge Food Center store, leaving debris strewn over the street.

The motorist was ejected and became pinned under the vehicle, Otto said.

A Westmoreland 911 said dispatcher said the male's leg was pinned under the car. Claridge firefighters raised Subaru with air bags enough to free him.

He was transported by ambulance for treatment.

Claridge Fire Chief Ron Supancic said there was little damage to the block building. Supancic and Otto couldn't offer an assessment of the victim's injuries or condition.

“We all hope for the best,” Otto said.

He said police are continuing their investigation.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6622 or jhimler@tribweb.com.


Slain trooper's young sons in court as killer Eric Frein gets death
Slain trooper's young sons in court as killer Eric Frein gets death
Harrison commission race focuses on blight, roads

By Madasyn Czebiniak

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 11:31 p.m.


Blight and road maintenance are two issues Commissioners Vice President Bill Heasley vows to focus on should he be re-elected to oversee Harrison's 4th Ward.

Heasley is squaring off against Richard Osiecki, a school bus driver for the Democratic Party nomination in May 16's primary election.

There are no Republicans on the ballot for the four-year term.

Osiecki is running because he says the township commissioners have a skewed sense of priorities. He said they seem more concerned with walking and biking trails than dealing with blight and attracting businesses.

Osiecki wants Harrison to do more to attract small businesses to places such as the Harrison Town Square, the former Heights Plaza. The shopping center is next the Harrison Hi-Rise, where a lot of seniors live.

Osiecki said half of Harrison's population is 56 or older, and small businesses are needed because that demographic doesn't shop online.

“They have no barber unless you walk the whole way down the end of the plaza,” Osiecki said. “You have no bakery up there, you have no shoe store. You don't even have a beauty shop for the elderly ladies up there.”

Osiecki also wants less favoritism in code enforcement, stating “there are people that get away with a lot of stuff here.”

He wants to hire an independent code enforcement officer and establish a working relationship with District Judge Carolyn Bengel so that people sentenced to community service could come to Harrison to cut grass, pick up trash and trim hedges.

“We don't utilize the free workforce too well,” Osiecki said.

Heasley said he will do more to address blight.

He oversees the township's public works department and said Harrison devotes $400,000 to road maintenance a year.

Heasley said the township will look into alterative methods to address alleys and roads, such as tar-and-chipping as opposed to paving, and the money saved could be used to fix blighted areas.

“We need to take a look at the most severe or the most downtrodden areas and (try) to get them somehow back on the tax rolls and work our way up,” Heasley said.

Heasley said his background in education makes him the best choice for the position. He was principal at Grandview Elementary School in Tarentum, the former Heights Elementary School in Harrison, and at Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Harrison.

He was also athletic director and transportation director for the Highlands School District.

Heasley said working with multi-million dollar budgets taught him how to spend money responsibly. He said Harrison is in good financial shape compared to other municipalities of its size.

“I'd try to be as frugal and careful as possible with how monies were being spent,” Heasley said.

Madasyn Czebiniak is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4702, mczebiniak@tribweb.com, or on Twitter @maddyczebstrib.


Westmoreland sites chip in for National Drug Take-Back Day
Thu, 27 Apr 2017 19:18:50 EST
Thu, 27 Apr 2017 19:18:50 EST
Slain New Ken man's girlfriend testifies in support of shooter

By Chuck Biedka

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 11:27 p.m.


A Plum man is claiming he gunned down a man on a New Kensington street in November in self-defense.

And testimony from the dead man's girlfriend at a preliminary hearing Friday seemed to support that claim.

Daniel Thomas Johnson, 27, was ordered by District Judge Frank J. Pallone Jr. to stand trial in Westmoreland County Court for the homicide of Lorenzo Lewis, 22, of New Kensington. Lewis was killed on the night of Nov. 10.

Lacy Boots, 28, of New Kensington testified she was riding in a car driven by Johnson on 11th Street near the New Kensington post office just before 10 p.m.

Boots testified she had been living with Lewis until he became abusive and he left to stay with his mother for awhile.

She said she had known Johnson since they went to school together.

Boots testified that on the night of the shooting, she and Johnson saw Lewis on the sidewalk pointing a handgun at them as they drove past.

The incident had followed numerous occasions when Lewis held his empty hand like a gun and pointed it at Johnson in a threat, Boots testified on the stand, holding out her hand to show what she meant.

And Johnson and Lewis had exchanged insults over the phone twice, including earlier in the day when Lewis was killed.

Boots testified that Johnson pulled out a pistol as they drove past Lewis, and she tried to wrestle the gun away from him.

She said she knew Lewis' gun “wouldn't work.”

“How did you know that?” defense attorney R. Blaine Jones II asked in cross-examination.

“I know that because he had pointed that gun at me about five months before the shooting,” Boots testified. “The gun didn't fire.”

In the frantic grab for the gun inside the car, Johnson “almost drove into a sign post” along the street, she testified.

But Johnson gained control with his left hand on the steering wheel and “criss-crossed his right arm over his left” to hold the gun outside his window to fire two shots as they sped past.

One of the two gunshots hit Lewis in his chest. He staggered across the street to a grassy spot between the King's Residence apartments and Salvation Army along Fifth Avenue.

Shooting discussed

Assistant District Attorney Larry Koenig next called to the witness stand Brittany Robinson, 28, of New Kensington. She was not at the shooting scene.

But Robinson testified that the day after the shooting she and Boots met up with Johnson in Plum and they checked into a Harmarville hotel.

Robinson testified little was said until they went to the hotel and Boots took a shower.

Johnson at first said “he thought he had shot him,” Robinson testified, but Johnson later said he heard four shots and “someone else could have shot” Lewis.

“We spent the night at the hotel debating about who shot Lewis,” Robinson said.

Robinson testified she knew Lewis carried a gun.

Before prosecution ended its case, Koenig got Jones to acknowledge that Johnson has been convicted of felony drug charges that would preclude him from legally possessing a gun.

Jones didn't present any witnesses for his client.

But he asked Pallone to dismiss the homicide charge against Johnson because he argued the incident didn't meet the definition of any of the classifications for murder under state law.

Under the rules regarding preliminary hearings, Jones wasn't able to present self-defense as a defense at district court.

Pallone said district judges rule only if there was a crime committed and if the person charged could have done it.

Outside the courtroom, Johnson smiled broadly.

“I'm innocent,” he told a Tribune-Review reporter.

Jones was also upbeat. He said he will likely use self-defense to explain the shooting because, he said, Johnson feared for his life regarding Lewis, a man Johnson knew carried a gun.

Jones acknowledged that Boots and Robinson were charged in March with felony drug delivery charges by New Kensington police.

Both waived those charges to court and both were out of jail on nominal bond after initially being held in the Westmoreland County Prison in lieu of $100,000 each.

New Kensington Detective Sgt. James Horwatt filed the two charges against Johnson in March when Johnson was in a federal prison for violating terms of probation.

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4711 or cbiedka@tribweb.com or via Twitter @ChuckBiedka.


BotsIQ draws high school robot teams to battle at Cal U

By Patrick Varine

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 11:00 p.m.


It's rare that teachers encourage students to enter into violent competition.

But that's the case when it comes to battling robots they've engineered for the 12th annual Southwestern Pennsylvania BotsIQ competition, which is being held this weekend at California University of Pennsylvania.

“When you flip another robot, it's sick,” said Max Haberberger, 15, a Penn-Trafford freshman. “This year, our robot has a triangular weapon on the front, and it spins at 21,000 RPMs.”

While the majority of robots are low to the ground to maximize stability, each is designed differently.

Ben Blackburn, 18, is on Mal's Minions, one of two teams from Highlands High School in Natrona Heights. His team won its first battle on Friday.

“Our initial idea was to build the robot around the weapon,” he said. “So we looked at a bunch of our robots from years past and decided the most efficient weapon was the rotating drum, so we built around that.”

Astronomy teacher Jason Brandt, the faculty adviser for the Greater Latrobe High School team, said he enjoys watching students work on their robots and solve problems that come up.

“We tell the kids we don't want to see the same robot every year,” Brandt said. “I've been coming here 11 years. The first year, you were just happy to have a robot that could run and hit something. Now different team members have different responsibilities, and the whole thing is student-driven rather than teacher-driven. I kind of sit back, and I'm here if they have a question or a problem.”

BotsIQ is a manufacturing workforce development program of the Pittsburgh Chapter National Tooling & Machining Foundation.

“It's amazing what students have been learning. I learn a lot from them,” said BotsIQ Executive Director William Padnos. “We also get a lot of manufacturers involved. And, as modern manufacturing has evolved, it's amazing to see what people are able to do at (manufacturing) shops that has translated to the students and what they've learned. We've had robots that are 100 percent 3-D printed made from powdered steel.”

Sometimes getting things right is a matter of fine-tuning.

“In previous years, we've had issues with speed controllers and batteries,” said Dylan Haines, 18, a senior on the Penn Hills High School team. “We've tried to fix the kinks from previous years.”

The competition continues Saturday as battle brackets are whittled down and two finalists go head-to-head for the championship.

Brandt said it's amazing to see what students come up with.

“It used to be shopping-cart wheels and engines from DeWalt drills, so the technology changes have been amazing to see over the years,” he said. “Now you see highly technical machines that look like they could be mass-produced and sold.”

For more, see BotsIQPA.org.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862, pvarine@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.


The Associated Press
Springdale Council election offers chance for change

By Brian C. Rittmeyer

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 11:03 p.m.


If Springdale residents want to make changes on borough council, this year's election offers a chance.

Five of the council's seven seats are up. It's the same number up in the last municipal election, in 2015.

Six Democrats are seeking election. No Republicans will appear on the May 16 primary ballot.

Of the five seats to be filled, four carry four-year terms; one is for a two-year term.

Four incumbents are running for re-election — Eileen Miller, Jason Overly, Anna Spirk and Mike Ziencik. Councilman Frank Forbes is not running.

The other candidates, Jeffrey Hartz and Harry Helwig Jr., mounted unsuccessful campaigns in 2015.

All six candidates are vying for the four, four-year seats.

Three of the six — Helwig, Miller and Ziencik — are also running for the single, two-year seat.

Hartz said the last election didn't necessarily bring about the change some were hoping for.

“Obviously, we're tired of being in the paper or on the news,” he said. “I thought we were going to fix all that. It doesn't look like that happened.”

Hartz said he found out that 30 of the borough's 97 storefronts are empty, and that 30 percent of houses are rentals or empty.

“I'd like to try to figure out a way to make the community more enticing for somebody to want to move in. There's not a lot here,” he said.

He suggested community entertainment and events. “Tarentum does a lot of that. I don't see why we couldn't do the same thing.”

Hartz said he wants to rein in borough spending, notably in the police department.

“We spend a ton of money in this community, and I don't know why,” he said.

Helwig said he ran in 2015 because he and others wanted to remove former Councilmen John Molnar and Gene Polsinelli. Both men were defeated at the primary that year.

“I want to better this town, is what I want to do,” he said. “I've lived here over 30 years. The town isn't like it was when we moved in here.

“We have to get the drugs out and come together as a community.”

Helwig said residents need to show respect for the community by taking care of their properties, and the borough needs to enforce its ordinances.

“I walk the town a lot,” he said. “A lot of the sidewalks in this town need repaired, which is on the homeowners. Maybe there's some grants for them. We could get groups together to help people out.”

Miller served one term as mayor before being elected to a two-year council seat in 2015.

“I wasn't real sure I was going to like council. That's why I took the two-year term initially,” she said. “As mayor, you don't have a whole lot of power. This is like a different atmosphere.”

Miller cited progress on the borough's water plant project, led by Councilman David Spirk, as one way in which things have gotten better since the last election. The borough is working to get grants to help pay for it and lessen the cost to residents.

An increase in water costs that has upset some residents was necessary, she said.

“Those lines have to be replaced,” she said. “Without the increase, we wouldn't even be able to do those waterlines.

“In turn, the paving wouldn't be completed. We're not going to pave a road unless we can replace everything underneath.”

Anna Spirk, daughter of Councilman David Spirk, was appointed in January to fill the vacancy left by Jason Fry's resignation. She wants to continue working with Miller on recreation.

“I want to bring more of that little hometown feel where you know your neighbors and are able to go out on a Friday and do something in town,” she said.

Anna Spirk said she favors better communication between the borough and residents, including having council meeting agendas available online in advance of meetings. “Once it's into our hands, it's public information. Why can't we post it?”

Ziencik said he wants to stay on to complete some projects, such as the kayak launch.

“That was one of the bigger things I've been working on recently,” he said. “It's a thankless job sometimes. I don't mind as long as it helps the community. Yes, there's unpopular decisions you have to make in this position. It's for the best.”

The borough's infrastructure needs work, and a lack of grants makes it tougher, he said.

“There's no way this borough can afford another (tax) increase of any type. There has to be measures taken, drastic measures.”

With the recent settling of several federal lawsuits against the borough, Ziencik said, “hopefully we're at the light at the end of the tunnel.”

“We have to move forward. It's got to get better from here,” he said. “I can probably say, hopefully, it's going to start getting out of a hole and a little brighter from here. It has to.”

Overly did not respond to requests to be interviewed for this report.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4701, brittmeyer@tribweb.com or on Twitter @BCRittmeyer.


War veteran gets Seton Hill baseball jersey a decade late

By Stephen Huba

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 6:12 p.m.


Friday was a homecoming of sorts for Brandon Rumbaugh, a former Seton Hill University student who went off to Afghanistan and came back a changed man.

“Being able to come back here 10 years later and speak to the team and experience all this — it's an amazing feeling,” Rumbaugh said, standing halfway between the pitcher's mound and home plate.

Rumbaugh, 28, of Uniontown returned to Seton Hill on Friday to accept a $500 donation for the It's About the Warrior Foundation and to receive the baseball jersey he would have worn back in 2007.

The ceremony was held after the first game of a doubleheader against Clarion University. Seton Hill players wore camouflage jerseys for the school's Military Appreciation Day.

“I just felt like if anybody deserved to have his own jersey, he did,” said Griffins head coach Marc Marizzaldi.

An outfielder, Rumbaugh was on the Seton Hill baseball team for one semester before deciding to join the Marine Corps. He practiced with the team but never played a game, Marizzaldi said.

“He was a very hard type of player. Very athletic,” he said.

Rumbaugh ended up doing two tours in Afghan‑istan. In 2010, the corporal lost both legs in an IED explosion.

Today, he wears a prosthesis for his left leg below the knee. His right leg was amputated at the hip. He gets around mostly with crutches and the prosthesis, although he uses a wheelchair at home.

Rumbaugh's involvement with the It's About the Warrior Foundation began after he got out of the hospital, he said.

“They reached out to me and asked if I needed help,” he said. “I thought it was pretty awesome that they approached me instead of me asking for help.”

The Butler-based foundation was founded in 2012 and serves military veterans whose service began after 9/11, regardless of whether they did tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. The nonprofit provides financial, therapeutic and home improvement assistance to veterans from Western Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio and Northern West Virginia who have been honorably discharged.

Rumbaugh serves on the board of directors and oversees the financial grant program, which helps qualifying veterans with things such as utilities, mortgage and car payments. Veterans can apply for as much as $1,000 in assistance a year, he said.

Rumbaugh also travels and does motivational speaking for sports teams, schools, nonprofits and corporations. He founded ACT Motivational Speaking two years ago and spoke to the Seton Hill baseball team last year.

“Ever since I left (in 2007), I always wanted to come back here on good terms,” he said at Friday's ceremony. “When I left, I left a lot of stuff behind, and I wasn't sure what to expect. I just knew that I wanted to go into the Marine Corps.”

For details about the It's About the Warrior Foundation, visit www.iatw.us. Rumbaugh's website is www.brandonrumbaugh.com.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1280, shuba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @shuba_trib.


http://triblive.com/state/pennsylvania/12240857-74/slain-troopers-young-sons-in-court-as-killer-eric-frein-gets-death
http://triblive.com/state/pennsylvania/12240857-74/slain-troopers-young-sons-in-court-as-killer-eric-frein-gets-death
New Kensington-Arnold gives furlough notices to 33 teachers
Norwin probes allegations against Guard recruiter

By Tribune-Review

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 8:33 p.m.


Officials are investigating allegations of “inappropriate conduct” involving a Pennsylvania Army National Guard recruiter assigned to Norwin High School.

In a statement released Friday, Norwin School District said it is “participating in all aspects of the ongoing investigation” and “appropriate authorities have been notified,” including the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services' ChildLine program, the North Huntingdon Township Police Department and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard Command.

Details of the circumstances that triggered the probe weren't provided. Acting township police Chief Rod Mahinske wasn't available for comment.


http://triblive.com/state/pennsylvania/12240857-74/slain-troopers-young-sons-in-court-as-killer-eric-frein-gets-death
http://triblive.com/state/pennsylvania/12240857-74/slain-troopers-young-sons-in-court-as-killer-eric-frein-gets-death
West Deer traffic stop leads to heroin bust

By Chuck Biedka

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 5:09 p.m.


When West Deer police pulled over a Jeep with illegal window tint Wednesday, it resulted in drug trafficking charges being filed against a Pittsburgh man.

The SUV was pulled over along Saxonburg Boulevard near the West Deer No. 2 Fire Hall at about 10:40 a.m. Driver Ronnell Dkwan Bryant, 22, of Highland Park, Pittsburgh, and a passenger who wasn't charged, told police they were looking for the Pittsburgh Mills mall.

Sgt. Darren J. Mikus said things didn't add up. He said police had information about a Highlands Park man suspected of delivering drugs into the township twice a week, so police had reasonable suspicion to call for a police dog.

Indiana Township's police dog walked around the car's exterior and alerted to drugs inside, police said. As a result, police searched the car, Mikus said Friday.

He said police found 250 packets of heroin tucked up under the dashboard.

Frazer, Indiana Township and state attorney general drug agents assisted West Deer police with the arrest.

The charges were filed the same day that the AG's office led a drug sweep in parts of Allegheny and Westmoreland counties, but the stop wasn't part of that, police Chief Jon Lape said.

Lape said Bryant, who doesn't have a criminal record, took sole responsibility for the drugs and not the passenger, who does has a record.

Bryant is charged with having heroin with intent to sell, drug possession and a windshield tint offense.

West Deer District Judge Tom Swan formally charged Bryant and sent him to the Allegheny County Jail in lieu of $250,000 bond pending a preliminary hearing Wednesday.

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4711 or cbiedka@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Chuck Biedka.


Southwest Greensburg councilman dies after long illness
Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
3 Dems vie for 2 Fawn Township supervisor seats in May primary

By Madasyn Czebiniak

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 11:50 p.m.


Three Democrats are vying for two open Fawn supervisors seats in the May 16 primary election.

The candidates include incumbent Cliff Thompson, a former Fawn police chief and current volunteer firefighter; Carrie White, an ophthalmic technician; and Jay Swager, a local businessman.

Supervisor terms are for six years.

Police protection and new development were among the issues two of the candidates vowed to focus on.

The supervisors earlier this year discussed the possibility of scrapping the township's police department, which is made up of one full-time officer, Chief Tim Mayberry, and two part-time officers. For coverage at other hours, the township relies on the state police based in East Franklin, Armstrong County.

Candidates Jay Swager and Carrie White want to retain Fawn's police.

Swager, 61, thinks a local department is beneficial because it offers a quicker response time and some residents are familiar with the officers.

He would, however, like to see officers return to on-call duty, because he doesn't think Fawn can afford to pay for 24/7 coverage.

“Years ago we had police on-call,” he said. “They got paid so much for an hour, they could be home, and if there was an incident, they could be called in to be put on duty.”

White wants to make sure that not only the Fawn police department is retained, but also the township's two volunteer fire departments.

“The two fire departments that we have in this township have been at odds for years,” said White, 53. “I hope that we can try to put that to rest and make sure that our public safety is going to be there when we need it.”

Both Swager and White would also like to see the township become more proactive in seeking new development.

Swager, the owner of J&J Power Equipment on Howes Run Road, is pushing for new housing developments in Fawn. He's also interested in designating more areas for businesses.

“I know zoning is a good thing, but some people would like to start a business, and they don't have a place to start it,” Swager said. “You just can't decide that you want to put a big car dealership right in the middle of a residential area, but you just have to somehow make it a little bit easier.”

White said the township has no draw for people aside from a few gas stations and a car repair shop. She wants that to change.

“If somebody wants to have a meeting or have a function … they have no place to do it,” she said. “We really don't have anything in the township to want to bring people (here). I'm about bringing it in to benefit the community.”

Though Swager doesn't have any prior political experience, he said residents should vote for him because he can relate to them.

“You're not dealing with somebody that makes six figures a year and looks down on everybody else,” Swager said. “I'm just regular working people like most of the other people in the township.”

White serves on both the Fawn Planning Commission and Fawn Sewage Authority.

The May 16 primary is her third time running for supervisor.

White said she is the best candidate because she cares about the township.

“I care about the people, how they're affected by what goes on in this township,” she said. “I think in today's day and age that gets pushed aside. I think everything's based on numbers, everything's based on everything other than the human factor, and I think that that really needs to be brought back into why we do things.”

Thompson, 87, is seeking re-election for his third term as supervisor.

A 1948 graduate of West Deer High School, Thompson said he tries to do the right thing for the people and doesn't make promises he can't keep.

“I'm not a blowhard,” Thompson said. “I don't like to commit myself to anything I can't do.”

Thompson did not elaborate when asked what issues he would like to address if re-elected, though he did say he has been told that nobody has done as much for the township as he has.

“I'm just going to try to keep doing what I'm doing now,” he said.

Madasyn Czebiniak is a Tribune-Review staff writer.


Fired Greensburg cop files race discrimination suit

By Brian Bowling

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 4:30 p.m.


Justin Adams received mostly good reviews from his Greensburg police supervisors — until the day they fired him, he claimed in a federal civil rights lawsuit filed Friday.

Adams, who is black, said white officers frequently made derogatory comments about blacks and used racial slurs against him, often in the presence of supervisors.

“There was a hostile work environment that was created through racial slurs and racial attacks,” said Lawrence Bolind, Adams' lawyer.

The city hired him on June 21, 2015. As Adams was nearing the end of his probationary period, he was called to Chief Chad Zucco's office on April 28, 2016, and fired for alleged performance deficiencies that were seven to eight months old, Bolind said.

“The day he was terminated, they show this extraordinary amount of performance deficiencies that were never brought to his attention during his probationary period,” he said.

The deficiencies were a pretext for getting rid of a black police officer while he was still on probation, the lawsuit states.

Adams is suing Zucco and the city, the police department and several police and city officials. Zucco, City Administrator Sue Trout and Solicitor Bernard McArdle couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Adams, 26, has been an accredited police officer since January 2013 and has never been reprimanded or suspended and has a “spotless employment record” at every department where he has worked, the lawsuit states.

When the city hired him, he was immediately used undercover to identify black drug dealers for other police officers, the lawsuit says.

During this assignment, officers frequently made racial comments including, “There was one black guy here prior to you for a reason,” the lawsuit states.

During a Feb. 1, 2016, conversation with other police officers outside of the Sheetz convenience store on Harvey Avenue, Adams said more blacks joining the police force would help community relations, the lawsuit states.

A police sergeant responded, “They could if they weren't so busy doing drugs and getting arrested … most of ‘them' have criminal records,” according to the lawsuit.

One of the more disturbing incidents was when one of the officer's spouses brought in spaghetti for the shift and an officer commented that Adams was disappointed it wasn't fried chicken, Bolind said.

While Adams informally complained about the behavior to supervisors, it was difficult to press a complaint since the supervisors witnessed many incidents and didn't do anything to stop them, he said.

“How do you take a complaint forward when your superiors were in the room?” he said.

Adams seeks punitive and compensatory damages, including lost pay.

Brian Bowling is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1218, bbowling@tribweb.com or via Twitter @TribBrian.


New Kensington woman faces animal cruelty charges
Power restored in North Huntingdon, Irwin


By Tribune-Review

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 3:09 p.m.


Traffic lights were out of order for a few hours Friday along Route 30 from the Rocky Road intersection west of the Pennsylvania Turnpike exit in North Huntingdon to Irwin as a result of a power outage, according to township police.

Power was restored to customers at about 3 p.m., West Penn Power spokesman Todd Meyers said.

About 400 customers were initally without power when some switches on a pole failed at the intersection of Route 30 and Fairwood Drive, Meyers said. About 300 of the customers were in North Huntingdon and the remainder in Irwin, Meyers said.

The utility had to interrupt power to about 100 more customers to safely make repairs, he said.


2 drivers dead in violent Route 30 crash

By Renatta Signorini

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 4:30 a.m.


Two Westmoreland County men died Thursday following a violent three-vehicle crash on Route 30 in Unity, authorities said.

Richard P. McLaughlin, 72, of Unity was pronounced dead at Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg after the force of the 7:30 p.m. crash ripped in half his Buick Regal as he turned onto Route 30, state police and Westmoreland County Deputy Coroner Josh Zappone said.

Bryan Newhouse, 29, of Latrobe died at UPMC Presbyterian in Pittsburgh, according to the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office.

Debris from the crash, including an engine block and the back half of the Buick, stretched hundreds of feet on Route 30.

State police and the county coroner said in news releases that McLaughlin had a green light and was turning left onto the highway from Lewis Road when a Volkswagen GTI traveling west on Route 30 ran a red light and slammed into McLaughlin's car. The Volkswagen was driven by Newhouse, police said.

The back end of the Buick was thrown into the eastbound lanes and struck a sport utility vehicle driven by a 64-year-old Harrison City woman who was stopped at the red light on Route 30.

Jolene Hill, a nurse at a nearby doctor's office, was working late when she heard the crash and looked outside.

“I saw a lone tire just rolling down the westbound lane,” she said. “I ran up over the hill, and that's when I saw the red car.”

Hill said two men in the Volkswagen were unresponsive when she ran up — in her bare feet because she'd taken her shoes off while catching up on paperwork. Police said two Latrobe men — ages 34 and 25 — were passengers in the Volkswagen.

Seeing that the driver was unconscious and struggling to breathe, Hill said she held up his head to keep his airway clear until another nurse, then firefighters, arrived. The rear-seat passenger also was unconscious but appeared to awaken after a few moments, she said. All three in the Volkswagen were transported to area hospitals.

The highway near Toyota of Greensburg was closed for several hours Thursday night. That stretch of Route 30 is traveled by about 33,000 motorists daily, according to a PennDOT map. The speed limit there is 50 mph.

Kepple-Graft Funeral Home is handling McLaughlin's arrangements. He died of multiple blunt-force injuries, Zappone said. Newhouse's cause of death was unavailable Friday.

Staff writer Matt Santoni contributed. Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-837-5374, rsignorini@tribweb.com or via Twitter @byrenatta.


Life or death for 'Greensburg Six' killer to be decided in October

By Joe Napsha

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 12:03 p.m.


Five codefendants of convicted murderer Melvin Knight — who were involved in the 2010 torture and killing of a mentally challenged woman in Greensburg — may be called to testify before a jury decides whether to sentence him to death or life in prison, a defense attorney said Friday.

Attorney Timothy Dawson said he could call Knight's codefendants to testify in the new penalty phase in connection with his 2012 plea to first-degree and second-degree murder of Jennifer Daugherty, 30, of Mt. Pleasant.

Dawson also plans to call psychologists, family members, friends and anyone who can support the mitigating factors admissible in a death sentencing, he said.

Following a brief court proceeding regarding the case Friday, Assistant District Attorney Leo J. Ciaramitaro said he does not anticipate “much difference in how the commonwealth proceeds in the case than the first time.”

Westmoreland County Judge Rita Hathaway said jury selection will begin Sept. 25 and that she will allot two weeks for the penalty phase, which is to begin on Oct. 16.

Knight, 27, formerly of Swissvale, is being held at SCI Greene near Waynesburg. He did not attend Friday's status conference.

Knight was one of six Greensburg roommates who held Daugherty captive for more than two days, beating her and torturing her before she was stabbed to death.

Knight is accused of raping Daugherty and stabbing her in the heart.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned Knight's death sentence in November. The court determined jurors weren't properly told that they should have included Knight's lack of a criminal record among the “mitigating factors” when deciding if he should receive the death penalty.

The jury found Knight had “mental health issues” that were a mitigating factor but determined that alone was outweighed by the horrific nature of the murder.

One of his codefendants, Ricky Smyrnes, 31, was convicted by a jury and also sentenced to death. His death sentence, however was upheld in February by the state Supreme Court.

None of Knight's other codefendants received the death penalty. Angela Marinucci, 24, was convicted of first-degree murder and is serving a life sentence. Amber Meidinger, 27, who testified against her codefendants, pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and is serving a maximum of 80 years in prison. Robert Masters, 43, and Peggy Miller, 34, also pleaded guilty to third-degree murder. Masters is serving up to 70 years, and Miller was sentenced to spend up to 75 years in prison.

Dawson said he met with Knight on Thursday and described his demeanor as “quiet, but resolved.” Knight “talked extensively about his family, his background and his mental health background, all of which needs to be explored for the sentencing phase,” Dawson said.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.


<br/>Pennsylvania State Police Lieutenant Brian Vennie is embraced by a friend during sentencing for convicted cop killer Eric Frein on Wednesday, April 26, 2017, at the Pike County Courthouse in Milford, Pa. Frein, the would-be revolutionary who shot two Pennsylvania troopers, one fatally, in a late-night attack at their barracks, was sentenced to death late Wednesday. (Butch Comegys/The Times & Tribune via AP)

Pennsylvania State Police Lieutenant Brian Vennie is embraced by a friend during sentencing for convicted cop killer Eric Frein on Wednesday, April 26, 2017, at the Pike County Courthouse in Milford, Pa. Frein, the would-be revolutionary who shot two Pennsylvania troopers, one fatally, in a late-night attack at their barracks, was sentenced to death late Wednesday. (Butch Comegys/The Times & Tribune via AP)
Greensburg museum of American art to serve as backdrop for citizenship ceremony

By Debra Erdley

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 11:54 a.m.


In a ceremony almost as old as the nation, 14 new Americans from 13 countries on Wednesday will take the oath of citizenship at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art.

The 1 p.m. ceremony, which is open to the public, marks the first time a naturalization ceremony has been held outside the Westmoreland County courthouse.

Museum CEO Judith O'Toole said she pitched the idea to Prothonotary Christina O'Brien after hearing about another museum of American art hosting naturalization ceremonies.

Hosting the ceremony in a museum rich in the history of American art seemed like a great way to welcome new citizens to another important aspect of the nation, O'Toole said. She said museum staffers will welcome new citizens and their families to explore exhibits and take photographs by artist Rembrandt Peale's portrait of George Washington.

“We want them to know the museum is for everyone, not just wealthy people who get dressed up for special events,” she said. “We'd like them to be able to see the country through our artists' eyes.”

O'Brien jumped at the opportunity.

“It seemed like a nice way for (citizenship candidates) to get out into the community,” she said.

O'Brien said next week's ceremony will be distinctive in the number of countries represented among the citizenship candidates.

“The most varied groups usually represent no more than three or four countries,” she said.

While the setting may be new, the ceremony will hue to tradition. Common Pleas Judge Rita Hathaway will administer the oath of citizenship. Using a script that has changed slightly over the decades, she will ask each candidate to renounce all foreign powers and defend and protect the constitution of the United States.

Debra Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-320-7996 or derdley@tribweb.com or via Twitter @deberdley_trib.


<br>
<p><strong>By The Associated Press</strong><br/><br>
<em>Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 7:18 p.m.</em></p><br>
 <p class= MILFORD — With his victim's two young sons in court for the first time, a gunman who shot and killed a Pennsylvania trooper was formally sentenced to death Thursday, one day after a jury determined he should receive a lethal injection for the ambush at a state police barracks.

Eric Frein traded a suit and tie for prison garb, and his hands and feet were shackled as a judge pronounced what he called an “entirely warranted” sentence on the convicted murderer and terrorist.

Frein killed Cpl. Bryon Dickson, a 38-year-old Marine veteran, and left Trooper Alex Douglass permanently disabled in the Sept. 12, 2014, attack at the Blooming Grove barracks. He eluded capture for 48 days, with state police spending more than $11 million on a manhunt that spanned hundreds of square miles of the rugged Pocono Mountains.

The jurors, who were brought in from the Philadelphia suburbs because of intensive news coverage of the case in the Poconos, attended Thursday's hearing as spectators. Douglass chatted with them privately for several minutes before Frein was sentenced, doling out handshakes and hugs.

Dickson's sons, Bryon III, 10, and Adam, 8, were in the gallery as sheriff's deputies led Frein into court.

“You ready?” said their mother, Tiffany Dickson. “He's right there,” she said, pointing to Frein as he walked past. “That's what he looks like, OK?”

Tiffany Dickson later showed Pike County Judge Gregory Chelak a slideshow of her life with the slain trooper, set to the couple's wedding song. Chelak also heard from Dickson's mother, Douglass and state police officials including Commissioner Tyree Blocker.

The judge said he hoped the intensive media attention on Frein would wane.

“It is the hope of this court that the story of Eric Frein ends today,” Chelak said, going on to call Dickson a “selfless servant” and “shining example of bravery and courage.” He had similarly laudatory things to say about Douglass.

Given a chance to address the court, Frein shook his head and said nothing.

About 20 uniformed troopers representing barracks throughout northeastern Pennsylvania stood in unison as he was led out, destined for Pennsylvania's death row.

Prosecutors said Frein, 33, hoped to start an uprising against the government when he ambushed the two troopers during a late-night shift change.

Prosecutors portrayed him as a remorseless killer who attacked troopers at random in hopes of fomenting rebellion. The defense had asked the jury to spare Frein's life, arguing he'd been raised in a dysfunctional home. The jurors rejected his upbringing as a mitigating factor that would point them toward a sentence of life in prison without parole.

Frein's lawyers promised to tie up his case in appeals.

There are 171 people on death row in Pennsylvania, which hasn't carried out an execution since 1999 and only three since the U.S. Supreme Court restored the death penalty more than 40 years ago. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has imposed a statewide moratorium on executions.

Wolf's spokesman, J.J. Abbott, said the governor's decision to issue “temporary reprieves” while a state Senate task force reviews the death penalty in Pennsylvania “is in no way an expression of sympathy for the guilty on death row.”

“Governor Wolf believes Eric Frein is a monster who targeted State Police members and that justice has been served by a jury of his peers,” Abbott told The Associated Press.


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By The Associated Press

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 7:18 p.m.


MILFORD — With his victim's two young sons in court for the first time, a gunman who shot and killed a Pennsylvania trooper was formally sentenced to death Thursday, one day after a jury determined he should receive a lethal injection for the ambush at a state police barracks.

Eric Frein traded a suit and tie for prison garb, and his hands and feet were shackled as a judge pronounced what he called an “entirely warranted” sentence on the convicted murderer and terrorist.

Frein killed Cpl. Bryon Dickson, a 38-year-old Marine veteran, and left Trooper Alex Douglass permanently disabled in the Sept. 12, 2014, attack at the Blooming Grove barracks. He eluded capture for 48 days, with state police spending more than $11 million on a manhunt that spanned hundreds of square miles of the rugged Pocono Mountains.

The jurors, who were brought in from the Philadelphia suburbs because of intensive news coverage of the case in the Poconos, attended Thursday's hearing as spectators. Douglass chatted with them privately for several minutes before Frein was sentenced, doling out handshakes and hugs.

Dickson's sons, Bryon III, 10, and Adam, 8, were in the gallery as sheriff's deputies led Frein into court.

“You ready?” said their mother, Tiffany Dickson. “He's right there,” she said, pointing to Frein as he walked past. “That's what he looks like, OK?”

Tiffany Dickson later showed Pike County Judge Gregory Chelak a slideshow of her life with the slain trooper, set to the couple's wedding song. Chelak also heard from Dickson's mother, Douglass and state police officials including Commissioner Tyree Blocker.

The judge said he hoped the intensive media attention on Frein would wane.

“It is the hope of this court that the story of Eric Frein ends today,” Chelak said, going on to call Dickson a “selfless servant” and “shining example of bravery and courage.” He had similarly laudatory things to say about Douglass.

Given a chance to address the court, Frein shook his head and said nothing.

About 20 uniformed troopers representing barracks throughout northeastern Pennsylvania stood in unison as he was led out, destined for Pennsylvania's death row.

Prosecutors said Frein, 33, hoped to start an uprising against the government when he ambushed the two troopers during a late-night shift change.

Prosecutors portrayed him as a remorseless killer who attacked troopers at random in hopes of fomenting rebellion. The defense had asked the jury to spare Frein's life, arguing he'd been raised in a dysfunctional home. The jurors rejected his upbringing as a mitigating factor that would point them toward a sentence of life in prison without parole.

Frein's lawyers promised to tie up his case in appeals.

There are 171 people on death row in Pennsylvania, which hasn't carried out an execution since 1999 and only three since the U.S. Supreme Court restored the death penalty more than 40 years ago. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has imposed a statewide moratorium on executions.

Wolf's spokesman, J.J. Abbott, said the governor's decision to issue “temporary reprieves” while a state Senate task force reviews the death penalty in Pennsylvania “is in no way an expression of sympathy for the guilty on death row.”

“Governor Wolf believes Eric Frein is a monster who targeted State Police members and that justice has been served by a jury of his peers,” Abbott told The Associated Press.


" />


By The Associated Press

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 7:18 p.m.


MILFORD — With his victim's two young sons in court for the first time, a gunman who shot and killed a Pennsylvania trooper was formally sentenced to death Thursday, one day after a jury determined he should receive a lethal injection for the ambush at a state police barracks.

Eric Frein traded a suit and tie for prison garb, and his hands and feet were shackled as a judge pronounced what he called an “entirely warranted” sentence on the convicted murderer and terrorist.

Frein killed Cpl. Bryon Dickson, a 38-year-old Marine veteran, and left Trooper Alex Douglass permanently disabled in the Sept. 12, 2014, attack at the Blooming Grove barracks. He eluded capture for 48 days, with state police spending more than $11 million on a manhunt that spanned hundreds of square miles of the rugged Pocono Mountains.

The jurors, who were brought in from the Philadelphia suburbs because of intensive news coverage of the case in the Poconos, attended Thursday's hearing as spectators. Douglass chatted with them privately for several minutes before Frein was sentenced, doling out handshakes and hugs.

Dickson's sons, Bryon III, 10, and Adam, 8, were in the gallery as sheriff's deputies led Frein into court.

“You ready?” said their mother, Tiffany Dickson. “He's right there,” she said, pointing to Frein as he walked past. “That's what he looks like, OK?”

Tiffany Dickson later showed Pike County Judge Gregory Chelak a slideshow of her life with the slain trooper, set to the couple's wedding song. Chelak also heard from Dickson's mother, Douglass and state police officials including Commissioner Tyree Blocker.

The judge said he hoped the intensive media attention on Frein would wane.

“It is the hope of this court that the story of Eric Frein ends today,” Chelak said, going on to call Dickson a “selfless servant” and “shining example of bravery and courage.” He had similarly laudatory things to say about Douglass.

Given a chance to address the court, Frein shook his head and said nothing.

About 20 uniformed troopers representing barracks throughout northeastern Pennsylvania stood in unison as he was led out, destined for Pennsylvania's death row.

Prosecutors said Frein, 33, hoped to start an uprising against the government when he ambushed the two troopers during a late-night shift change.

Prosecutors portrayed him as a remorseless killer who attacked troopers at random in hopes of fomenting rebellion. The defense had asked the jury to spare Frein's life, arguing he'd been raised in a dysfunctional home. The jurors rejected his upbringing as a mitigating factor that would point them toward a sentence of life in prison without parole.

Frein's lawyers promised to tie up his case in appeals.

There are 171 people on death row in Pennsylvania, which hasn't carried out an execution since 1999 and only three since the U.S. Supreme Court restored the death penalty more than 40 years ago. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has imposed a statewide moratorium on executions.

Wolf's spokesman, J.J. Abbott, said the governor's decision to issue “temporary reprieves” while a state Senate task force reviews the death penalty in Pennsylvania “is in no way an expression of sympathy for the guilty on death row.”

“Governor Wolf believes Eric Frein is a monster who targeted State Police members and that justice has been served by a jury of his peers,” Abbott told The Associated Press.


Salem Township neighbors, land heal year after pipeline explosion

By Debra Erdley

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 11:05 p.m.


The rolling green hills interspersed with brown ribbons of newly plowed fields on Randy Gillis' Salem farm are an image of spring fit for a postcard.

Little hints at the destruction that scoured the fields after a 30-inch natural gas pipeline exploded the morning of April 29, 2016, sending a huge fireball hundreds of feet into the sky, leaving a massive crater and a desolate reddish clay landscape in its wake.

A year later, the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has yet to issue its final report about the blast that scorched about 40 acres of farm fields, leveled a brick ranch house, left a man seriously burned, melted the siding on several nearby homes and rattled windows for miles around.

In a preliminary report, investigators said one factor in the explosion was failure of the tape coating used to seal the weld joints on 40-foot-long sections of pipe when the line was installed in 1981. Failure of the tape, which has been replaced by new technology, contributed to accelerated corrosion of the steel pipe.

Safety administration spokesman Darius Kirkwood could not offer a release date for the final report. He said Enbridge Inc., the company that acquired pipeline operator Spectra Energy this year, remains subject to a corrective action order the agency issued last summer, detailing requirements for testing, investigation and startup processes for the affected lines.

Gillis, whose family has farmed the 150-acre spread since the 1930s, said the burn area has been treated with lime, fertilizer and new topsoil. He's planning to move his beef herd onto pasture on part of the site this week and hopes the fields he plowed on another portion do well this summer.

“It was hard when I plowed. But we haven't been through a growing season yet, so we just don't know,” he said.

Gillis lives on the farm with his wife, Wendy, and their three children. Although their farmhouse and barn escaped damages, the brick ranch house where his late parents once lived was obliterated by the blast.

James Baker, a 26-year-old newlywed who was renting the house with his wife, Kellie, was home that morning recovering from a broken ankle when the inferno tore through. Baker spent months in the hospital and lost part of a leg as a result of his burns. He and his wife have relocated to Greensburg, where friends say he is working to rebuild his life.

Wendy Gillis said she, her husband and children have driven out along the pipeline right of way and marveled at how the land and foliage are coming back.

Reminders remain

But watching workmen finally bulldozing the remains of the house where Randy Gillis' parents once lived and where the Bakers' lives were changed forever was emotionally trying.

“That was very hard for me and Randy. His brother and sister were out and each took out a brick to keep. It is really heart-breaking,” she said.

Their neighbors, retirees Richard and Linda Johnston, who live on a hill high above the Gillis farm, say the bare branches on one side of the tree in their yard are a reminder of the heat that seared the land that morning.

“I was having my coffee and he was reading the newspaper,” Linda Johnston said. “(The blast) was nerve-wracking. Our sliding glass doors melted. We grabbed our emergency papers and money and the dog and got out.

“About a month later when I was washing my car, I noticed that the side mirror was partway melted,” she said.

Persistent concerns

Don Deaver of Plano, Texas, a mechanical engineer with three decades of experience in the pipeline industry, was an investigator for plaintiffs' attorneys in a horrific 2010 natural gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, Calif. A 30-inch line like the one in Salem exploded there, leveling 35 homes, killing eight and injuring dozens in the heavily populated suburb.

While the energy industry maintains that underground pipelines are the safest way to move their products, Deaver said too often they are near homes and schools.

“Each one of these is a precursor of what can happen out there. A 30-inch, high-pressure pipeline is capable of creating a zone of death of 700 to 800 feet,” Deaver said.

Deaver wasn't surprised that pipeline company officials excavated hundreds of locations along the pipeline between Delmont and Lamberstville, N.J., after the Salem explosion.

In a release to shareholders last summer, the company disclosed that costs for repairs and remediation were expected to run as high as $75 million to $100 million.

Company officials said their findings prompted them to reduce the interval between in-line inspections of such pipelines, which federal regulations require every seven years, to once every three to four years.

It's unclear what, if any, work remains on the lines that once again are buried in the earth.

Enbridge spokesman Phil West said the 30-inch pipeline that exploded and three others that run parallel to it have all have returned to service, with the exception of one section.

“Approximately seven miles of line 27 (the line that exploded) remains out of service, from the Delmont compressor station to the east,” West said.

Debra Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer.She can be reached at 412-320-7996 or derdley@tribweb.com or via Twitter @deberdley_trib.


Greensburg Community Development Corp. closing in on new director

By Jacob Tierney

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 11:00 p.m.


The next director of the Greensburg Community Development Corp. will have to hit the ground running, said city planning director Barbara Ciampini.

“The city of Greensburg and the Greensburg Community Development Corp. are on the cusp of a lot of good things happening,” she said.

The corporation board has been looking for a new director since last month, when Steven Gifford announced he would step down from the position after 12 years to take over the Butler County Community Development Corp.

“We've got resumes in, we have a committee formed, and I believe we're going to be starting some of the interviewing next week,” board President Jeff Anzovino said.

The committee received more than 25 applications, which have been whittled to a final field of six, Anzovino said.

“I feel like there's probably someone in there who can fill Steve's very large shoes,” Ciampini said.

Gifford has been splitting his time this month between his job in Greensburg and the new position in Butler.

He'll officially leave Greensburg at the end of the month but will continue to assist the corporation until the new director is established, Anzovino said.

The GCDC is a nonprofit corporation designed to foster economic growth in the city. The director must be a skilled communicator, able to converse and connect with government officials, business leaders and developers, Ciampini said.

“The executive director of the GCDC and I are in constant communication,” she said.

Some of the finalists are from the Greensburg area. Anzovino said he would prefer a local candidate, but geography won't be a deciding factor.

“I'm not speaking for GCDC, but my preference is to have someone local, because I think having someone living in the area and trying to promote the area is more beneficial than someone coming in from outside the county or outside the city,” he said.

However, qualifications matter more than residency, Anzovino said.

Ciampini said a different perspective might be a benefit.

“Sometimes fresh eyes bring a whole new outlook into the community,” she said.

The next developer will have a lot to do, including fostering the fledgling tax-break program for developers who improve city properties, Ciampini said.

Gifford and the city spent years planning various initiatives, and Ciampini said she hopes to see them all come together when someone new takes the helm.

“It's finally coming together. Things are changing in a positive direction,” she said.

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6646 or jtierney@tribweb.com.


3 women seek GOP nod to oppose Prothonotary Christina O'Brien

By Rich Cholodofsky

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 10:33 p.m.


The three women seeking the Republican nomination to challenge Prothonotary Christina O'Brien, a Democrat, each said her administrative and leadership skills make her the best candidate for the GOP to win the office for the first time in decades.

The prothonotary's office is where all civil and family court records are filed and the only courthouse office where passports are processed. The successful candidate will win a four-year term and earn $67,504 annually.

Kimberly Horrell, a deputy in the register of wills office; Susan Ilgenfritz, a sales representative with AAA in Murrysville; and Gina O'Barto, an administrative assistant at a Greensburg machine shop, are seeking the Republican nomination in the May 16 primary.

Horrell of Hempfield started working at the courthouse last year after 27 years as a postmaster in Youngstown and holding marketing jobs with the U.S. Postal Service. She said she wants the prothonotary to better serve the public by taking its passport services on the road to senior centers and colleges.

She wants to make the office more accessible by coordinating with other courthouse offices with late afternoon or early evening hours. Several offices, such as the register of wills, the recorder of deeds and the prothonotary, remain open after the courthouse closes at 4 p.m., but on different days.

“My experience in government, my experience as a manger, allows me to reorganize the office to better serve the public. I'm dedicated to the county to make things better,” Horrell said.

Ilgenfritz of Murrysville, is the only GOP candidate with political experience, having served as a member of the Franklin Regional School board since 2013. She said her business and management experience will enable her to make the office more efficient.

She said she wants to improve the office's efficiency and customer service

Ilgenfritz said she favors term limits and would cap her position as head of the office at three four-year terms.

O'Barto, of Unity, works as an office assistant at EDM Services in Greensburg and is seeking public office for the first time. She previously worked at other businesses and in the administrative offices at Greater Latrobe Area High School.

“I am not part of the establishment,” O'Barto said. “I stand apart from them (her opponents). I'm a fresh, new face because I have never run for office before and I have fresh, new ideas.”

Those ideas include providing better training for employees to ensure all staff members can perform any jobs in the office. O'Barto said her business experience with budgets will enable her to establish a system to ensure the public has access to all information.

She said she will not release specific plans until after she is elected and is able to evaluate office functions.

O'Brien, 50, of Mt. Pleasant Township, is unopposed in the Democratic primary. She is seeking her third term.

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.


Steelers select Pitt RB Conner in 3rd round of NFL Draft
Steelers select USC wide receiver in second round

By Chris Adamski

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 9:51 p.m.


Long before he was JuJu Smith-Schuster, the Steelers' newest wide receiver was simply John Smith.

Plain name, flashy career so far.

A five-star recruit to USC, he was highly productive at the Pac-12 level and became the Steelers' second-round pick late Friday evening.

Smith-Schuster officially added the second surname to honor his stepfather. But why “JuJu?”

“Just growing up as a kid, my auntie called me ‘John-John,' then ‘JoJo' and it all switched up and finally it went ‘Choo Choo' — and it stuck as ‘JuJu,' ” Smith-Schuster said after he was drafted.

The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Smith-Schuster had 213 catches for 3,092 yards and 25 touchdowns to finish his college career fourth on the Trojans' all-time list in receptions. His most productive season came as a sophomore in 2015: 89 catches, 1,454 yards, 10 touchdowns.

A back injury last season limited Smith-Schuster to 70 catches for 914 yards and 10 touchdowns, including seven receptions for 133 yards and a touchdown in USC's Rose Bowl victory against Penn State.

“He's a big, good-sized receiver who was very productive out there at USC,” Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley said. “Really kind of a do-it-all guy; can play inside, outside.

“If you had to say what he excels at, I'd say his ability to catch the ball in combative situations, 50-50 balls as we call them, he usually comes down with them.”

Smith won't turn 21 until November 22. He was the youngest player invited to the combine. Smith-Schuster is the second-youngest player drafted by the Steelers since the 1970 merger — Bruce Kimball was 19 when he was a seventh-round pick in 1979.

The Steelers often have cited their desire to take younger players because their bodies are still maturing, and their potential has not yet been fully tapped.

“We've had good success with young guys like that who we feel like we are getting early enough to really can make a good impact on his development,” Haley said.

The Steelers have drafted at least one receiver for the sixth year in a row (seven total in that time). Smith-Schuster is the 15th receiver they have taken in the past 13 drafts.

Still on the team from recent drafts are All Pro Antonio Brown (2010 sixth-round pick), Martavis Bryant (2014 fourth round), Sammie Coates (2015 third round) and DeMarcus Ayers (last year's seventh round).

Veterans Darrius Heyward-Bey and Cobi Hamilton and then-first-year Eli Rogers were also part of the receiving corps last season. Bryant was not because he was serving a yearlong suspension for violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy.

“I have an opportunity to have mentors like those guys over there and to learn as a young dude coming in,” Smith-Schuster said.

Smith-Schuster said he was surprised when he heard the Steelers drafted him because they had not spoken to him other than a 15-minute “speed dating session” (as Smith-Schuster called it Friday).

Apparently, some of the other Steelers receivers were surprised by the pick, too — at least if their tweets are to believed.

Soon after the pick, a since-deleted message posted to Bryant's verified Twitter account read: “lol that's Sammie coates replacement not minds take it how you want to I am back.”

Coates tweeted laughter in response. Eventually, coach Mike Tomlin tweeted for the first time in 107 days, telling Bryant and Coates to “play nice boys.”

Smith-Schuster? His only tweets read about being “blessed” and how he was “Ready To Work!!!!”

Haley gushed about Smith-Schuster's competitiveness and passion, lauding the receiver's blocking ability.

Smith-Schuster returned some kickoffs in college but said he has not returned punts since high school.

“Honestly, I'll do anything possible to bring the Steelers back to the Super Bowl,” Smith-Schuster said, “whether it's on special teams, it's being a backup, being a role player — anything that it takes.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.


Steelers address secondary in third round, draft Tennessee CB

By Joe Rutter

Published: Saturday, April 29, 2017, 12:18 a.m.


The Steelers addressed their desire to add competition at cornerback Friday in the third round of the NFL Draft, taking Tennessee's Cameron Sutton with the No. 94 overall pick.

Sutton was the first of two picks in the third round for the Steelers.

Sutton, a 5-foot-11, 188-pounder who also can return punts, was a four-year starter at Tennessee. Steelers defensive backs coach Carnell Lake said Sutton was attractive because of his ability to play press coverage.

The Steelers struggled in press coverage during the AFC championship game loss to New England.

“Our focus is to be more versatile as a defense,” Lake said. “We'll install more man this year. I believe he will help us in that area.”

Said Sutton: “I'm very comfortable doing that. I did that every play in college.”

As a senior, Sutton fractured an ankle in a nonconference game against Ohio as a senior and missed about half the season.

In seven games, Sutton had 23 tackles, one interception and four pass breakups. He said he didn't feel 100 percent healthy until the Senior Bowl in late January.

Lake said Sutton also could help the Steelers inside in the nickel package.

“He's done both, but we'll look to see what he can do when he gets here,” Lake said. “The more versatile he is, the quicker he can get on the field.”

Veteran Ross Cockrell and 2016 first-round pick Artie Burns finished last season as starters, with William Gay in the slot. Gay, however, struggled in the Patriots' loss, and Cockrell received only a fourth-round tender, an indication the Steelers don't view him as a long-term solution.

The Steelers also signed free agent Coty Sensabaugh and have former second-round pick Senquez Golson trying to shake off two seasons lost to injury.

“Competition brings out the best in every player,” Lake said.

Sutton returned two punts for touchdowns as a junior, and he also had one interception and six pass breakups. He led Tennessee with 16 passes defensed as a sophomore that included three interceptions. He also had a punt return for a touchdown that season.

Sutton met with the Steelers before his pro day at Tennessee and said his availability on special teams was discussed.

“That's going to be a big part of it,” he said. “Hopefully, I can do that as well.”

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jrutter@tribweb.com or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.


Sheary trying to shake off playoff slump

By Jonathan Bombulie

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 6:54 p.m.


WASHINGTON — Two weeks ago, Conor Sheary was the poster child for everything that's right about Penguins hockey.

In Game 2 of a first-round series with Columbus, he flew in on the forecheck, harassed goalie Sergei Bobrovsky into a turnover and helped set up Jake Guentzel for an important goal.

It set the tone for the series.

Columbus has big, mean forwards who like to punish opponents on the forecheck. They might even gain a possession advantage because of their bulk. But the Penguins would fly in undetected, steal the bully's lunch money and make him cry.

It was an approach that carried the Penguins to a Stanley Cup 11 months prior, and it was working again.

Two weeks is an eternity on the playoff hockey calendar, however, and as the Penguins get ready for Game 2 of a second-round series with Washington on Saturday night, Sheary is in a much different place.

His assist on Guentzel's goal was one of only two points he has recorded in six playoff games. He has yet to score a goal.

When he has been on the ice at even strength in the postseason, the Penguins have been outshot 70-46 and outscored 8-4.

In other words, Sheary is in a slump, and it's a good one.

“If you're out there for a couple goals against, it might hurt you, especially confidence-wise,” Sheary said. “If you're giving up goals and not scoring any, it doesn't look good on your part.”

At the end of the Columbus series, coach Mike Sullivan dropped Sheary from the team's top line, inserting Patric Hornqvist in his place. At the time, Sullivan was able to soft-pedal the move.

Just want to get a different look on Sidney Crosby's wing. Sheary isn't scoring, but he's still playing well away from the puck. Nothing to see here.

But in Game 1 against Washington on Thursday night, the Capitals outshot the Penguins, 10-0, when Sheary was on the ice at even strength. When Evgeny Kuznetsov scored the tying goal on a wide-open shot from the left faceoff circle in the third period, Sheary was the closest defender to him.

Sullivan now has to acknowledge the obvious.

“Certainly, we know Conor has a much better game, and that's what we're trying to help him get to,” Sullivan said. “He's had a great year for us. He's played so much great hockey. He's scored big goals, and he's a competitive kid. It's our responsibility as his coaches to try to help him get to his game, and that's what we're trying to do. The last couple (games) I don't think have been his best.”

Sheary said he had a couple of nagging injuries that were giving him problems at the end of the regular season, but they're no longer an issue. Now, what he has to do is put into action his plan for getting back on track.

First, don't dwell.

“Everybody gets there. I've been there a lot this year,” said winger Scott Wilson, a close friend of Sheary. “I know some teams have guys that kind of shake the locker room when they're not doing well or not getting bounces. Shears has done a good job of just saying positive. He'll come out of it soon.”

Second, remember his core competencies.

“For the most part, I'm trying to stick to my things: speed and instincts and elusiveness and quickness,” Sheary said. “I'm trying to get back to that as much as I can and play in the offensive zone.”

Finally, look to past successes as a model for future gains.

After all, the good, old days were only two weeks ago.

“It is only a six-game slump. It's not forever,” Sheary said. “But I would like to dig myself out of it.”

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jbombulie@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @BombulieTrib.


Gorman's take 5: Day Two of NFL Draft
Hagelin misses morning skate

By Jonathan Bombulie

Published: Saturday, April 29, 2017, 12:33 p.m.


WASHINGTON -- There's a bit of intrigue surrounding the Penguins lineup heading into Game 2 of an Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Washington Capitals on Saturday night.

After taking part in a full practice and working in with regular personnel groupings Friday afternoon, winger Carl Hagelin did not take morning skate Saturday.

Coach Mike Sullivan, however, said that didn't mean Hagelin wouldn't be in the lineup once the puck drops Saturday night.

“It doesn't mean anything,” Sullivan said, declining to tip his hand. “This morning was an optional skate, so everybody will be game-time decisions.”

Hagelin hasn't played since March 10 due to a lower-body injury.

Winger Patric Hornqvist and defenseman Brian Dumoulin and Trevor Daley, who sat out Friday's practice for maintenance, took part in morning skate and appear on track to play Saturday night.

The Capitals are expected to make a lineup change, with winger Paul Carey drawing in on the fourth line for Brett Connolly.

Carey, a fifth-year pro out of Boston College, played six games for the Capitals this season. He led the AHL's Hershey Bears with 24 goals in 55 games.

Connolly, who had 15 goals for the Capitals in the regular season, has no points in seven playoff games.

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jbombulie@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @BombulieTrib.


Gorman: For Penguins' Cole, win worth the bruise

By Kevin Gorman

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 8:03 p.m.


WASHINGTON

Believe it or not, Ian Cole swears he had only one bruise Friday, albeit a big one on the underside of his left forearm.

You would have expected Cole to be covered in black-and-blue marks after the Penguins defenseman blocked eight shots in the 3-2 victory over the Capitals in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal.

That it's as many as the Capitals had as a team is a point of pride for Cole.

“It's not like I'm looking to block shots,” Cole said. “It's something that happens out of desperation, when something breaks down.”

That's the Catch-22 for Cole. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan credits his players for buying into blocking shots and their willingness to sacrifice their bodies, yet he doesn't want them to be in position to have to rely upon that tactic too often in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

After jumping out to a 2-0 lead, the Penguins spent the second half of Game 1 in a defensive shell. Washington fired away, taking 83 shots. The Penguins blocked 29.

“Depending on how you look at statistics, attempts are an indication of territory, where the game is being played,” Sullivan said. “It doesn't always tell the true picture of the game itself, and the quality of chances or whatever it may be.

“When you look at it from that standpoint, we don't want to spend as much time in our end zone as we have. We think we're at our best when we control territory. We certainly don't want to be in a situation where we defend that much in a period.”

The Capitals spent most of the third period in the Penguins end, which forced the defensemen to put their bodies on the line by blocking shots.

It's become an art form for Cole, who set a team record for blocked shots this season with 194.

“He really puts 100 percent of his body into the game,” Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta said. “He plays with intensity. It's awesome to see him put his body on the line. It fires you up.”

Even so, Cole views blocking shots as a last resort and hopes to avoid taking them in soft spots, where there is no padding or muscle to absorb the impact of the puck.

“You try to take away the angle and close the space,” Cole said. “You try to stay square and keep your pads in front of you and, hopefully, it hits your pads. You try to stay tight. You don't want to have a lot of holes. You don't want to come out with your legs wide. I tend to go down on one knee. That's just how I do it.

“There's a high desperation level come playoffs, and everybody's doing it. You don't want to force it. You don't want to try to dive in front of every shot, but if the opportunity arises, you want to try get a shot block.”

Sullivan credited Cole for bringing a different dimension to the Penguins' defensive corps, calling him a “steady, solid player” who can play on the penalty kill.

“He's a brave kid. He gets in shot lanes. He plays the game hard, and that's what we really respect about him,” Sullivan said. “He's not flashy by any stretch. But it's the simplicity of his game, the competitiveness to his game, that we like most.”

Better yet, one of Cole's blocked shots led to the go-ahead goal. Cole blocked a Nicklas Backstrom shot and then sent a stretch pass to Scott Wilson, who fed Nick Bonino on a breakaway for the winner.

So, for Cole, the blocked shots and the accompanying bruises were well worth it.

“Getting the win,” he said, “makes it all feel better.”

Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at kgorman@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.


Gorman: For Penguins' Cole, win worth the bruise

By Kevin Gorman

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 8:03 p.m.


WASHINGTON

Believe it or not, Ian Cole swears he had only one bruise Friday, albeit a big one on the underside of his left forearm.

You would have expected Cole to be covered in black-and-blue marks after the Penguins defenseman blocked eight shots in the 3-2 victory over the Capitals in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal.

That it's as many as the Capitals had as a team is a point of pride for Cole.

“It's not like I'm looking to block shots,” Cole said. “It's something that happens out of desperation, when something breaks down.”

That's the Catch-22 for Cole. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan credits his players for buying into blocking shots and their willingness to sacrifice their bodies, yet he doesn't want them to be in position to have to rely upon that tactic too often in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

After jumping out to a 2-0 lead, the Penguins spent the second half of Game 1 in a defensive shell. Washington fired away, taking 83 shots. The Penguins blocked 29.

“Depending on how you look at statistics, attempts are an indication of territory, where the game is being played,” Sullivan said. “It doesn't always tell the true picture of the game itself, and the quality of chances or whatever it may be.

“When you look at it from that standpoint, we don't want to spend as much time in our end zone as we have. We think we're at our best when we control territory. We certainly don't want to be in a situation where we defend that much in a period.”

The Capitals spent most of the third period in the Penguins end, which forced the defensemen to put their bodies on the line by blocking shots.

It's become an art form for Cole, who set a team record for blocked shots this season with 194.

“He really puts 100 percent of his body into the game,” Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta said. “He plays with intensity. It's awesome to see him put his body on the line. It fires you up.”

Even so, Cole views blocking shots as a last resort and hopes to avoid taking them in soft spots, where there is no padding or muscle to absorb the impact of the puck.

“You try to take away the angle and close the space,” Cole said. “You try to stay square and keep your pads in front of you and, hopefully, it hits your pads. You try to stay tight. You don't want to have a lot of holes. You don't want to come out with your legs wide. I tend to go down on one knee. That's just how I do it.

“There's a high desperation level come playoffs, and everybody's doing it. You don't want to force it. You don't want to try to dive in front of every shot, but if the opportunity arises, you want to try get a shot block.”

Sullivan credited Cole for bringing a different dimension to the Penguins' defensive corps, calling him a “steady, solid player” who can play on the penalty kill.

“He's a brave kid. He gets in shot lanes. He plays the game hard, and that's what we really respect about him,” Sullivan said. “He's not flashy by any stretch. But it's the simplicity of his game, the competitiveness to his game, that we like most.”

Better yet, one of Cole's blocked shots led to the go-ahead goal. Cole blocked a Nicklas Backstrom shot and then sent a stretch pass to Scott Wilson, who fed Nick Bonino on a breakaway for the winner.

So, for Cole, the blocked shots and the accompanying bruises were well worth it.

“Getting the win,” he said, “makes it all feel better.”

Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at kgorman@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.


Steelers select USC wide receiver in second round
Steelers select QB Dobbs in fourth round

By Joe Rutter

Published: Saturday, April 29, 2017, 2:06 p.m.


The Steelers drafted a quarterback Saturday that is viewed as a part of their future, but not necessarily as THE quarterback of the future.

By selecting Tennessee's Joshua Dobbs in the fourth round, the Steelers added another arm to the group behind franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Whether Dobbs one day replaces Roethlisberger under center remains to be seen. Roethlisberger, 35, has three years remaining on his contract, yet is only three months removed from saying he is unsure of how much longer he wants to play.

Landry Jones, re-signed to a two-year contract in March, is the backup. Journeyman Zach Mettenberger also is on the roster, although he hasn't taken a snap with the Steelers.

“You're always trying to better yourself in the room regardless of what Ben is doing,” Steelers quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner said. “Just to throw that out there. Whether he plays five more years, six more years … that's irrelevant.

“It's a matter of strengthening the room and finding characteristics that he can bring to the Steelers that we value to make us better.”

At Tennessee, the 6-foot-3, 216-pound Dobbs was a multi-dimensional threat, passing for 2,946 yards and 27 touchdowns as a senior while also rushing for 831 yards and 12 touchdowns. It was Dobbs' presence at Tennessee that caused Volunteers quarterback Nathan Peterman to transfer to Pitt.

The Steelers brought him in for a predraft visit April 3, and he is the first quarterback drafted by the team since Jones – also a fourth-rounder – in 2013.

“I'm not trying to replace anyone,” Dobbs said on a conference call with reporters. “I'm trying to be the best Josh Dobbs I can be each and every day. Show up and work and learn as much as I can from a future Hall of Fame quarterback.”

Dobbs was selected with the No. 135 overall pick, the exact spot the Dallas Cowboys picked Dak Prescott last season. Prescott was selected to the Pro Bowl and named the NFL offensive rookie of the year.

Nobody is predicting such immediate success for Dobbs.

“First things first, let's make our room better in competition,” Fichtner said. “Let's soak up everything Ben has left in the tank, which he can sponge off and learn. Because the in-helmet perspective that Ben Roethlisberger has at the level he plays at is unbelievable.

“Every quarterback I've seen come through here has tried to sponge off that.”

Dobbs arguably is the smartest player in the draft. At Tennessee, his major was aerospace engineering, and he carried a business minor. In 2015, he interned at Pratt & Whitney, working in the F135 engine program for the U.S. Government.

Dobbs said his engineering work should not be viewed as overshadowing his desire to play football.

“I love the game of football. I've loved football since the age of the 5. My mom signed me upwhen we were running around in helmets bigger than your body. Football is all I know.

“Of course it's great to have a backup plan for 15 years down the road when I can't play football, but until that day I'm giving it all to the sport I love, and I'll definitely do that each and every day.”

Dobbs has issues with turnovers, especially fumbles, at Tennessee, but Fichtner said the Steelers' newest quarterback has the arm strength to compete in the NFL.

“It's very good, strong,” he said. “There aren't many throws that we would ask him to make that we haven't seen him do on tape.”

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jrutter@tribweb.com or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.


In Conner, Steelers Nation can trust

By Jerry DiPaola

Published: Saturday, April 29, 2017, 1:36 p.m.


Pitt's James Conner is a Pittsburgh Steeler. So we asked a Pittsburgher who knows a lot about the football programs that occupy the Rooney Sports Complex for his thoughts on the feel-great story of the 2017 NFL Draft.

James and the Steelers as only the Tribune-Review's Jerry DiPaola can tell it.

I'm sorry. I can't think of James Conner without seeing the sun set over Lake Erie.

People who live in or near Erie — and James proudly numbers himself among them — will tell you it's the most beautiful sight on earth.

Yeah, there's a story.

Before he came to Pitt and turned into an All-American running back as a sophomore and, Friday night, a Steeler, James was just another football player at Erie McDowell High School. Making friends, trying to make an impact, looking out for others.

His best friend and quarterback since sixth grade, Sean Gallagher, has a sister, Meghan, who five years ago was in a hospital room at UPMC Hamot, getting treatment for a kidney ailment. The room had no view of the lake.

James thought that was just plain wrong.

So, he picked Meghan out of her bed, cradled her in his massive arms, carried her out of the room and set her down in front of a window.

“The sunset relaxed her mind,” James told me.

That's part of what the Steelers are getting, and he couldn't have come around at a better time for a franchise recently beset by too much bad news, up to and including the death of Dan Rooney.

That's a part of this story, too.

James was in Dan's company many times at the South Side practice facility Pitt shares with the Steelers. But never as boss and employee. And were Dan alive, he and James still wouldn't have had the boss-employee relationship many people know in their companies.

Indeed, James and Dan would have shared a great, long-term relationship. Both men would have made sure of it.

Which brings me, finally, to the reason I'm writing these words the morning after James was drafted by the team that Dan helped build into the Super Bowl era's flagship football franchise.

These words are about James. They are also about the Steelers. I want everybody reading these words to realize what drafting James means for the Steelers.

James did beat cancer. He was an inspiration while battling the disease, and that fight reflected who he is and how he lives. But that fight was only a chapter of James' story.

Just. One. Chapter.

Through his wonderfully crafted Players Tribune essay, James spoke of the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a goal. He told me years ago, “The NFL is on my mind every day.”

Nice to hear from a college star, but James should know that much more relevant stuff needs to happen for him to run into the most famous building in Canton, Ohio.

The easy (if fortuitous) part was getting drafted by the Steelers on Friday night. It happened three picks from the end of the third round. The Steelers selected him with a pick provided by the NFL for former players who had left Pittsburgh as free agents.

If not for that bit of largesse by the league seeking to level the playing field, James would have been on a plane to somewhere else Saturday morning, not sitting across from coach Mike Tomlin, general manager Kevin Colbert and team president Art Rooney II. (James actually did have a 10 a.m. appointment at Steelers headquarters.)

With that appointment, James was in a spot similar to one by another college star upon whom the Steelers used a compensation pick at the end of a third-round. You might remember that guy.

He is Hines Ward. And without their drafting of Hines in 1998, the Steelers may not have written the great chapter that was their first decade of this century.

You might think James would sign in blood for a career similar to Hines' Hall-of-Fame caliber tenure.

Nope.

James will gladly work to make his own mark, thank you.

On the field, James will provide the Steelers a nice complement to Pro Bowl running back Le'Veon Bell, a way to extend that possible Hall-of-Fame career by having someone else share all those carries, absorb some of those hits. James won't make many long runs in the NFL, but he'll break the spirit of some defensive backs.

Duke's 180-pound cornerback Breon Borders found that out the hard way one day at Heinz Field. With one of the same arms that carried Meghan Gallagher toward that Lake Erie sunset, James viciously stiff-armed Breon out of bounds while trying to rally Pitt to a victory.

Through the years covering Pitt's football program, I enjoyed the one-on-one, sit-down interviews with James and grew to appreciate and understand why he addressed his elders as “Sir” and “Mister.” Not all of college athletes take that approach.

It's something called respect.

With James, as it was with Dan Rooney, respect is earned because it is first given.

James affords the game of football that respect, too. He prepares to play on so many levels, from practices on the field, video work with coaches, lifting weights, bonding with teammates, even walking around the offices clutching a jug of water so he'll be properly hydrated.

Unlike in college, Conner won't find many defensive backs reluctant to tackle him. I can tell him from having seen it with my own eyes, his own new teammates didn't shy from trying to tackle Jerome Bettis during his first training camp with the Steelers in 1996.

But when the collisions come for James this July, they won't be pretty. I hope James' new Steelers teammates heed my warning.

One final story.

During a spring practice session in 2014, former Pitt safety Terrish Webb, 80 pounds lighter than James, rushed up to try to tackling him. The noise of the crash drowned out any words that could be overheard, but I have always presumed Terrish said more than “Ouch.”

Later, Pitt's running backs coach at the time, John Settle, told James, “Kids shouldn't play in traffic.”

“It was an accident,” James said, sheepishly.

Not it wasn't, James.

Nothing you do is accidental.


Former Pitt quarterback Peterman drafted to Bills in the fifth round

By Jerry DiPaola

Published: Saturday, April 29, 2017, 1:00 p.m.


At the end of the college football season, former Pitt quarterback Nathan Peterman put his head down and went to work preparing for the NFL Draft. He was so focused on the process, he didn't even bother to read the considerable number of press clippings about his pro prospects.

He finally looked up Saturday and saw he was drafted in the fifth round (171 overall) by the Buffalo Bills. Peterman is the 10th quarterback drafted by the Bills since the retirement of Jim Kelly; none have gone to the Pro Bowl.

Peterman will compete with Bills starter Tyrod Taylor, who is signed for only the next two seasons.

Former Pitt guard Dorian Johnson's journey to the NFL ended when he was drafted in the fourth round (No. 115 overall) by the Arizona Cardinals. Montae Nicholson, a former three-sport standout at Gateway High School, was chosen in the fourth round by the Washington Redskins. Nicholson was drafted No. 123 overall.

Peterman was the eighth quarterback selected after North Carolina's Mitchell Trubisky, Texas Tech's Patrick Mahomes, Clemson's Deshaun Watson, Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer, California's Davis Webb, Iowa's C.J. Beathard and Tennessee Joshua Dobbs. Peterman transferred to Pitt after losing the starting job at Tennessee to Dobbs.

During taping of ESPN's “Gruden QB Camp” earlier this month, Super Bowl-winning coach Jon Gruden said Peterman was “about as NFL-ready as any quarterback we've had come through here (in eight years).

“Your ability in the pocket, I hate to say it, but it's professional.”

Peterman is the first Pitt quarterback drafted before the fourth round since Dan Marino, a first-round pick in 1983.

When Peterman transferred to Pitt from Tennessee in 2015, he wasn't the favorite to become the starter that season. But he started the third game against Iowa, and all 24 after that.

His best game was in one of the most difficult venues in college football -- Clemson's Death Valley.

But Peterman threw five touchdown passes while leading Pitt to a 43-42 victory against eventual national champion Clemson.

In two seasons at Pitt, he completed 378 of 620 pass attempts for 5,142 yards, 47 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.

“I think Buffalo got an incredible steal in Nathan,” Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said in a statement. “He's a highly intelligent player and leader. There's a reason he was the ACC's passing efficiency leader as a senior (163.37). Nathan will be a great asset on and off the field for the Bills.”

For Johnson, it all started in February 2013, when Pitt's first five-star offensive lineman signed a letter of intent in a small conference room at Belle Vernon High School. No fanfare, only his Aunt Erica's camera to chronicle the moment.

Four years later, he is the first Belle Vernon graduate drafted into the NFL since Penn State offensive lineman Bill Contz went to the Cleveland Browns in the fifth round in 1983.

“Dorian was a huge part of our record-setting offense,” Narduzzi said on Twitter. “He is a great player who was incredibly durable and dependable during his career. The Cardinals are getting a very mature person who won't be outworked. We are thrilled he will join a fellow Panther in Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona.”

Johnson became the first freshman to start on Pitt's offensive line in seven years on Nov. 2, 2013, against Georgia Tech. He struggled that night against pass rusher Jeremiah Attaochu, now a four-year veteran with the Los Angeles Chargers.

But Johnson was playing out of position -- left tackle -- to help a Pitt line beset by injuries. Adversity eventually helped make him stronger and he didn't miss a start at left guard over 39 consecutive games during the next three seasons. Two Pitt coaching staffs discovered they couldn't do without him. Johnson, 22, never redshirted.

Last season, he became one of the most highly decorated offensive linemen in Pitt history, ascending to first-team All-American status as selected by the American Football Coaches Association, ESPN.com, SI.com and Sporting News.

He was named second or third team by four others, and was All-ACC for the second consecutive season. He was a first-team selection after he named to the second team as a junior.

The WPIAL has another NFL-bound safety.

Nicholson, a 6-foot-2, 220-pounder, earned All-Big 10 honorable mention honors last season as a junior at Michigan State. He was second on the team with 86 tackles. Nicholson played 38 games and started 23 in his three seasons with the Spartans. He had 200 career tackles, four interceptions and three fumble recoveries.

A standout hurdler in high school, Nicholson ran the 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds at the NFL combine. He was the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review male high school athlete of the year in 2014.

New Castle native Malik Hooker, an Ohio State safety, was drafted in the first round Thursday by the Indianapolis Colts.

West Virginia's big-play wide receiver Shelton Gibson, 5-foot-11, 191 pounds, was drafted in the fifth round by the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday.

Gibson, the 166th player selected overall, averaged 22.8 yards per catch the past two seasons. He recorded 80 receptions in that time for 1,838 yards and 17 touchdowns -- 36 percent of his catches gained 25 yards or more.

The New York Giants drafted Youngstown State defensive end Avery Moss one pick after Gibson. Moss transferred from Nebraska after he pleaded no contest to a charge of public indecency in 2012.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.


Gorman's take 5: Day Two of NFL Draft
Steelers select Pitt RB Conner in 3rd round of NFL Draft

By Jerry DiPaola

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 11:52 p.m.


James Conner's story tugs at the listener's emotions, even leads to tears.

The Steelers didn't care about any of that. They drafted Conner in the third round Friday night to play football and, perhaps, add another dimension to their running game.

“This is not a story about sentiment,” running backs coach James Saxon said of the first Pitt player drafted by the Steelers since Hank Poteat in 2000. “This is a story about a young man that is a very good football player. I hope the guys we play against are sentimental because he's going to share with them some sentimental, physical things.”

Diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in November of 2015, Conner played football in 2016 only four months after finishing the last of 12 chemotherapy treatments and being declared cancer-free.

“It's a dream come true,” Conner said on a conference call with reporters from Erie, his hometown. “I'm forever grateful for them for giving me the opportunity after everything I've been through.

“I know a lot of teams were scared, but they gave me the opportunity of a lifetime, and they are going to get a great person and a great football player, and I'll give it my all for them.”

Conner sat with family and friends for nearly two rounds before hearing his name.

“I was getting a little antsy and a little worried because I know my talent level,” he said. “I saw some other running backs go before me. I'm different, and I know what my talent is.”

He said he sensed some teams were hesitant to draft him based on his recent past.

“That's just what I thought,” he said. “Me personally, I believe that what I put on tape is right up there with the best of the best.”

An All-American and ACC Player of the Year in 2014 and All-ACC last season, he finished second all-time at Pitt in rushing (3,733 yards), touchdowns (56) and rushing touchdowns (52) despite missing most of the 2015 season with a knee injury. The only Pitt back he didn't pass on those lists was Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett.

Even all of that didn't mean much to Saxon.

“James is a great guy, and what he does as a football player is what we want,” he said. “The fun thing about being around this young man is you know what you're going to get. You're going to get hard work, a guy that is committed to want to learn and get better every day. He's a guy who is going to want to come in here and learn every day.

“He's accountable. He's done everything he's been asked to do.”

The Steelers believe he can be a complement to Pro Bowl running back Le'Veon Bell.

“Different kind of guy,” Saxon said. “Smart football player, tough, physical. The guy has got great stature, something that is going to pay dividends as we go down the road.

“He runs the football downhill.”

Conner, 6-foot-1, 233 pounds, was drafted with the 105th overall pick, a compensatory choice awarded to the Steelers by the NFL for losing free agents.

When he reports to rookie minicamp next month, he will have a chance to win the No. 1 backup job to Bell on what appears to be a thin depth chart at running back.

“Obviously, Le'Veon Bell is the primary running back,” Conner said. “He's one of my guys and good friends. He's put the work in and proven it. He earned (the right) to do what he does best. Whenever I come into the game, whether it is special teams or anything, I'm going to make sure to give it my all and help the team anywhere they need me.”

Conner only must move next door at Pitt's South Side practice facility he has shared with the Steelers since enrolling in 2013.

When coach Mike Tomlin called him Friday, he said, “Get in the car and drive down. We're not going to reimburse you for your gas miles.”

Conner said one of the first calls he received was from Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi.

“He just told me congratulations. I have to call him back,” he said. “I know he's incredibly proud of me. I'll have a long talk with him.”

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.


Steelers address secondary in third round, draft Tennessee CB

By Joe Rutter

Published: Saturday, April 29, 2017, 12:18 a.m.


The Steelers addressed their desire to add competition at cornerback Friday in the third round of the NFL Draft, taking Tennessee's Cameron Sutton with the No. 94 overall pick.

Sutton was the first of two picks in the third round for the Steelers.

Sutton, a 5-foot-11, 188-pounder who also can return punts, was a four-year starter at Tennessee. Steelers defensive backs coach Carnell Lake said Sutton was attractive because of his ability to play press coverage.

The Steelers struggled in press coverage during the AFC championship game loss to New England.

“Our focus is to be more versatile as a defense,” Lake said. “We'll install more man this year. I believe he will help us in that area.”

Said Sutton: “I'm very comfortable doing that. I did that every play in college.”

As a senior, Sutton fractured an ankle in a nonconference game against Ohio as a senior and missed about half the season.

In seven games, Sutton had 23 tackles, one interception and four pass breakups. He said he didn't feel 100 percent healthy until the Senior Bowl in late January.

Lake said Sutton also could help the Steelers inside in the nickel package.

“He's done both, but we'll look to see what he can do when he gets here,” Lake said. “The more versatile he is, the quicker he can get on the field.”

Veteran Ross Cockrell and 2016 first-round pick Artie Burns finished last season as starters, with William Gay in the slot. Gay, however, struggled in the Patriots' loss, and Cockrell received only a fourth-round tender, an indication the Steelers don't view him as a long-term solution.

The Steelers also signed free agent Coty Sensabaugh and have former second-round pick Senquez Golson trying to shake off two seasons lost to injury.

“Competition brings out the best in every player,” Lake said.

Sutton returned two punts for touchdowns as a junior, and he also had one interception and six pass breakups. He led Tennessee with 16 passes defensed as a sophomore that included three interceptions. He also had a punt return for a touchdown that season.

Sutton met with the Steelers before his pro day at Tennessee and said his availability on special teams was discussed.

“That's going to be a big part of it,” he said. “Hopefully, I can do that as well.”

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jrutter@tribweb.com or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.


Steelers draft profiles: Southern Cal's Smith-Schuster, Tennessee's Sutton, Pitt's Conner

By Chris Harlan

Published: Saturday, April 29, 2017, 12:36 a.m.


Player: JuJu Smith-Schuster

Position: wide receiver

College: Southern Cal

Height: 6-1

Weight: 215

Pros: Smith-Schuster is valued as a physical receiver with strong hands, and should be expected to make catches in traffic. He's drawn comparisons to NFL veteran Anquan Boldin, a wideout Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley coached in Arizona.

Cons: Smith-Schuster doesn't have elite speed; he ran a 4.54-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.

Good fit for Steelers?: Ben Roethlisberger prefers to throw to tall receivers, and at 6-foot-1, Smith-Schuster should fit expectation. However, his arrival adds another player to what already is a crowded position. He could battle for playing time with Martavis Bryant, Sammie Coates, Justin Hunter, Eli Rogers, Cobi Hamilton and Darrius Heyward-Bey.

College highlights: A three-year starter who made 39 starts, Smith-Schuster had 213 catches for 3,092 yards and 25 touchdowns. He was named first-team All-Pac 12 as a sophomore and led the conference with 1,454 receiving yards that season. He led the Trojans with 89 receptions and 10 touchdown catches that season.

Player: Cameron Sutton

Position: cornerback

College: Tennessee

Height: 5-11

Weight: 188

Pros: Sutton was a four-year starter at Tennessee with notable man-coverage skills. He made 45 starts and set a school record with 37 pass defenses. His career stats also include seven interceptions and 127 tackles. He also was a standout punt returner for the Volunteers; he returned 45 punts for 657 yards and three touchdowns.

Cons: Analysts labeled Sutton as “passive” in press coverage, and said he wasn't considered a physical tackler who'll contribute to run stopping. As a senior, Sutton sustained a fractured ankle and missed almost half of the season.

Good fit for Steelers?: Defensive backs coach Carnell Lake said the Steelers valued Sutton's man-coverage skills, a technique the team may feature more.

College highlights: Sutton joined Tennessee's starting lineup as a true freshman, led the team with nine pass breakups and returned an interception for a touchdown. He led the nation in punt return average (18.7) as a junior, when he returned 25 punts for a school-record 467 yards and two touchdowns. He had an 84-yard punt-return touchdown that season and a 76-yard punt return score as a sophomore.

Player: James Conner

Position: running back

College: Pitt

Height: 6-1

Weight: 233

Pros: Conner's battle with Hodgkin's lymphoma cast a national spotlight on the Erie native. Draft analysts praised his resilience, mental toughness and leadership skills. However, before his cancer diagnosis, Conner earned ACC Player of the Year honors when he had 1,765 yards and 26 touchdowns as a sophomore. Conner returned as a senior and rushed for 1,092 yards and 16 touchdowns on 216 carries, earning first-team All-ACC honors. He's a physical runner who's tough to arm tackle.

Cons: Conner isn't a cut-back runner who'll make tacklers miss. At the NFL combine, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds. His health concerns (season-ending torn MCL in 2015 included) likely hurt his draft stock with some NFL teams.

Good fit for Steelers?: Conner's aggressive running style could pair well with Le'Veon Bell's patience and finesse. DeAngelo Williams is a free agent, so the Steelers were in the market for another running back. The other roster options are Knile Davis and Fitzgerald Toussaint.

College highlights: Conner finished second to Tony Dorsett on Pitt's all-time lists for rushing yards (3,733), total touchdowns (56) and rushing touchdowns (52).


Steelers' top pick T.J. Watt overcomes injuries to follow brothers to NFL
Tampa Bay grabs Penn State WR Godwin in third round

By Jerry DiPaola

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 11:06 p.m.


Penn State wide receiver Chris Godwin, whose breakout performance against USC in the Rose Bowl launched him up many teams' draft boards, was selected in the third round (No. 84) Friday night by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

After declaring early for the draft after three seasons at Penn State, Godwin was the 11th wide receiver drafted.

The Delaware player of the year in high school, Godwin contributed immediately in college, catching 25 passes for 321 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman. He followed that up with 69 receptions for 1,101 yards and five touchdowns while earning third-team All-Big Ten honors in 2015.

He topped off his final season with nine receptions for 187 yards and two touchdowns in the Rose Bowl. For the season, he recorded 11 touchdown receptions among 59 catches for 982 yards and was named honorable mention All-Big Ten.

Godwin, 6-foot-1, 209 pounds, is part of the Buccaneers' plan to add weapons for young quarterback Jameis Winston. The Bucs drafted Alabama tight end O.J. Howard in the first round.

One pick before Godwin was selected, the New England Patriots chose Youngstown State outside linebacker Derek Rivers. He was a first-team All-Missouri Valley pick the past three years while recording 38 12 career sacks.

Cornerback Rasul Douglas was the first West Virginia player selected, going in the third round (99th overall) to the Philadelphia Eagles.Douglas, 6-2, 209, was a junior college All-American at Nassau (N.Y.) Community College in 2014 before transferring to West Virginia, choosing the Mountaineers over offers from Louisville and Florida State.

He was named first-team All-Big 12 last season, recording eight interceptions, eight pass breakups and 70 tackles (3 12 for a loss).


Gorman's 5 thoughts on Steelers' first-round pick T.J. Watt

By Kevin Gorman

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 11:00 a.m.


1. Drafting for need?

After a season in which the Steelers played little brother to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship, they drafted the younger brother of one of the NFL's best players.

The immediate reaction to their selection of T.J. Watt with the 30th pick of the NFL Draft Thursday night is that the Wisconsin outside linebacker fits the profile of pass rusher they so desperately need.

That's my concern, that the Steelers drafted for need instead of taking the best player available. Some scouts gave Watt, a converted tight end, a second-round grade.

Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert considered Watt a first-rounder, however, and he joins Jarvis Jones (2013), Ryan Shazier (2014) and Bud Dupree (2015) to become the fourth linebacker they drafted in the first round in the past five years.

Then again, the Steelers had the 30th pick and watched players they supposedly coveted, like Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey, Missouri outside linebacker Charles Harris, Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers, UCLA defensive end Takk McKinley and Miami tight end David Njoku drafted before them.

Watt only needs to be an upgrade over Jones, the bust he's replacing.

2. It's in the family

As far as little brothers go, J.J. Watt said his brother is “further along than I was.”

Consider that the Texans star defensive end is a four-time, first-team All-Pro and three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and that's quite the compliment.

Even better are T.J. Watt's NFL Scouting Combine statistics. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.69 seconds, his 20-yard shuttle of 4.13 seconds was fastest among linebackers, ranked in the top 10 of all players and the top 10 of all linebackers the past five years. T.J. matched J.J.'s 37-inch vertical leap, bettered his broad jump (10-8 to 10-0) and had similar hand and arm measurements.

Difference is, J.J. Watt weighed 292 pounds to T.J.'s 252, and bench-pressed 225 pounds for 34 repetitions to T.J.'s 21.

But if J.J. Watt is proof of his brother's untapped potential, consider that he had 11.5 sacks in two seasons at Wisconsin and has 76 in six NFL seasons.

T.J. Watt had 11.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss in his lone season as a defensive starter for the Badgers.

Then again, Jones had 45.5 TFL and 28 sacks in two seasons at Georgia. If you want to compare T.J. Watt and Jones, look at their bench press (Watt 21, Jones 20) and 40 times (Watt 4.69, Jones 4.92). The knock on Jones with the Steelers was more his strength than speed.

3. Passing on Foster

What had me scratching my head was the player the Steelers passed on to take Watt.

San Francisco traded a fourth-rounder to Seattle move into the 31st pick so it could select Alabama inside linebacker Reuben Foster.

Afterward, 49ers general manager John Lynch said that he got two of the top three players on his board in No. 3 overall pick Soloman Thomas, the defensive end from Stanford, and Foster.

That's how highly Foster was regarded. Of course, he hurt his draft stock by testing positive for a diluted sample at the combine and getting involved in an argument with a hospital worker at his medical check.

The Steelers have a pressing need at inside linebacker after allowing Lawrence Timmons to sign with Miami and whiffing on free agent Dont'a Hightower.

Character matters more than ever with the Steelers, especially after losing Martavis Bryant to a season-long suspension and Le'Veon Bell to a three-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy.

That made Watt a safe pick for the Steelers. We'll find out whether it's a smart one.

4. Running the North

The Steelers watched their AFC North Division rivals improve in important ways.

The Browns had three first-round picks, taking Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett first overall and adding the versatile Peppers at safety and Njoku at tight end.

Still, it's hard to believe the Browns passed on quarterbacks Mitch Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson when they return only Brock Osweiler and Cody Keller at the position.

The Bengals drafted wide receiver John Ross of Washington, who recorded the fastest 40 time in combine history, at 4.22 seconds. He joins a receiving corps that features A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd.

And the Ravens chose the cornerback Humphrey, adding to a secondary that signed safety Tony Jefferson and cornerback Brandon Carr in the off-season.

Which brings us to...

5. Steelers next picks?

The Steelers still have some holes to fill, and they have the 30th pick of the second round (62nd overall) and the 30th and 41st of the third round (94th and 105th overall) to address them.

Primary positions to address should be cornerback, tight end, safety, running back and defensive end.

Here are the question marks: The Steelers watched Will Gay lose a step but don't know if Senquez Golson, after missing two seasons with injury, can finally contribute as a slot corner.

Ladarius Green's status remains unclear, but the Steelers don't seem comfortable with Jesse James as the starter at tight end.

DeAngelo Williams likely won't be back, so there is a need for a backup to Bell at tailback.

The starters at safety should be Mike Mitchell and Sean Davis but their backups are an issue.

And when Cam Heyward went down with a midseason injury, it exposed the Steelers' lack of depth at defensive end.

But they got the pass rusher they wanted in Watt, and that's a strong start.

Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at kgorman@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.


NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says marijuana is addictive and unhealthy for players

By Ben Schmitt

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 11:42 a.m.


A week after a medical marijuana conference brought former football players to Pittsburgh to advocate the benefits of cannabis use in controlling pain, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell proclaimed on a sports talk show that the drug is addictive and unhealthy for players.

“It does have an addictive nature,” Goodell said Friday on the ESPN show “Mike & Mike.” “There are a lot of compounds in marijuana that may not be healthy for the players long term. All of those things have to be considered. And it's not as simple as someone just wants to feel better after a game. We really want to help our players in that circumstance, but I want to make sure that the negative consequences aren't something that is something that we'll be held accountable for some years down the road.”

Last weekend's World Medical Cannabis Conference and Expo at Downtown's David L. Lawrence Convention Center brought the likes of former Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL running back Ricky Williams to push pro-pot agendas.

While NFL players are allowed to take heavy prescription drugs, such as opioids, for pain, marijuana remains a banned substance.

“If you get in the drug program and you get in trouble, it's so punitive,” Williams told the Tribune-Review while discussing NFL drug policies. “Players aren't getting help. They are only getting punished for something that I think we can at least make the argument is probably healthier than opioids and prescription drugs that players are taking.”

Whether marijuana is addictive has been debated among experts and users for decades.

Goodell acknowledged Friday that medical marijuana use is on the rise.

“We look at it from a medical standpoint,” Goodell said. “So if people feel that it has a medical benefit, the medical advisers have to tell you that. We have joint advisers, we also have independent advisers, both the (NFL Players Association) and the NFL, and we'll sit down and talk about that. But we've been studying that through our advisers. To date, they haven't said this is a change we think you should make that's in the best interests of the health and safety of our players. If they do, we're certainly going to consider that. But to date, they haven't really said that.”

Dr. Bryan Doner, a co-founder of the medical marijuana consulting company Compassionate Certification Centers, helped organize last week's conference in Pittsburgh. He said he found some of Goodell's remarks hypocritical.

“We know for a fact that some of the current treatments used in treating NFL and other athletes, such as opiates and (anti-inflammatory drugs), can absolutely have undeniable and devastating long-term consequences,” Doner said. “At our recent convention, we had a number of former NFL athletes state this in no uncertain terms. If the treatment options the NFL is currently using and endorsing have known, well-documented, long-term negative consequences, is it fair or appropriate to leave those unaddressed while applying this to medical cannabis? The answer to me seems to be a very clear no, and in fact hypocritical.”

Medical marijuana in Pennsylvania is now legal and will be available in 2018 in pills, oils, tinctures or ointments.

Under state law, patients — after consulting with doctors — can apply for a state-issued medical marijuana card if a doctor certifies that they have one of 17 qualified medical conditions, including epilepsy, cancer, multiple sclerosis and seizure disorders.

Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991, bschmitt@tribweb.com or via Twitter @bencschmitt.


Steelers take Wisconsin LB Watt with first-round pick in draft
Steelers draft profile: Wisconsin outside linebacker T.J. Watt

By Chris Adamski

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 11:54 p.m.


Player: T.J. Watt

Position: Outside linebacker

College: Wisconsin

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 252

Pros: In his only full college season as a starter and at the position, he was highly productive in getting at the opposing quarterbacks. … Bloodlines suggest he should be good — if he even approaches the career of big brother J.J. (a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year), the Steelers will he highly pleased. … His height adds to the 6-foot-4 Bud Dupree taken in the first round two years prior, giving the Steelers bookend edge rushers with length (Watt's arm length was measured at 33 18 inches). … Considered cerebral and with good technique and fundamentals, despite playing three positions in college before settling in on the edge on defense.

Cons: Only one year as a starter in college, and a history that suggests he could be injury-prone (including three knee surgeries). … Watt is not considered fast nor overly athletic when compared to his pass-rushing peers in this draft. … His skills in pass coverage are, at best, unproven.

Good fit for Steelers?: Arguably, there is no more glamour position in Steelers' lore than the outside linebackers. And with one of this season's projected starters at the position 39 years old (James Harrison) it was obvious reinforcements were needed. With still being relatively new to the position, Watt in theory has room to grow. If he pans out, a Watt-Dupree duo could terrorize opposing quarterbacks for years to come.

College highlights: Had 11½ sacks, 15½ tackles for loss last season in being named all-Big Ten and second-team AP All-American. His career before that was redshirting as a tight end in 2013, being injured (knee) in '14 and serving as a backup linebacker in '15. But in 2016, he started all 14 games and accumulated 63 tackles.


Indianapolis Colts select New Castle's Hooker

By Jerry DiPaola

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 10:03 p.m.


Malik Hooker could have bathed in ESPN's bright lights in Philadelphia on Thursday night when the Indianapolis Colts picked him 15th overall in the first round of the NFL Draft.

Instead, he was seated among family and friends at the Villa Banquet Center on New Butler Road in New Castle, his hometown. He had an official invitation from the NFL for its draft-night festivities, but he chose to stay home.

“That's his personality,” New Castle basketball coach Ralph Blundo said. “He doesn't need the limelight to feel good.”

“He wanted to be around friends and family,” said his mother Angela, who was in Philadelphia this week for a mother-son spa day, courtesy of the NFL.

Hooker is the first New Castle graduate to be drafted since Penn State defensive end Bruce Clark went to the Green Bay Packers fourth overall in 1980.

Hooker started at safety for Ohio State for only one season (2016). At New Castle, he skipped football as a freshman and sophomore before coach Joe Cowart was hired before Hooker's junior season.

Cowart started recruiting Hooker immediately.

“You put all the recruiters in the hallways you can get,” Cowart said. “Every assistant coach, every teacher, everyone of his buddies, you say, ‘Get in his ear and tell him he has to come out for football.' I had him in class. I wore him out every day.”

Despite his relative inexperience, he will bring unusual athleticism to the Colts, Buckeyes associate head coach/defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said.

“He's a rare talent,” Schiano said. “I had the opportunity to coach (former Baltimore Ravens safety) Ed Reed (at the University of Miami), and he's the only other guy who I've ever been around that has that kind of range. Malik can cover a great deal of distance and has great anticipation. He'll be a great NFL safety.”

Hooker was credited with seven interceptions last season, three that he returned for real touchdowns. Schiano insists Hooker scored four times.

“One got called back (by a penalty),” he said.

Hooker was named a first-team All-American by nine organizations, including the American Football Coaches Association, Associated Press, Football Writers Association of America and Walter Camp.

Three days ago, he signed with Jordan Brand to help promote Michael Jordan's line of sports gear and apparel.

Which is only natural considering his basketball background.

“Football is my future and entrenched in my heart,” he said, “but as a child I always had basketball on my mind. Growing up as a two-sport athlete, I wanted to be like Mike.”

Blundo said Hooker “definitely” could have played basketball at a mid-major college level if he had pursued it. New Castle was 87-2 and won three WPIAL championships and one PIAA title while Hooker was on the team.

“He was a freakish athlete,” he said. “Very, very intelligent on the floor. Malik was the best player on the floor, night-in and night-out. It didn't matter if we were playing (Pennsylvania power) Lower Merion or teams from Philadelphia. He always played his best games against the best teams and best players.

“He chose football because that was where his upside was in terms of his career after college.”

Asked about the night Hooker scored 36 points against Pine-Richland, Blundo said, “He had plenty of games like that.”

Seneca Valley coach Victor Giannotta, whose team played several games against New Castle, appreciated something else about Hooker.

“He played hard and tough and never talked trash,” he said.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.


Sheary trying to shake off playoff slump

By Jonathan Bombulie

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 6:54 p.m.


WASHINGTON — Two weeks ago, Conor Sheary was the poster child for everything that's right about Penguins hockey.

In Game 2 of a first-round series with Columbus, he flew in on the forecheck, harassed goalie Sergei Bobrovsky into a turnover and helped set up Jake Guentzel for an important goal.

It set the tone for the series.

Columbus has big, mean forwards who like to punish opponents on the forecheck. They might even gain a possession advantage because of their bulk. But the Penguins would fly in undetected, steal the bully's lunch money and make him cry.

It was an approach that carried the Penguins to a Stanley Cup 11 months prior, and it was working again.

Two weeks is an eternity on the playoff hockey calendar, however, and as the Penguins get ready for Game 2 of a second-round series with Washington on Saturday night, Sheary is in a much different place.

His assist on Guentzel's goal was one of only two points he has recorded in six playoff games. He has yet to score a goal.

When he has been on the ice at even strength in the postseason, the Penguins have been outshot 70-46 and outscored 8-4.

In other words, Sheary is in a slump, and it's a good one.

“If you're out there for a couple goals against, it might hurt you, especially confidence-wise,” Sheary said. “If you're giving up goals and not scoring any, it doesn't look good on your part.”

At the end of the Columbus series, coach Mike Sullivan dropped Sheary from the team's top line, inserting Patric Hornqvist in his place. At the time, Sullivan was able to soft-pedal the move.

Just want to get a different look on Sidney Crosby's wing. Sheary isn't scoring, but he's still playing well away from the puck. Nothing to see here.

But in Game 1 against Washington on Thursday night, the Capitals outshot the Penguins, 10-0, when Sheary was on the ice at even strength. When Evgeny Kuznetsov scored the tying goal on a wide-open shot from the left faceoff circle in the third period, Sheary was the closest defender to him.

Sullivan now has to acknowledge the obvious.

“Certainly, we know Conor has a much better game, and that's what we're trying to help him get to,” Sullivan said. “He's had a great year for us. He's played so much great hockey. He's scored big goals, and he's a competitive kid. It's our responsibility as his coaches to try to help him get to his game, and that's what we're trying to do. The last couple (games) I don't think have been his best.”

Sheary said he had a couple of nagging injuries that were giving him problems at the end of the regular season, but they're no longer an issue. Now, what he has to do is put into action his plan for getting back on track.

First, don't dwell.

“Everybody gets there. I've been there a lot this year,” said winger Scott Wilson, a close friend of Sheary. “I know some teams have guys that kind of shake the locker room when they're not doing well or not getting bounces. Shears has done a good job of just saying positive. He'll come out of it soon.”

Second, remember his core competencies.

“For the most part, I'm trying to stick to my things: speed and instincts and elusiveness and quickness,” Sheary said. “I'm trying to get back to that as much as I can and play in the offensive zone.”

Finally, look to past successes as a model for future gains.

After all, the good, old days were only two weeks ago.

“It is only a six-game slump. It's not forever,” Sheary said. “But I would like to dig myself out of it.”

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jbombulie@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @BombulieTrib.


Hagelin misses morning skate
Gorman: For Penguins' Cole, win worth the bruise

By Kevin Gorman

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 8:03 p.m.


WASHINGTON

Believe it or not, Ian Cole swears he had only one bruise Friday, albeit a big one on the underside of his left forearm.

You would have expected Cole to be covered in black-and-blue marks after the Penguins defenseman blocked eight shots in the 3-2 victory over the Capitals in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal.

That it's as many as the Capitals had as a team is a point of pride for Cole.

“It's not like I'm looking to block shots,” Cole said. “It's something that happens out of desperation, when something breaks down.”

That's the Catch-22 for Cole. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan credits his players for buying into blocking shots and their willingness to sacrifice their bodies, yet he doesn't want them to be in position to have to rely upon that tactic too often in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

After jumping out to a 2-0 lead, the Penguins spent the second half of Game 1 in a defensive shell. Washington fired away, taking 83 shots. The Penguins blocked 29.

“Depending on how you look at statistics, attempts are an indication of territory, where the game is being played,” Sullivan said. “It doesn't always tell the true picture of the game itself, and the quality of chances or whatever it may be.

“When you look at it from that standpoint, we don't want to spend as much time in our end zone as we have. We think we're at our best when we control territory. We certainly don't want to be in a situation where we defend that much in a period.”

The Capitals spent most of the third period in the Penguins end, which forced the defensemen to put their bodies on the line by blocking shots.

It's become an art form for Cole, who set a team record for blocked shots this season with 194.

“He really puts 100 percent of his body into the game,” Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta said. “He plays with intensity. It's awesome to see him put his body on the line. It fires you up.”

Even so, Cole views blocking shots as a last resort and hopes to avoid taking them in soft spots, where there is no padding or muscle to absorb the impact of the puck.

“You try to take away the angle and close the space,” Cole said. “You try to stay square and keep your pads in front of you and, hopefully, it hits your pads. You try to stay tight. You don't want to have a lot of holes. You don't want to come out with your legs wide. I tend to go down on one knee. That's just how I do it.

“There's a high desperation level come playoffs, and everybody's doing it. You don't want to force it. You don't want to try to dive in front of every shot, but if the opportunity arises, you want to try get a shot block.”

Sullivan credited Cole for bringing a different dimension to the Penguins' defensive corps, calling him a “steady, solid player” who can play on the penalty kill.

“He's a brave kid. He gets in shot lanes. He plays the game hard, and that's what we really respect about him,” Sullivan said. “He's not flashy by any stretch. But it's the simplicity of his game, the competitiveness to his game, that we like most.”

Better yet, one of Cole's blocked shots led to the go-ahead goal. Cole blocked a Nicklas Backstrom shot and then sent a stretch pass to Scott Wilson, who fed Nick Bonino on a breakaway for the winner.

So, for Cole, the blocked shots and the accompanying bruises were well worth it.

“Getting the win,” he said, “makes it all feel better.”

Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at kgorman@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.


Penguins notebook: Lineup decisions near as Hagelin closes in on return

By Jonathan Bombulie

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 3:12 p.m.


WASHINGTON — Carl Hagelin took a significant step forward in the laborious process of returning to the Penguins lineup Friday morning, taking part in a full-contact practice and working with regular personnel groups.

Hagelin, who has been out since March 10 with a lower-body injury, skated in drills on a line with center Evgeni Malkin and right wing Phil Kessel and took his place among the penalty killers during special teams work.

Coach Mike Sullivan said Hagelin will be a game-time decision when the Penguins take on the Washington Capitals in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series Saturday night.

Sullivan also said Hagelin is the type of player who could make a significant impact on a series upon his return.

“His skill sets certainly lend to the type of game we're trying to play,” he said. “Regardless of what line you put him on, he brings that element of speed, his ability to stretch the ice. His pursuit game forces turnovers all the time, and we create a lot of offense off if it.”

Hagelin stopped short of declaring himself ready to go for Game 2, saying it was a day-to-day process. He did have an idea of how he plans to play once he is given the green light.

“Simple. Make all the simple plays,” Hagelin said. “Get pucks deep and try to use my speed. Timing and stuff is going to be hard, but I think, for me, once I get back out there, I want to use my speed and try to play smart.”

If Hagelin returns, Sullivan will have to pick a winger to scratch in his place. Tom Kuhnhackl is the most likely candidate. Scott Wilson or the slumping Conor Sheary would be other options.

“We feel like we have depth to our organization,” Sullivan said. “These are difficult decisions we have to make, but they're good decisions. The healthier we get, the more difficult those decisions become.”

Maintenance men

Winger Patric Hornqvist and defenseman Brian Dumoulin and Trevor Daley did not practice Friday, taking the day off for maintenance, Sullivan said.

Daley is coming off knee surgery and regularly has skipped optional skates so far this postseason. Hornqvist has been packed in ice after games, so he likely is dealing with a variety of bumps and bruises.

Dumoulin's status, however, might be a little murkier. He didn't take a shift in the final two minutes of Game 2, and the NBC Sports broadcast said he headed to the locker room early.

Lining up

If Hagelin and Hornqvist play Saturday night, the Penguins will have to make some alterations to their line combinations. Most notably, they'll have to find a spot for winger Bryan Rust.

If Hagelin plays with Malkin and Kessel, Rust would be displaced from his regular spot. He skated on the top line with Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby at Friday's practice, but there was a vacancy on that line only because of Hornqvist's absence.

Solid return

Playing his first game since March 31 because of a lower-body injury, veteran winger Chris Kunitz made a solid return to the lineup in Game 1.

Playing about 13 minutes on the fourth line, he led the team with four hits and was tied for second with three shots on goal.

“What he brings to this team is his energy, his physical play, his edge, his compete level,” Sullivan said. “All of those things, we think, separate him from others. He's a quality player, and I know his teammates have a lot of respect for his game.”

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jbombulie@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @BombulieTrib.


Penguins' Bonino meets close friend Capitals' Shattenkirk in playoffs for 1st time

By Jonathan Bombulie

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 6:54 p.m.


WASHINGTON ­— From the perspective of Washington Capitals defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, there was a lot to hate about the third-period goal Penguins center Nick Bonino scored Thursday night.

In the big picture, it essentially won the game for the Penguins, giving them a 3-2 victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals series.

On top of that, Shattenkirk was on the ice for the goal. He was a step or two too far away from Scott Wilson to prevent the Penguins winger from making the centering pass that sent Bonino in on net.

Worst of all, though, is the fact that he probably never is going to hear the end of it.

Shattenkirk and Bonino are the best of friends, classmates at Boston University who hit it off immediately after arriving on campus as freshmen in 2007. They were roommates for their entire college careers. Shattenkirk was the best man at Bonino's wedding.

They will see each other regularly back home over the summer, and Shattenkirk has no doubt Bonino will make the goal a topic of conversation at some point.

“It kind of ticked me off even more that it was him,” Shattenkirk said. “He's someone I have to see later on in the summer. I have to hear about that. You have to give him credit. He's a performer in the playoffs and another guy on their team we have to worry about.”

Shattenkirk is sure Bonino will needle him about the goal because of the nature of their relationship. From Day 1, it's been about friendly competition.

“I also know that he's an extremely competitive person,” Shattenkirk said. “We've battled for years in many different ways. In practices, on the golf course. There's plenty of ways we've gone against each other, and we always want to beat each other.”

Not unexpectedly, then, when Shattenkirk said he's the better golfer of the two, Bonino scoffed.

“No,” Bonino said. “Not even close.”

The series is the first time Bonino and Shattenkirk have squared off in a postseason setting.

Bonino said he thought it might happen in the Stanley Cup Final last season. Shattenkirk and the St. Louis Blues were taking on San Jose in the Western Conference finals while the Penguins were facing Tampa Bay in the East.

The Sharks won the series, of course, delaying the matchup until Shattenkirk was dealt to the Capitals at this season's trade deadline.

“I think it was inevitable that we'd meet eventually,” Bonino said. “It being the Pens' biggest rival, it definitely makes it a little bit interesting. We're both going to play our game and then talk about it afterward.”

Perhaps when that conversation takes place, Bonino will brag a little more about the goal he scored Thursday night. On Friday afternoon, though, he sounded almost apologetic about delivering such a dramatic blow to a good friend's psyche.

Almost.

“It's a weird feeling playing against someone you're that close with,” said Bonino, who noted he and Shattenkirk decided not to talk while the series is ongoing. “Even though he's on the other team, it's never good seeing your buddies feeling like that. If there's ever a circumstance where it's OK, that was it.”

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jbombulie@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @BombulieTrib.


Three Periods: An inside look at the Penguins-Capitals series
Capitals not in panic mode after loss to Penguins in opener

By David Driver

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 5:39 p.m.


ARLINGTON, Va. — Aden Perry, a second-grader from nearby Rockville, Md., played hooky from school to watch hockey Friday.

Perry was at the Washington Capitals optional practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex just hours after he was in the stands to watch the Penguins take a 1-0 series lead with a 3-2 win on Thursday night at Verizon Center.

But Perry, 8, at Kettler with his father, Carlos, held a brown cardboard sign Friday that read: “I Know We Will Win.”

He certainly hopes the Capitals feel the same way as they host the Penguins on Saturday night in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series.

Washington has won just one playoff series in nine tries against the Penguins, but the Capitals are 10-6 all-time in the playoffs in Game 2 after losing the first game.

So how important is it to win this Game 2?

“It is huge,” Capitals forward Tom Wilson said. “The next game is the biggest game. Hopefully we will bounce back with a big win. We just have to be more focused for 60 minutes.”

The Capitals spent Friday pointing out they dominated many aspects of Game 1. But two goals in a span of 52 seconds by Sidney Crosby led to a win by the speedy Penguins on Thursday.

“They are a great team,” Capitals forward Jay Beagle said. “They are going to capitalize on some mistakes. We played a good game. (We) woke up. The sun is shining. It is one game.

“We gave it everything we had. We just have to make sure in Game 2 we come out with more desperation and make sure we go after them. You can't focus too hard on one (game), especially when it is over.”

The Capitals outhit the Penguins, 41-17, on Thursday. All seven Washington playoff games this spring have been decided by one goal.

“We can be better in a few areas,” Washington coach Barry Trotz said. “We are going to be better tomorrow. The things that we can control we can do better. All of those critical little details ... add up to things. That was the difference, that one minute (in the second period).”

The Penguins defeated the Capitals in six games in last season's playoffs. But Trotz dismissed a similar feeling to the 2016 exit.

“We are in a different place,” he said. “We feel we can still build on our game. We know we can do more. We are not backing off. I am excited about the rest of the series, for sure.”

Washington goalie Braden Holtby had 18 saves but allowed three goals Thursday.

“I thought he was fine,” Trotz said. “He didn't think he played as good as he could. He is a guy that responds. He is going to be better tomorrow. That is good for us.”

Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury had 33 saves, including several in a flurry in front of his net with about three minutes left in the third period with several bodies, one helmet and his stick on the ice.

Trotz still was shaking his head Friday afternoon, wondering how the puck didn't go in for his squad during that wild sequence.

“They are a really good team. I think we had some momentum in the third period,” Washington forward Nicklas Backstrom said. “We have to be more careful what we do with the puck and we should be fine.”

Notes: Trotz said the status of defenseman Karl Alzner is “the same.” He has missed the last five games with an upper-body injury … Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin scored one goal Thursday and has 11 goals in 14 career playoff games against the Penguins. ... Washington won its last two playoff series after losing Game 1.

David Driver is a freelance writer.


Chipped Ice A.M.: The beat goes on for Crosby against Caps

By Jonathan Bombulie

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 7:09 a.m.


WASHINGTON – Before Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby was asked his impression of Penguins rookie Jake Guentzel, who led the league with five goals in the first round of the playoffs.

With all due respect, Holtby said he had bigger worries than Guentzel when Guentzel was on the ice.

“It's been a trend for years. If you're playing with (Sidney Crosby), you're usually going to get some pretty good looks. We know that,” Holtby said. “We know still the heartbeat of that line is Sid.”

It was beating loud and clear Thursday night.

Crosby scored a pair of goals 52 seconds apart early in the second period, leading the Penguins to a 3-2 victory.

The first goal was on a two-on-one with Guentzel 12 seconds into the period.

“Sid does that slap shot that kind of flicks its toe at the end and goes the opposite way,” goalie Braden Holtby said. “I just didn't keep my glove in the right position.”

After the goal, Crosby's line went to the bench. Following a brief shift by Evgeni Malkin's line, coach Mike Sullivan went right back to Crosby.

“Sometimes if we juggle a little bit, it gives us an opportunity to get what we think might be an advantageous matchup,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “It doesn't always happen on the road. It was an opportunity I thought we had to try to build on the momentum we had with the goal.”

It worked wonders. Holtby dropped an Olli Maatta point shot, allowing Patric Hornqvist to bump a pass over to Crosby at the bottom of the right faceoff circle.

“The first two shifts in the second period, they got two preventable goals,” Washington coach Barry Trotz said. “We've got to manage the puck. They're got some very high-talented guys that can stretch the zone. If you give them a loose puck, they can create some stuff.”

It's probably not accurate to call the two-goal effort a bounce-back performance for Crosby. After all, in the first round of the playoffs, he had two goals and seven points as the Penguins finished off the Columbus Blue Jackets in five games.

But he was staring at a couple of unpleasant statistics coming into Thursday's game.

For one thing, the Penguins were outscored 8-3 when Crosby was on the ice at even strength in the Columbus series. For another, he had no goals and two assists in a six-game playoff series with the Capitals last season.

He ended both those slumps in one 52-second flurry.

“It's just making sure we make good plays and if those opportunities present themselves, then great,” Crosby said. “I don't think we need to chase them. If they're there, we make the plays and execute, but we don't have to cheat. I thought we did a good job of that.”

After Crosby's goals, the Capitals had an answer. Before the second period was over, Alex Ovechkin ripped a blazing wrister past Marc-Andre Fleury's blocker to cut the Penguins lead to 2-1.

The series was billed as another matchup between the game's two greatest superstars.

Thursday's events will do nothing to tamp down that kind of talk the rest of the way.

“I know both athletes,” said Trotz, who coached Crosby at the World Cup last September. “They're both driven. I don't think they're driven by the other guy's success or whatever. They're driven athletes. That's why they're in the top 100 in the history of this league. They're the faces of both franchises.

“You could say in a lot of ways they saved our game when they first came into the league from lockouts and what have you. They're special athletes, both those guys. They look for those big moments and they capitalize on those moments. They're special players.”

THE SERIES: Penguins lead, 1-0

LAST GAME: Nick Bonino's third-period goal gave the Penguins a 3-2 win in Game 1 Thursday night.

NEXT GAME: The teams square off again in Washington in Game 2 Saturday night. The Capitals didn't lose back-to-back home games all season.

A NOTE: The Penguins' third line of Scott Wilson, Bonino and Conor Sheary was dominated from a shot-stats perspective in Game 1. When Bonino was on the ice at even strength, the Capitals had a 21-2 shot-attempt advantage. One of the two shots the Penguins attempted, however, turned out to be the game-winning goal.

A QUOTE: “It was kind of a weird game. No penalties against us on our side. Sometimes (stuff) happens. You just have to fight through it, put a puck in.” –Ovechkin

A NUMBER: 8 – blocked shots for Ian Cole in Game 1, the same total as the entire Washington team combined.

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jbombulie@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @BombulieTrib.


Bonino's tiebreaking goal helps Penguins escape Capitals with 3-2 win in Game 1

By Jonathan Bombulie

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 10:30 p.m.


WASHINGTON — Last season, Nick Bonino drove the final nail into the Washington Capitals, scoring the overtime winner for the Penguins in a clinching Game 6 of a second-round series.

On Thursday night, he was hammering again.

Bonino broke a third-period tie with his second goal of the playoffs, leading the Penguins to a 3-2 victory in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference semifinals series.

Game 2 will be played Saturday night in Washington.

“It's big,” Bonino said. “We lost (Game 1) last year. We know you're behind the 8 ball when that happens. To steal a game in their rink and effectively get home ice back in the series, that's huge.”

Bonino's goal came after the Capitals rallied back from two goals down to forge a 2-2 tie.

The play was a perfect example of the bedrock principle the Penguins used to claim the Stanley Cup last season — speed, in all its forms, turning a puck in the defensive zone into a scoring chance in no time flat.

The play started when Justin Schultz gathered a puck behind his own net and quickly passed to his defense partner, Ian Cole, in the corner.

While that was going on, Bonino and winger Scott Wilson saw their teammates had control of the puck, cut off their forechecking routes and headed back up the ice.

Cole zipped a 110-foot pass up the boards to Wilson at the far blue line. Wilson quickly dished to the middle of the ice, where Bonino was charging to the net. He picked up the puck and beat goalie Braden Holtby to the blocker side.

“I haven't had a breakaway in I don't know how long,” Bonino said. “I just tried to get it on net, and it found a hole there.”

No one in the locker room seemed surprised Bonino played the hero. In last season's playoffs, he was a legitimate Conn Smythe Trophy contender with 18 points in 24 games.

“I just think Bones is a guy that's a high-stakes player,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “He brings his best game when the games are most important.”

Another player who fits that description, of course, is Sidney Crosby.

In dramatic fashion, Crosby made sure the Penguins wouldn't be plagued by the slow starts that hurt them in the Columbus series by scoring two goals in a span of 52 seconds in the opening moments of the second period.

On his first shift of the period, he finished off a pass from Jake Guentzel on a two-on-one. On his second shift, Patric Hornqvist corralled the rebound of an Olli Maatta point shot and shuffled it over to Crosby in the right faceoff circle for a goal.

“That's how it goes sometimes,” Crosby said. “You don't get some for a while and then they come in bunches.”

After the Penguins took a 2-0 lead, the Capitals fired back with a vengeance.

Alex Ovechkin scored late in the second period, counter-attacking after a big hit by Washington defenseman John Carlson on Evgeni Malkin. Former Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen found a wide-open Evgeny Kuznetsov on the left wing for the tying goal eight minutes into the third.

By the time the game was over, the Capitals had an 83-41 edge in shot attempts.

“Listen, Washington's a real good hockey team,” Sullivan said. “They've got real good players. This is two good teams going at it. There are going to be times where they come at us. There are going to be times we come at them. That's what we expect.”

Washington's surge culminated in a wild scramble, fueled by Ovechkin and Carlson, in front of Marc-Andre Fleury with three minutes left in the game. Somehow, the puck stayed out of the net.

“I couldn't find it. I couldn't see it. My stick flew somewhere,” Fleury said. “A couple of times, it popped out of the pile. I tried to put a pad on it. It was fun. It was a fun way to come out on top.”

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jbombulie@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @BombulieTrib.


Fleury's scrambling saves during late scrum secure Penguins victory
Gorman: Hornqvist helps Penguins set tone against Capitals

By Kevin Gorman

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 12:12 a.m.


WASHINGTON

This was about setting the tone for their Eastern Conference semifinal, what Penguins coach Mike Sullivan calls putting their best game on the ice.

The plan for Game 1 against the Washington Capitals was simply to play hard and to compete, then react and respond.

The Penguins did just that in their 3-2 victory over the Capitals Thursday night at Verizon Center, thanks to the impact of Patric Hornqvist.

After sluggish first periods in the first-round series against Columbus, Sullivan shifted his starting lineup to get more aggressive.

Sullivan stayed with a move he made midway through Game 5 against the Blue Jackets, playing Hornqvist on the right wing of Sidney Crosby in place of Conor Sheary, and it paid off with two goals in the first 1 minute, 4 seconds of the second period.

“You know how he plays and the energy he brings,” Crosby said of Hornqvist. “This time of year, with how physical he is and how hard he goes to the net, he's going to create something, whether it's for himself or somebody else. He had some chances. He had some great passes. He's physical. He plays with a ton of intensity and a ton of energy. He's a big part of our team. It's important to have guys like that that can create so much different ways.”

Not only do the Penguins have a healthy respect for Hornqvist's hard-nosed play, but so do the Capitals — especially for his willingness to do the dirty work.

Hornqvist played for Capitals coach Barry Trotz in Nashville, who admired his tenacity to play net-front, and goalie Braden Holtby went as far as to say that if he was a forward he would play the game in the same fashion as Hornqvist.

The move paid off for the Penguins, as Hornqvist did what he does best: He played hard, competed and was disruptive in the crease. In the opening period, Hornqvist redirected one shot off the shoulder of Holtby and whacked away at another loose puck in front of Holtby. In the second period, Hornqvist helped set up two goals in two shifts in the first 1:04.

“I think it was our mindset going into this game,” Hornqvist said. “We were all over them in the first 10 minutes. Then, obviously, in the second period, we got those two goals. …

“We just have to keep playing fast.”

Hornqvist created enough havoc to assist on Crosby's two second-period goals. The first he fed to left wing Jake Guentzel on an odd-man rush that saw the Penguins rookie slide a pass to Crosby for a one-timer and 1-0 lead only 12 seconds into the period.

The second, only 52 seconds later, was all Hornqvist. After Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta's shot was fumbled by Holtby, Hornqvist nudged the puck toward Crosby, who finished it for a 2-0 lead.

“That's how the goals are going to be there,” Hornqvist said.

If the scoring sounds like vintage Crosby against the Capitals, it was.

Although his 17 points, including 10 goals, in 14 playoff games against Washington appear impressive, Crosby did most of the damage in the 2009 Eastern Conference semifinal. The Penguins captain had eight goals and 13 points in that seven-game series, and only two assists in the six-game series against the Capitals last year.

Although Crosby scored three points in Game 2 against Columbus, he finished the series with two goals and seven points. The Sid and Kids line with Guentzel and Sheary wasn't as productive in that series as it was in their final 14 regular-season games, when they accounted for 24 goals and 54 points.

“Sid always brings a lot of things to the table, even if he doesn't score,” Hornqvist said. “Every night, he brings a lot of energy and a lot of confidence to this group.”

That confidence is missing from Sheary, who was demoted to the third line with Nick Bonino and Scott Wilson and was minus-1 in 12:21 of ice time before being benched. Bonino played the hero, scoring the winner, and the Penguins protected the space around goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in the final minutes.

It was a furious finish, bettered only by a strong start that had Hornqvist's signature all over it.

Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at kgorman@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.


Plus-Minus: Penguins at Capitals, Game 1

By Bill West

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 11:15 p.m.


No game sheet is complete without plus-minus, a sometimes misleading statistic that attempts to reflect a skater's two-way performance.

The Tribune-Review's version of plus-minus for the postseason also addresses two-play, albeit with more taken into account.

PLUS

Penguins G Marc-Andre Fleury

After the Penguins went into a defensive shell, their goalie needed to deliver greatness. He found a way, even when scrambles for pucks ended up in his lap.

PLUS

Penguins F Sidney Crosby

Two goals and a team-high five shots more than sufficed as a contribution from Crosby, who also controlled territory better than most of his teammates.

PLUS

Capitals F Lars Eller

Credited with the primary assist on Alex Ovechkin's goal, Eller, one of the few players not involved with last season's second-round series, served as an effective solution to the Penguins' forward depth. Washington generated 19 more shot attempts than it allowed during five-on-five play with Eller on the ice.

EVEN

Capitals D John Carlson

He finished with four shots on goal and seven attempts, and the Capitals possessed the puck well with him on the back end.

EVEN

Penguins D Ian Cole

Eight blocked shots suggest Cole spent a lot of time in the defensive zone during a game in which he didn't need to kill a penalty. But those blocks almost meant the puck didn't reach an already busy Marc-Andre Fleury.

MINUS

Penguins D Brian Dumoulin

On a night when all of the Penguins' blue-liners went through rough stretches, Dumoulin maybe fared just a bit worse than his cohorts. Scorers charged him with three giveaways and credited him with just one blocked shot.

MINUS

Penguins F Conor Sheary

On the ice for just one Penguins shot attempt and 22 from the Capitals during five-on-five play, Sheary's struggles reached new lows.

MINUS

Capitals G Braden Holtby

His defenseman did him no favors, but Holtby nonetheless failed to live up to his Vezina-quality reputation and deliver at least one game-changing save.


Photo gallery: Penguins vs. Capitals Game 1

By Tribune-Review

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 8:50 p.m.


Eastern Conference semifinals Game 1: Penguins 3, Capitals 2


Penguins notebook: Hagelin nears return; Kunitz on 4th line
Pirates cruise in road blowout of Marlins

By Rob Biertempfel

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 10:47 p.m.


MIAMI — What better way for the Pirates to begin a lengthy and likely nettlesome stretch of games than with a day at the beach?

Shrugging off a homestand marked by offensive impotence, the Pirates on Friday set season highs for hits and runs in a 12-2 rout of the Miami Marlins.

The victory kicked off a run of 17 consecutive games without an off day. Fourteen of those games will come on the road, including series against the surprising Cincinnati Reds and a western swing to Los Angeles and Phoenix.

After an off day May 15, the Pirates will close out that month with a stretch of 16 games in a row.

Manager Clint Hurdle must look for ways to keep his players as fresh and sharp as possible.

“We've already had a meeting with the training staff to prep ourselves for 17 straight,” Hurdle said before the game. “It's all mapped out.”

The Marlins can relate to the challenge. They seemed jet-lagged after completing a 7,162-mile road trip, the longest in franchise history.

As they journeyed to Seattle, San Diego and Philadelphia, the Marlins racked 35 runs and 12 homers over 12 games. There wasn't much pep in their bats against Pirates right-hander Jameson Taillon.

Taillon (2-0) gave up a run on five hits, walked two and struck out four. One downside: He was inefficient, needing 95 pitches to get through five innings.

“Part of that is my fault,” Taillon admitted. “I fell behind a couple of guys, had a couple of long (at-bats) with them fighting off pitches. A threw some good pitches that they spoiled.”

Having a 9-0 lead in the second inning can play with a pitcher's mind, too.

“I love the run support,” Taillon said. “But I get a little anxiety in the dugout over getting cold. I was doing high knees, arm circles, squats and stretching.”

Going into the game, the Pirates ranked last in the National League in runs scored and total bases and next to last in hits and slugging percentage.

The Pirates amassed 18 hits — including three triples in one game for the first time since 2013 — and seven walks. Much of that was produced by rookies Jose Osuna (4 for 5, plus a walk) and Gift Ngoepe (3 for 3, plus two walks).

“It's all about the quality (at-bats) and not the results,” Ngoepe said.

Marlins starter Adam Conley (1-2) faced 14 batters and got five outs. The left-hander yielded nine runs on five hits, including a first-inning solo homer by Jordy Mercer.

“It was a very good grind in the box tonight,” Hurdle said. “We got some pitches to hit, and (Conley's) command wasn't sharp. We worked the counts, and made him throw the fastball over the plate.”

In the second, the Pirates sent 14 batters to the plate against Conley and reliever Jose Urena. They scored eight runs — all with two outs.

Josh Harrison legged out an infield single to make it 2-0. Mercer drew a bases-loaded walk. Andrew McCutchen drilled an opposite-field, two-run single.

With the bases loaded, Francisco Cervelli dropped a hit in front of sprawling left fielder Marcell Ozuna. The ball rolled almost to the wall, and Cervelli got his first triple since opening day 2016.

The Marlins dinged Taillon in the third. After Adieny Hechavarria's leadoff triple, Taillon whiffed Urena and J.T. Realmuto with 97 mph fastballs.

Martin Prado barely made contact with a sinker and tapped it up the third base line. It was in a good spot, though — by the time Harrison got to the ball, Prado was on first base with an RBI single.

In the fourth. Ngoepe got his first big league RBI by lining a single to left field that scored Osuna.

Ngoepe and pinch-hitter Alen Hanson hit back-to-back triples in the sixth. Ngoepe's went to the deepest part of Marlins Park and would have been out of some ball yards.

“It would have been the first home run for South Africa,” Ngoepe said. “But that will come.”

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.


Pirates notebook: Demand high for groundbreaking Ngoepe

By Rob Biertempfel

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 7:03 p.m.


MIAMI — Many rookies make their big league debuts in relative anonymity. Gift Ngoepe, however, caused a stir throughout MLB and halfway around the world when the Pirates called him up.

On Wednesday, Ngoepe became the first African-born major leaguer when he entered the game against the Chicago Cubs as a defensive replacement. On Friday, Ngoepe made his first career start against the Miami Marlins.

“I have to calm myself as much as possible,” Ngoepe said. “Just breathe and make sure my heart is not beating a thousand beats per minute. Just go out there and do my thing.”

In a span of about 48 hours, the Pirates received interview requests from more than a dozen media outlets, most of them outside of the United States.

SportsCenter Africa, which made its debut March 8, wanted to talk with him. A reporter in South Africa asked for a Skype interview. Another African outlet asked the Pirates to provide daily “match reports” while Ngoepe is with the team.

“I've done quite a few (interviews),” Ngoepe said with a laugh. “I knew when I signed my contract, that being the first one from a country (South Africa) and a whole continent, that all this publicity was going to happen. It mustn't change me. I must be the same person that I am. That's my theme: Be who you are.”

Planet of the aches

David Freese said his right hamstring discomfort was “still there a little bit” when he hit in the indoor cage Friday afternoon. The training staff was still evaluating to determine if Freese should go on the 10-day disabled list.

When someone pointed out Freese was listed on the lineup card posted in the clubhouse, he smiled.

“My name is on there, so to the Marlins, I'm available,” Freese said. “We'll know more later.”

Freese strained his hamstring during Monday's game against the Chicago Cubs. After lining a first-inning single, Freese missed first base and made an awkward move back to the bag.

“I planted (my foot), stopped and tried to get back and tweaked it a little bit,” he said.

Adam Frazier (left hamstring), who went on the DL on Monday, has not yet resumed any activity.

Paying the bills

The Pirates often are tardy when paying their bills, according to a report released by Creditsafe, an Allentown-based provider of business credit data.

The report claims the Pirates typically take 31 days beyond the agreed payment terms to pay suppliers. They're listed as the second-slowest club in the majors behind the Los Angeles Angels (52 days beyond terms).

“Days beyond terms … is often cited as the most predictive data item when assessing a company's ability to stay in business,” Matthew Debbage, CEO of Creditsafe USA and Asia, said. “Our analysis revealed most of the MLB teams pay their suppliers within terms. We also discovered stragglers, including the Pittsburgh Pirates.”

Creditsafe said it based its evaluation the figures from the first quarter of 2017.

“The Pirates pay appropriately submitted bills in a timely manner and have great relationships with our vendors,” team spokesman Brian Warecki said via an email. “We have no comment on a marketing paper prepared by a credit agency based in Allentown that opines on the ‘creditworthiness' of 30 major league clubs based on the purported time that each club took to pay its invoices in one quarter of one year.”

Minor matters

Going into Friday's game, Triple-A Indianapolis outfielder Austin Meadows had reached base in 13 straight games. In that stretch, he raised his batting average from .048 to .221 and boosted his on-base percentage from .150 to .280.

Right-handed reliever Luis Heredia and catcher Jackson Williams were assigned to Double-A Altoona.

This is the first time Heredia has played above Class A. He was an intriguing prospect — a 16-year-old with a 92 mph fastball — when the Pirates signed him in 2010 for $2.6 million, but he has never gained much traction due to poor conditioning and ineffectiveness. The Pirates have given up on developing Heredia, 22, as a starter. Last year, he had an up-and-down season as the closer for High-A Bradenton. He will be a free agent after this season.

To clear spots at Altoona, catcher Zane Chavez was demoted to short-season Granville, W.Va., and pitcher John Kuchno, an 18th-round pick out of Ohio State in 2012, was released.

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.


Scouting report for Saturday, April 29: Pirates at Marlins

By Rob Biertempfel

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 6:26 p.m.


Pirates gameday

at Marlins

7:10 p.m.

Marlins Park, Miami

TV/radio: Root Sports/93.7 FM, 1480 AM, Pirates Radio Network

Probable pitchers

Pirates RHP Ivan Nova (2-2, 2.00) vs. Marlins RHP Dan Straily (1-1, 3.92)

Gamecast: In his last outing, Straily gave up two runs on four hits in seven innings vs. the Padres. Straily walked one and struck out 14, making him the 10th pitcher in Marlins history to collect 14-plus whiffs in one game. … Going into this series, Marlins outfielders had combined for 17 home runs and 51 RBIs in 19 games. They led the majors by driving in a run every 4.78 at-bats and homering every 14.35 at-bats. … Marcell Ozuna's 21 RBIs since opening day is his highest total in any month in his career. … Josh Harrison is 4 for 12, including two solo homers, vs. Straily. Two of the Pirates' best hitters vs. Straily — Jung Ho Kang (.333) and Starling Marte (.400) — are absent. … Nova has never faced the Marlins. In his last outing, Nova gave up one run in seven innings and picked up the win vs. the Yankees. … The Pirates are in a stretch of 17 games without a day off. Fourteen of those games will be on the road.

Next up

Sunday, 1:10 p.m.: Pirates RHP Chad Kuhl (1-2, 6.63) vs. Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (1-1, 5.14)


Marchers use Trump's 100th day to protest climate policies
'I am going to come through for you,' Trump pledges to NRA

By The Washington Post

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 11:00 p.m.


ATLANTA — On the eve of his 100th day in office, President Trump made a triumphant return before members of the National Rifle Association, promising a group that was one of his earliest and most enthusiastic supporters that he will “never infringe on the right of the people to bear arms.”

“Freedom is not a gift from government, freedom is a gift from God,” Trump said.

Trump, the first sitting president to address the NRA since Ronald Reagan, delivered a fiery speech in which he recounted his election victory and early actions from his administration that are friendly to the gun rights group, and he promised there would be more to come.

“You came through big for me, and I am going to come through for you,” Trump told thousands of members attending the NRA's annual convention. “The eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end. You have a true friend and champion in the White House.”

With his appearance here, Trump marked the coming 100-day milestone in much the same way he has governed in the early stages of his presidency: by appealing to his base. While his job approval numbers have been historically low for this point in his presidency, Trump's most enthusiastic supporters are standing by him, polls show.

The NRA claims 5 million members, including many white rural voters, a demographic that helped tip the electoral college in Trump's favor.

The association played a powerful role in Trump's election, providing critical support in battleground states. It spent more on behalf of Trump than any outside group and began its advertising and other efforts earlier than in any other presidential cycle.

And many of its members were visibly elated by Trump's speech Friday.

In remarks before Trump spoke, NRA chief lobbyist Chris Cox recalled the group's endorsement at its convention last year, saying Trump was “the most proudly Second Amendment nominee in American history.”

“On Election Day, NRA members and gun owners stormed to the polls in an act of sheer defiance of the elites,” Cox said. “And on Inauguration Day, our candidate became our president.”

Addressing the group Friday, Trump hailed his first Supreme Court pick, Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was embraced by the NRA, as well as several of his Cabinet selections.

Trump revived one of his most derogatory insults, referring to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., as “Pocahontas.”

The nickname, which Trump used frequently during last year's campaign, is a reference to Warren's claim of being part Native American, which was questioned during her 2012 election campaign.

Trump brought up Warren while talking about the 2020 presidential election in which Warren could be a Democratic candidate — and potentially the party's nominee, Trump suggested.

“It may be Pocahontas,” Trump said, adding: “She is not big for the NRA.”

Trump has accused Warren of fabricating her heritage, which he said was racist.

He called Jeff Sessions “a pro-Second Amendment, tough-on-crime attorney general” and touted a decision by his interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, to overturn a federal ban on hunting with lead ammunition in national parks and wildlife refuges.

While making general promises to stand with the NRA moving forward, Trump made no mention of two of the group's leading priorities in Congress.

In the months ahead, the NRA will be looking for Trump to put the weight of his office behind a bill that would make concealed-carry permits valid across state lines. Trump endorsed the concept during the campaign, likening it to the portability of driver's licenses.

Also high on the NRA's agenda is the Hearing Protection Act, which would remove federal registration and identification requirements for those seeking gun silencers. That measure has been touted by the president's son, Donald Trump Jr., an avid hunter, who also attended Friday's conference.

Also left unmentioned Friday was an NRA victory earlier in the Trump administration: His signing of legislation that repealed an Obama-era regulation designed to protect certain mentally ill people from purchasing firearms.

In addition to speaking about gun rights, Trump laced his speech with familiar rhetoric and promises from the campaign trail. He warned of the dangers of “radical Islamic terrorists,” called for “putting American first” and pledged to continue a crackdown on illegal immigration.

Trump also played up his promise to build a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico, an initiative dealt a setback in recent budget negotiations over keeping the government open.

“We will build the wall,” Trump said. “You need that wall to stop the human trafficking, to stop the drugs, to stop the wrong people.”

Trump's speech brought a rebuke from Gabrielle Giffords, a former Democratic congresswoman who survied a 2012 assassination attempt and has become an outspoken gun control advocate.

“We need a president who is serious about finding solutions that will save lives and address the gun violence crisis that's plaguing our nation,” she said. “Unfortunately, that's not the president we saw on stage this afternoon in Atlanta.”

Trump's appearance Friday at the gun group's massive national convention recalled the triumphant moment a year earlier, when the NRA endorsed him sooner than it had any other candidate in a U.S. presidential election.

He had run on a pro-gun rights agenda, telling the audience at the 2016 NRA convention, held in Louisville, that “crooked Hillary is the most anti-gun, anti-Second Amendment candidate ever to run for office,” referencing his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

This year's convention drew thousands of Trump voters and NRA members from the southern and Midwestern United States. Members of the crowd - almost exclusively white and mostly male - voiced strong support for the president and his agenda, even as they acknowledged some of his efforts remain in limbo.

Gun owners urged the president to push for their agenda with Congress.

“We know that they've got those bigger issues going on right now,” said Jon Spears, 37, from Somerset, Ky. “We know that they've got those bigger issues going on right now. We understand that. We're not unreasonable. I just want to hear that they are going to support us down the road.”

Like many attendees, Ed Valentine, 67, a resident of the Atlanta suburbs, celebrated the pick of Gorsuch for the Supreme Court. “I hope ⅛he's good⅜,” said Valentine, president of a small environmental engineering firm in the Atlanta suburbs. “You don't know until they get in there.”

He also praised Trump's performance in office so far. “Though he could refine his style a little bit!” Valentine said, laughing.

Trump got mostly glowing reviews from conference attendees after his speech.

“I'm hoarse!” said Cathy Boswell of Acworth, Georgia. Her husband, Mike, laughed, saying his hands were sore from clapping.

“He always delivers,” Cathy Boswell said. “He doesn't hold anything back, and that's why we love Donald Trump,” Mike agreed.

“I thought it was amazing,” said Jody Looper, 46, a stay-at-home mom from Mount Juliet, Tennessee. “It's so nice to have a constitutional president again.”

A large anti-NRA protest featuring Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., is scheduled here for Saturday.

But on Friday, dozens of protesters still gathered at nearby Woodruff Park in downtown Atlanta, chanting and holding signs that read “Tiny Bloody Hands.” At one point, the group laid down in the grass to represent people killed by gun violence every year, a demonstration they called a “die-in.”

Another group gathered outside Atlanta's private Capital City Club, where Trump arrived after his speech to hold a fundraiser for Republican congressional candidate Karen Handel. As Trump's motorcade pulled up, the crowd booed, chanted and beat drums.

Handel finished second in the April 18 special election to Democrat Jon Ossoff; the two will face each other in a runoff on June 20. The race, to replace Republican Tom Price, now Trump's health and human services secretary, is being closely watched nationally as a test of how Trump is affecting down-ballot races.

During his remarks to the NRA, Trump plugged Handel's candidacy, telling convention goers: “She's totally for the NRA, and she's totally for the Second Amendment, so get out and vote.”


Tillerson eyes cutting 2,300 jobs at State Department

By The Associated Press

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 9:04 p.m.


WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is proposing to eliminate 2,300 jobs as part of a plan to cut more than a quarter of the State Department's budget for the next fiscal year, officials said Friday. The plan will almost certainly meet resistance from lawmakers opposing President Donald Trump's proposal to shrink the size of the federal government.

Tillerson's proposal reduces the number of new diplomats being hired and includes the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development's possible consolidation, according to officials briefed on the proposal. The staff cuts would amount to about 3 percent of the department's roughly 75,000-strong workforce.

The proposal is a response to the Office of Management and Budget's call to slash the State Department and USAID budgets by 31 percent through deep cuts to foreign aid and other programs, said the officials, who weren't authorized to speak publicly about the as-yet unreleased plan and requested anonymity.

Tillerson's plan would entail a 26 percent budget reduction, they said.

In an interview with NPR that aired Friday, Tillerson said he intended to reorganize the department to make it more efficient and focused.

“What we really want to do is examine the process by which the men and women — the career foreign service people, the civil servants, our embassies — how they deliver on that mission,” he said.

“We want to hear from them, we're just about to embark on a department-wide listening mission,” he said, adding later: “I look forward to hearing their ideas. Because I know there's going to be opportunities to allow them to be more effective. Now, out of that we'll determine what the State Department looks like.”

Cutting more than a quarter of State Department's current $50.1 billion budget would require dramatic reductions in programs and staffing, cuts that many in Congress and elsewhere oppose.

Tillerson's proposal includes 700 job cuts through buyouts and 1,600 from attrition. The job cuts were first reported by Bloomberg.

Buyouts would be offered first to staffers over the age of 50 with at least two decades of government service, the officials said.

The State Department declined to comment on the job reductions, and officials cautioned that plans are tentative until the budget is submitted to Congress next month.

But Tillerson has spoken publicly of the need to streamline the agency. He will outline plans to State Department staffers next week, officials said. Tillerson hasn't addressed State Department workers since his first day on the job in February.

As part of the plan, a high-level panel will explore the consolidation of USAID into the State Department this summer, officials said. An outside consultant will be brought in to survey staffers about additional areas where savings might be found.

The officials briefed on Tillerson's proposal this week said the plan also calls for cutting back on hiring new diplomats, from as many as five classes of incoming foreign service officers per year to one or two.

It also envisions less hiring of civil service employees, who comprise about 15 percent of the department's workforce.

Numerous members of Congress as well as current and former senior military officers have said they are opposed to massive cuts to the diplomatic budget, which accounts for just over 1 percent of the total federal budget.

On Thursday, a bipartisan group of 43 senators urged “robust funding” for the State Department and USAID.

“At a time when we face multiple national security challenges around the world, deep cuts in this area would be shortsighted, counterproductive and even dangerous,” they said in a letter to Senate appropriators.


Trump wants to bill S. Korea for installation of missile defense system

By The Washington Post

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 11:00 p.m.


SEOUL — The South Korean government reeled Friday at President Trump's sudden insistence that it expects Seoul to pay $1 billion for a missile defense system that many here do not want, the latest in a series of slights against one of the United States' leading allies in Asia.

Trump on Thursday revived — in a particularly blunt way — his campaign-trail complaints that South Korea was not paying enough for its defense and that it was getting the better deal out of a trade pact.

In the latest turn of events, Trump said he wanted the government in Seoul to pay for the Terminal High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) system that the U.S. military installed in South Korea just this week and which is expected to become operational in the next few days.

“I informed South Korea it would be appropriate if they paid. It's a billion-dollar system,” Trump said in an interview with the Reuters news agency. “It's phenomenal, shoots missiles right out of the sky.”

The South Korean government had been reluctant to deploy the system, aimed at guarding against the North Korean threat, because it would anger China, its biggest trading partner.

The U.S. military had been urging Seoul to deploy the system, and the government finally agreed in July last year. Under their agreement, the United States would pay for the system while South Korea would supply the land for it.

But it has remained controversial. The fierce opposition only mounted when the U.S. military moved key pieces of THAAD equipment onto the deployment site in the middle of the night this week.

The idea that South Korea would have to pay for a system that many reject, analysts say, will boost support for Moon Jae-in, the liberal candidate for president who has vowed to review the previous government's decision to host the THAAD system. Moon already has a strong lead in the polls, some of which give him twice as much support as his nearest rival.

Moon's team seized on Trump's statement.

“It has become obvious that the deployment decision process was seriously flawed from the start,” Youn Kwan-suk, a spokesman for the Moon campaign, told reporters in Seoul.

“As the THAAD system will have a big impact on our security and impose huge economic costs, it's essential that we seek approval for it from the National Assembly,” Youn said, reiterating Moon's intention to review the whole plan.

Centrist Ahn Cheol-soo, who has said he will abide by the previous government's deal with the United States, said the agreement must be honored and that any changes would need National Assembly approval.

Even conservative parties that support the THAAD deployment said the issue was “a matter of trust” between the allies.

In another slight, Trump said the U.S. trade agreement with South Korea — forged during the George W. Bush administration — was “a horrible deal” and threatened to terminate it.

“It was a Hillary Clinton disaster, a deal that should've never been made,” he said in an interview Thursday night with The Washington Post.

During a visit to South Korea earlier this month, Vice President Pence said the administration wants to overhaul the deal to make it fairer to the United States.

South Korean authorities said Friday that they had not been informed of either proposal.”Our basic position remains unchanged,” South Korea's Defense Ministry said in a statement. The THAAD agreement reached last year, whereby South Korea provides the land and the United States the equipment, remains in force, it said.

An official at the Trade Ministry said the South Korean government has not received a request to renegotiate the trade deal or a notice it was being torn up. “We are trying to understand what President Trump said exactly and the context of his remark,” a ministry official told local media.

The Foreign Ministry said it planned to lodge a complaint with Washington over this “diplomatic discourtesy,” an official there said.


Congress approves stopgap spending bill to prevent federal shutdown
Trump signs order aimed at opening Arctic drilling

By The Associated Press

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 4:03 p.m.


WASHINGTON -- Working to dismantle his predecessor's environmental legacy, President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Friday aimed at expanding oil drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans.

With one day left to rack up accomplishments before he reaches his 100th day in office, Trump signed an order reversing some of former President Barack Obama's restrictions and instructing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review a plan that dictates which federal locations are open to offshore drilling.

It's part of Trump's promise to unleash the nation's energy reserves in an effort to reduce oil imports and spur jobs, regardless of fierce opposition from environmental activists who say offshore drilling harms whales, walruses and other wildlife and exacerbates global warming.

U.S. oil production has boomed in recent years, primarily because of improved drilling techniques such as fracking that have opened up production in areas previously out of reach of drillers.

“This executive order starts the process of opening offshore areas to job-creating energy exploration,” Trump said during a White House signing ceremony. “It reverses the previous administration's Arctic leasing ban and directs Secretary Zinke to allow responsible development of off-shore areas that will bring revenue to our treasury and jobs to our workers.”

“Today,” he said, “we're unleashing American energy and clearing the way for thousands and thousands of high-paying energy jobs.”

The executive order aims to reverse part of a December effort by Obama to deem the bulk of U.S.-owned waters in the Arctic Ocean and certain areas in the Atlantic as indefinitely off limits to oil and gas leasing.

It also directs Zinke to review the locations available for offshore drilling under a five-year plan Obama signed in November. The plan blocked new oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans. It also stopped the planned sale of new oil and gas drilling rights in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas north of Alaska, but allowed drilling in Alaska's Cook Inlet southwest of Anchorage.

The order could lead to the opening of oil and gas exploration areas off Virginia and North and South Carolina, where drilling has been blocked for decades. It could also re-open the door to the use of seismic surveys by energy companies to map potential drilling sites for oil and natural gas in the Atlantic Ocean.

The oil and gas industry has pushed for Atlantic drilling and pledged that exploration would be done safely, with lessons applied from the disastrous 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Many lawmakers from Georgia to Virginia support offshore drilling, but the plan faces broad opposition from the fishing industry, tourism groups and even the U.S. military, which has said Atlantic offshore drilling could hurt military maneuvers and interfere with missile tests the Navy relies on to protect the East Coast.

More than 120 coastal cities and towns from New Jersey to Florida-including cities such Wilmington, North Carolina, Myrtle Beach and Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia- have passed resolutions against Atlantic drilling and seismic testing.

Zinke said that leases scheduled under the existing plan will remain in effect during the review, which he estimated will take several years.

The order also directs Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to conduct a review of marine monuments and sanctuaries designated over the last 10 years.

Citing his department's data, Zinke said the Interior Department oversees some 1.7 billion acres on the outer continental shelf, which contains an estimated 90 billion barrels of undiscovered oil and 327 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered natural gas. Under current restrictions, about 94 percent of that outer continental shelf is off-limits to drilling.

Zinke, who is also tasked with reviewing other drilling restrictions, acknowledged environmental concerns as “valid,” but he argued that the benefits of drilling outweigh concerns.

Obama administration officials said they were confident that Trump would not be able to reverse Obama's December action designating the bulk of U.S.-owned waters in the Arctic Ocean and certain areas in the Atlantic as indefinitely off limits to oil and gas leasing. The ban relies on an arcane provision in a 1953 law. White House officials said in December that the language of the statute provides no authority for subsequent presidents to undo so-called permanent withdrawals of oil and gas leases from the Outer Continental Shelf.

Trump's move was applauded by the energy industry, including the National Ocean Industries Association.

“It's a new day and a new attitude for American energy,” said the group's president, Randall Luthi. “The time is right for such a review.”

Environmental activists and many Democratic officials, meanwhile, railed against the signing, which comes seven years after the devastating BP spill.

“When Deepwater Horizon exploded, Floridians saw firsthand the catastrophic consequences of offshore drilling. Spills don't just devastate ecosystems - local economies that depend on the health of our environment and clean water also feel extreme pain,” said Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla. “I urge the Trump administration to reverse course and put the well-being of our coastal communities above oil industry profits.”


Trump tells NRA: 'You have a true friend' in White House

By The Associated Press

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 3:55 p.m.


ATLANTA -- President Donald Trump reaffirmed his support for gun rights Friday, telling attendees of a National Rifle Association convention that “the eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end.”

Trump, the first sitting president to address the group's annual convention in more than 30 years, assured the audience that he would defend their right to bear arms in a campaign-like speech reminiscent of his election rallies.

“You have a true friend and champion in the White House,” he said.

The president's trip to Atlanta also served as his first foray into a congressional race since taking office. After delivering his NRA remarks, the president headed to a private fundraiser for Republican congressional candidate Karen Handel, who is running in a special congressional race that has become a national referendum on his presidency.

During the speech, the president congratulated Handel and urged Republicans to support her.

“She's totally for the NRA, and she's totally for the Second Amendment, so get out and vote,” he said.

Trump has been a champion of gun rights and supportive of NRA efforts to loosen restrictions on gun ownership. During the campaign, he promised to do away with President Barack Obama's efforts to strengthen background checks and to eliminate gun-free zones at schools and military bases.

The last president to address an NRA convention was Ronald Reagan, who spoke to the 1983 gathering, according to the powerful gun rights lobby.

Trump's appearance in Atlanta sparked protests from people advocating for stricter gun control measures. They included Steve Hagen, who called the NRA's push for federal legislation to make any state's concealed-carry permits valid nationwide “the dumbest thing I've ever heard.”

“I guess the promoters are throwing states' rights out the window,” Hagen, a 68-year-old from the Atlanta suburb of Tucker. “It's just crazy.”

Opponents of the bill say the move would effectively turn the weakest gun standards in the nation into the law of the land. The GOP-led Congress already passed a resolution to block a rule that would have kept guns out of the hands of certain people with mental disorders, and Trump quickly signed it.

Trump, who also attended last year's NRA convention as a candidate, boasts of owning a pair of guns and mentioned again on Friday that his two adult sons are avid hunters. He stirred controversy during the campaign when he suggested that “Second Amendment people” could stop his opponent Hillary Clinton, which some interpreted to be a call for violence against the Democratic nominee. Trump disputed that charge.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said on the plane trip from Washington that NRA members supported Trump during the election based on his strong commitment to gun rights. He also cited Trump's appointment of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

“I know the NRA is glad to have a justice in that seat who is such a staunch defender of the Constitution,” he said.

Kevin Michalowski, executive editor of a magazine published by the United States Concealed Carry Association, said seeing that a president will be addressing the annual meeting “gives the gun industry a feeling of he's on our side.”

The political landscape has changed dramatically with a president now in the White House friendly to the gun industry and gun rights. But Michalowski said it's premature to get complacent with gun sales having tapered off since the election and “there's always a group out there that opposes the Second Amendment and what it stands for.”

Trump attendance at the private fundraiser for Handel is his first such endeavor for a congressional hopeful since he took office and confirmation that the GOP sees Georgia's 6th Congressional District runoff as a barometer of the 2018 midterm elections.

The affluent, well-educated district has been in Republican hands since 1979 - when voters put the future House Speaker Newt Gingrich to the seat - and it still covers the usually conservative northern suburbs of Atlanta. But an upstart Democrat, 30-year-old Jon Ossoff, used an anti-Trump wave to raise more than $8 million ahead of an April 18, multiparty primary and nearly won the seat outright, finishing almost 30 points ahead of Handel, the top Republican vote-getter.

Handel largely avoided mentioning Trump during the primary campaign, a nod to his struggles in November, when he barely won a district that usually gives GOP presidential nominees more than 60 percent of the vote.

But Handel has openly embraced the president in the opening days of the runoff campaign. Trump called to congratulate her on qualifying for the runoff and praised her via his personal Twitter account. Both major parties and their aligned organizations have flooded the district with volunteers, paid staffers and promises of millions in additional television advertising ahead of the June 20 second round.

The winner will succeed Republican Tom Price, who resigned to joint Trump's Cabinet as health secretary.


Judge to sentence former head of Chicago Public Schools

By The Associated Press

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 6:39 a.m.


CHICAGO — A federal judge in Chicago is scheduled to sentence the former head of the nation's third-largest school district for steering $23 million in no-bid city contracts to education firms for $2.3 million in bribes and kickbacks.

Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who held top education jobs in Detroit and Cleveland before becoming Chicago Public Schools CEO, faces up to 20 years behind bars when sentenced Friday. Prosecutors will ask for a 7½-year term, while the defense will argue for 3½ years.

The scheme displayed a brazenness that stood out even for a city with a long history of corruption. Byrd-Bennett, 68, participated in it knowing the district was buckling under major financial strain; the district serves 400,000, mostly low-income students, a government sentencing memo says.

At the time, Byrd-Bennett had a national reputation as an education reformer, earned a $250,000 annual salary and had multiple pensions from previous jobs. But prosecutors say she made a decision “rooted in greed” to participate in the scheme.

SUPES Academy and Synesi Associates LLC owners Gary Solomon and Thomas Vranas both pleaded guilty to offering Byrd-Bennett kickbacks worth 10 percent of lucrative city contracts she helped them win.

Court documents say Byrd-Bennett wrote in a 2012 email to Solomon about her eagerness to make money: “I have tuition to pay and casinos to visit.”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel hired Byrd-Bennett in 2012, vowing to revitalize a school district also criticized for low student performance. As CEO, Byrd-Bennett oversaw the shuttering of dozens of schools in a money-saving measure.

She began her 40-year education career teaching in low-income neighborhoods in New York City, not far from where she grew up. Her lawyer, Michael Scudder, said she felt “crushing humiliation and shame” for her crimes. Since her indictment, her name was stripped from the title of a Cleveland training center, he added.

As for why she took part in the scheme, Scudder wrote: “Nobody has struggled more with this question than Barbara herself.”

He said she planned to make a statement to Judge Edmond Chang before he imposes a sentence.

When scrutiny of district contracts grew in 2013, Byrd-Bennett began deleting potentially incriminating emails, according to prosecutors. She resigned in June 2015 as word spread of an investigation.

Prosecutors said in their sentencing memo that they would have asked for a stiffer sentence but that Byrd-Bennett deserved credit for agreeing to cooperate soon after her arrest.

In exchange for pleading guilty to one count of wire fraud in 2015, prosecutors agreed to drop 19 other counts of fraud charged in the original indictment.

Solomon was sentenced in March to seven years in prison; Vranas is also due to be sentenced Friday.


In Egypt, pope seeks Christian-Muslim rejection of violence
Arkansas executes 4th inmate in 8 days

By The Associated Press

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 12:36 a.m.


VARNER, Ark. Arkansas has wrapped up an aggressive execution schedule, putting to death its fourth inmate in eight days.

Thirty-eight-year-old Kenneth Williams received a lethal injection Thursday night at the Cummins Unit prison at Varner for killing a former deputy warden after he escaped from prison in 1999. At the time of his escape in a 500-gallon barrel of hog slop, Williams was serving a life term for killing a college cheerleader.

The state had planned to put eight men to death before its supply of the sedative midazolam expires on Sunday. At that pace, Arkansas would have executed inmates at the quickest rate since the U.S. Supreme Court reauthorized the death penalty in 1976.

Courts issued stays for four of the men who were scheduled to die.


Trump, reversing Obama, will push to expand oil, gas drilling in Arctic, Atlantic

By The Washington Post

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 11:00 p.m.


President Trump will take a major step Friday to expand oil and gas drilling off U.S. shores, directing the Interior Department to lift restrictions that President Barack Obama imposed in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans. But local political considerations and the global energy market are likely to influence exploration far more than an executive order in Washington.

Several industry officials and experts predict that oil and gas firms will bid on areas the administration plans to open to drilling, including those off the East Coast. But the targeted Arctic areas are much less attractive to investors right now, and even potential drilling in the Atlantic could be complicated by long-standing resistance from coastal communities.

Jason Bordoff, director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University and a former Obama energy and environment adviser, said that while the Trump administration can rescind the former president's efforts to end exploration in the two regions, that process would be complex and involve at least two years of revamping the government's long-term drilling plans.

“The question then is, does anybody show up, and does anybody want these ⅛leases?” Bordoff said. “It depends quite a bit on what the oil market looks like in two years.”

If it looks anything like it does today, with low oil prices and most industry growth taking place onshore, Trump's new policy might have little practical effect.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has made it clear he wants to boost drilling in federal waters to generate more royalties. While this money goes directly to the U.S. treasury, Zinke suggested in a speech Tuesday that the royalties should be spent on a maintenance backlog within the national parks system.

“If you go back to 2008, the department made $15.5 billion more a year, just in offshore, than we do today,” Zinke said. “That's enough to pay for infrastructure.”

But opposition remains intense among politicians of both parties in the Southeast.

According to the advocacy group Oceana, 90 percent of coastal municipalities from Cape May, N.J., to Cape Canaveral, Fla., have formally opposed drilling or seismic testing off their coasts. Prominent South Carolina Republicans, including Gov. Henry McMaster and U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, have come out against drilling there.

“It's not the environmentalists and the dolphin huggers,” said Jacqueline Savitz, Oceana's senior vice president for oceans. “It's the business community. What you've got is a different fight now.”

In Beaufort, S.C., Mayor Billy Keyserling said he is ready to again fight the prospect of offshore drilling — just as he did during the Obama administration — because of concerns over environmental threats, the potential impact on tourism and concern that more local jobs could be destroyed than created.

“We will fight it harder than we did in the past,” Keyserling said. “We all feel very, very strongly.”

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, opposes any drilling in federal waters off his state's coast. But Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va., has introduced legislation calling for a lease sale off Virginia Beach within the next year, along with two additional lease sales off Virginia's coast during each subsequent five-year period. These lease sales would be exempt from review under the National Environmental Policy Act, according to the bill, which would accelerate the process.

Despite the drilling restrictions Obama put in place for Alaska's Arctic, activity continues there. The Italian oil giant Eni wants to reach reserves in a federal area of the Beaufort Sea off Alaska by doing directional drilling from an artificial island it is using in state waters. Hilcorp has taken over a project formerly owned by BP. And Shell, after deciding to drop further exploration plans, gave its offshore acreage to the Arctic Slope Regional Corp., an Alaska Native entity.

Christy Goldfuss, who headed the White House Council on Environmental Quality at the end of Obama's second term, said that the executive order he issued in December specifically allowed exploration in 2.8 million acres in the near-shore Beaufort Sea where commercial interest is greatest.

“The idea that people are breaking down the administration's door to get access to the Arctic is just false,” said Goldfuss, who now serves as vice president for energy and environment policy at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank.

Several industry officials said that even with a change in leasing policy, additional regulatory changes would be needed to make drilling in the Arctic more economically viable.

Still, broader energy trends are likely to shape the future more than any regulatory decision.

“If the last 10 to 15 years teaches us anything at all, it's that we should be humble about our ability to forecast oil prices,” said Bob McNally, a former Bush administration energy official and president of the Rapidan Group consulting firm.

Over the past decade, he noted, those prices have fluctuated between $26 and $140 a barrel. They now hover around $50, but should that start to creep up, interest in offshore exploration and drilling could rise, too. McNally pointed to the recent five-year oil market forecast from the International Energy Agency, which found that demand is expected to “grow strongly” through 2022 and that “the need for more production capacity becomes apparent by the end of the decade, even if supply appears plentiful today.”

“At $100 a barrel, the economics and the politics change,” he said. “You'd see more industry interest and political calls for offshore development.”


Trump tells Reuters 'major conflict' with North Korea possible

By Wire Reports

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 11:00 p.m.


TOKYO — President Trump said he sees the chance of a “major, major conflict” with North Korea over its nuclear program, though he prefers a diplomatic solution, according to an interview with Reuters.

“There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely,” Trump told Reuters. “We'd love to solve things diplomatically but it's very difficult.”

He praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for pressing North Korea — China's neighbor and ally — saying he is “trying very hard.”

Trump spoke as national security leaders emphasized economic sanctions and diplomacy to persuade North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, even as the Pentagon ramps up its military presence in the region with an aircraft carrier battle group and submarine.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said China has threatened to impose sanctions on North Korea if it conducts further nuclear tests.

“We know that China is in communications with the regime in Pyongyang,” Tillerson said on Fox News Channel. “They confirmed to us that they had requested the regime conduct no further nuclear test.”

Tillerson said China also told the United States that it had informed North Korea “that if they did conduct further nuclear tests, China would be taking sanctions actions on their own.”

Bloomberg News and The Associated Press contributed to this report


School segregation controversy rekindled by ruling in Alabama
4,000 Canadian families will soon get paid by Ontario for doing nothing

By The Washington Post

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 11:00 p.m.


OTTAWA — The government of Ontario, Canada's most populous province, is joining the basic-income bandwagon with the launch of a three-year pilot program that will test how paying people an unconditional basic wage works in practice.

“Many people are concerned about what the world is promising their kids,” Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said at a Monday news conference announcing the three-year experiment. “It's a world of global competition, reduced benefits, more and more part-time employment.”

Under the plan, Ontario will provide a basic income to as many as 4,000 randomly chosen low-income households in Hamilton and Thunder Bay and Lindsay. The money will be provided to participants whether they work or not.

A single person could receive up to 16,989 Canadian dollars per year, while a couple can get up to 24,027 Canadian dollars per year a year plus 6,000 extra dollars for a person with a disability. To encourage participants to seek paid employment, the recipients would also be able to keep 50 percent of any money they earn from work and would continue to receive child-benefit payments from the Canadian and Ontario governments. The entire program is expected to cost around $150 million.

The idea of a basic income has been around for years in one form or another. It gets surprising support from both the left, which sees it as an extension of the social safety net, and the right, which sees it as a way to escape the intrusive, bureaucratic nature of traditional welfare programs. (The Ontario experiment will compare families receiving the basic income payments to a control group that will receive benefits under the current system.) Finland and the Netherlands are also conducting basic-income experiments, and a much smaller pilot project is underway in Oakland, Calif..

The idea has also been embraced by tech companies, which worry that increasing automation and the advent of artificial intelligence will someday eliminate millions of jobs. The Oakland project is sponsored by Y Combinator, a Silicon Valley start-up incubator.

Michael Tanner, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington, said he's sympathetic to the basic-income concept “but a skeptic” when it comes to cost. While he believes the idea would be an improvement on the current social safety net, Tanner estimates that providing a basic income to everyone in the United States would cost a staggering $4 trillion a year. He says tech industry likes the idea because it fears a political backlash against automation, which could end up leading to “anti-technology legislation.”

But Evelyn Forget, an economist at the University of Manitoba who specializes in community health, believes a basic-income program could be affordable, noting that Canada already spends 15 billion Canadian dollars a year on social welfare programs. Forget has studied the effects of an earlier basic-income experiment — a similar pilot program in Manitoba in the 1970s — on the town of Dauphin.

She said there was virtually no change in the number of hours worked by primary earners as a result of the basic-income project, but that the hours worked by teenage boys declined — and she later found that the high school completion rate for boys rose.

Her conclusion was that boys in low-income families who were previously under pressure to quit school and go to work were able to remain in school because of the support that the basic income provided. The Manitoba experiment ended without any follow-up because “governments changed.” But 40 years later, as society is moving increasingly toward a “gig economy,” Forget sees a growing role for a basic income.

“Basic income plays a nice job in filling in the gaps and in supplementing low wages,” she said.


2 U.S. troops die battling Islamic State in eastern Afghanistan

By The Washington Post

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 11:00 p.m.


Two service members were killed during operations against the Islamic State in eastern Afghanistan, the U.S. military said Thursday, the latest sign of the security challenges the Trump administration faces in America's longest and most costly war.

Military officials said the deaths occurred during a joint U.S.-Afghan raid Wednesday evening in Nangahar province, where a small but virulent Islamic State cell poses a threat to Afghan and coalition forces.

A third service member was wounded in the same operation, the U.S. military command in Afghanistan said in a statement. The Pentagon declined to identify those killed.

“The fight against ISIS-K is important for the world, but sadly, it is not without sacrifice,” said Gen. John Nicholson, the commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, referring to the Islamic State branch in Afghanistan, known as Islamic State-Khorasan Province.

The incident took place in Nangahar's Achin district near a site where the U.S. military unleashed a massive 22,000-pound bomb this month, a sign of the scale of the ongoing conflict nearly 16 years after U.S. troops arrived in Afghanistan.

The recent fighting in Achin, including the first-ever use of the GBU-43 bomb and Wednesday's incident, which killed two Americans, illustrates the danger posed by just one of multiple terrorist groups in a conflict that U.S. officials have described as a stalemate.

A Taliban resurgence across Afghanistan has meant that the government in Kabul controls only slightly more than half the country's territory, according to a U.S. government watchdog, and that the United States has been forced to return forces to areas pacified at great cost under President Obama's 2009-11 troop surge.

At the same time, local forces are struggling to contain an array of militant groups along the country's border with Pakistan, including the Islamic State.

Faced with those challenges, the Trump administration is reevaluating its strategy for Afghanistan and considering sending additional U.S. troops to support local forces. Nicholson has called for thousands of extra service members to help train and support the Afghan military.

According to Navy Lt. Chris Donlon, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Wednesday's incident happened close to Achin and near where U.S. aircraft dropped the GBU-43 munition two weeks ago.

That bomb targeted a sprawling Islamic State tunnel complex, and although Afghan officials said between 36 and about 100 Islamic State fighters were killed in the strike, the U.S. military has not announced what exactly the bomb accomplished.

An Afghan military official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss current operations, confirmed that there had been a joint U.S.-Afghan operation in a village near Achin district Wednesday but was not aware of any casualties. He said it had been a long day of fighting.

The Afghan branch of the Islamic State, mainly composed of militants pulled from other groups, has emerged as an increasing counterterrorism focus for United States in Afghanistan.

Although military officials say the group is far smaller than it was at its height in 2015, an estimated 600 to 800 militants, located mainly in remote mountainous areas, have proven to be a deadly adversary. Fighting has been fierce as U.S. and Afghan Special Operations forces, backed by hundreds of airstrikes, have sought to advance against militant strongholds in recent months.

The deaths mark the third time this year that a member of the U.S. military has died in combat in Afghanistan. On April 8, Army Staff Sgt. Mark R. De Alencar, 37, of Edgewood, Md., was killed by small-arms fire, also in Nangahar.

They come just days after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis visited Afghanistan to assess the security situation and advance deliberations about the Trump administration's approach to a war that has largely been overshadowed by events in Iraq and Syria.


Pentagon joins intensifying probe of former Trump aide Flynn

By The Associated Press

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 6:12 p.m.


WASHINGTON — Investigations intensified into President Trump's ousted national security adviser, Michael Flynn, Thursday as the Pentagon watchdog joined lawmakers in probing payments he accepted from foreign sources including a Russian state-sponsored TV network.

At the same time, documents released by the top Democrat on the House oversight committee show Flynn was warned by authorities after he retired from the military in 2014 not to take foreign government-sourced money without “advance approval” from the Pentagon.

Flynn, a former Army lieutenant general and Defense Intelligence Agency chief, later accepted tens of thousands of dollars for his work on behalf of foreign interests, including RT, the state-supported Russian television network, and a Turkish-owned company linked to Turkey's government.

The Pentagon's acting inspector general confirmed he has launched an inquiry into whether those payments qualify as coming from foreign governments and whether Flynn properly informed military authorities about them.

The White House defended its hiring of Flynn and attempted to shift blame for any problems with his vetting onto the Obama administration, which handled the reissuance of his security clearance in January 2016.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., who released the documents, said during a news conference that Flynn had been clearly informed he needed to get permission to receive foreign payments and there's no evidence he did so.


Protesters attack Macedonian lawmakers after leadership vote
Israeli strikes inside Syria pick up tempo in proxy war


By The Associated Press

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 6:42 p.m.


BEIRUT — Syria's military said Israel struck a military installation southwest of Damascus International Airport before dawn Thursday, setting off a series of explosions and raising tensions further between the two neighbors.

Apparently seeking to interrupt weapons transfers to the Hezbollah group in Lebanon, Israel has struck inside Syria with increasing frequency in recent weeks, making the war-torn country a proxy theater for Israel's wider war with Iran.

The increasing tempo of attacks risks inflaming a highly combustible situation drawing in Israel, Syria and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, a staunch ally of President Bashar Assad's government with thousands of fighters in Syria. Israel's military said later Thursday that its Patriot Missile Defense system intercepted an incoming projectile from Syria over the Golan Heights.

An Israeli defense official said the Patriot hit a drone, and the military is checking whether it was Syrian or a Russian aircraft that entered the Israeli side by mistake. He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with protocol.

The Syrian government and Hezbollah, however, are mired in the country's 6-year-old civil war and are unlikely to carry out any retaliation that might ignite a bigger conflagration with Israel.

“Iran and Hezbollah are overstretched, and it's not clear they can afford to gamble with a direct showdown with Israel now,” said Maha Yahya, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center. “Iran knows no matter how powerful they've become, they can't be fighting on two fronts at the same time.”

Israeli Minister of Intelligence Yisrael Katz would not comment directly on the incident but said any similar strike would be in line with established policy to interrupt weapons transfers.

“It absolutely matches our declared policy, a policy that we also implement,” Katz told Israel's Army Radio.

Just before the apparent Israeli missile strike, at least three cargo jets from Iran probably landed at the Damascus airport, said Ian Petchenik, a spokesman for the flight-tracking website FlightRadar24. They include an Il-76 flown by the Iranian cargo company Pouya Air that “was last tracked over Iraq headed towards Damascus,” he said.

It's unknown what they were carrying. Passenger flights and civilian cargo jets continue flying into Damascus, although there's suspicion that some commercial flights serve as cover for weapons transfers from Iran.

The Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a right-leaning think tank that has criticized the nuclear deal Iran struck with world powers, has said Pouya Air is the latest name for a long-sanctioned airline. It also has accused Pouya Air of funneling arms from Iran into Yemen's capital of Sanaa to supply Shiite rebels there.

Emanuele Ottolenghi, a senior fellow at the foundation, said he tracked a fourth cargo flight from Iran to Syria on Wednesday night, an Airbus A300 operated by Mahan Air, which is suspected of ties to Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard. He also called one of the cargo flights, a Qeshm Fars Air Boeing 747, especially suspicious because the airline stopped operating in 2013, only to resume flights to Damascus three weeks ago.

“We don't know for sure, but let's say that we can fairly safely assume that the weaponry and fighters reach Damascus through these daily flights,” Ottolenghi told The Associated Press.

The explosions near Damascus reverberated across the capital, seat of Assad's power.

Syria's state-run SANA news agency said Israel had fired several missiles from inside the occupied Golan Heights, 37 miles south of Damascus, striking a military installation southwest of the airport that serves both military and civilian flights. It reported damage but no casualties.

“The buildings shook from the force of the blast,” said a media activist who goes by Salam al-Ghoutawi of the Ghouta Media Center in the opposition-held northeastern suburbs, about 9 miles from the airport. He said he heard the roar of jets in the distance.

Explosions were silhouetted against the night sky in a video published by the center. Debris was seen flying out as the explosions illuminated a sizeable cloud nearby.

Hezbollah's al-Manar media station reported a blast at fuel tanks and a warehouse next to the airport, which is 16 miles east of central Damascus.

The Syrian military said in a statement the attack sought to “raise the morale of terrorist groups” the government maintains are fighting Assad's forces. It made no mention of whether it would respond.

Israel is widely believed to have carried out airstrikes in recent years on advanced weapons systems in Syria — including Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles and Iranian-made missiles — as well as on Hezbollah positions. It rarely comments on such operations.

Last month, Syria fired missiles at Israeli jets after they struck targets in Syria, in a rare military exchange between the two adversaries.

Hezbollah is an avowed enemy of Israel, and the two sides fought a monthlong war in 2006. Tensions between them along the Lebanon-Israel border have risen in recent weeks, with each side warning of a much more serious confrontation. Some Israeli officials have also recently been threatening grave damage to the Lebanese civilian infrastructure in case of a new conflict with Hezbollah, apparently in hopes the country can somehow rein in the militia.

Yahya, the analyst, said Israel is increasingly worried about the potential arsenal that Hezbollah's could acquire and the weapons already available in Syria.

“Most likely they see a window of opportunity where their intervention can degrade Hezbollah's military power,” she said.

The conflict in Syria, which pits Assad and his regional allies against local and foreign opposition forces, has killed more than 400,000 people since it began in 2011. The civil war is further complicated by militant factions such as al-Qaida's affiliate in Syria and the even more powerful Islamic State group, which in 2014 seized a large chunk of territory but lately has been losing ground in the face of a campaign by a U.S.-led international coalition.

Russia, another key Assad ally, denounced what it called an act of “aggression” against Syria. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova did not directly blame Israel for Thursday's explosion, but she cited Syrian media as saying Israel was responsible.

In other developments, at least 19 people were killed in air raids across rebel-held Idlib province in the northwest. Some appeared to target ambulances and medical centers.

The Civil Defense, a search-and-rescue organization, said four medical staff were killed in an attack on a university hospital in the town of Deir Sharqi, and four paramedics or ambulance operators died in an airstrike on an ambulance services in another town, Maarzita.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 19 civilians, including nine children, were killed around the province. The Civil Defense reported the same overall death toll.

The activists believe Russia or the Syrian government launched the raids. U.S. jets also are known to strike in Idlib province, targeting al-Qaida-linked fighters.


Sprawling nighttime food markets popping up in the U.S.
U.S. stocks close modestly lower, but end higher for the week

By The Associated Press

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 9:48 p.m.


U.S. stocks closed modestly lower Friday, ending just short of another milestone for Wall Street.

The Nasdaq composite index narrowly missed its fourth record-high close this week, though all the major indexes still notched weekly gains.

Phone companies, banks and materials stocks were among the big decliners. Technology stocks gained the most, while health care and energy also bucked the broader market slide. Crude oil prices rose.

Investors continued to focus on company earnings reports as they mine for insight into the health of Corporate America. So far, earnings have been mostly exceeding Wall Street's expectations. But an unimpressive report on economic growth in the first quarter may have given some traders pause Friday.

“The market is worried that the second quarter perhaps will see continued weakness, and that's part of the tug-of-war we're seeing in the market,” said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial. “Are we going to see the economy snapping out of this weak patch?”

The Standard & Poor's 500 index slipped 4.57 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,384.20. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 40.82 points, or 0.2 percent, to 20,940.51. The Nasdaq composite lost 1.33 points, or 0.02 percent, to 6,047.61.

Small-company stocks fell more than the rest of the market. The Russell 2000 index gave back 16.70 points, or 1.2 percent, to 1,400.43. Three stocks fell for every two that rose on the New York Stock Exchange.

Bond prices edged higher. The 10-year Treasury yield slipped to 2.28 percent from 2.30 percent late Thursday.

The market started the week off on a strong note, in part reflecting relief following the first round of France's presidential election. Results suggest France may not try to break apart from the European Union.

Washington also helped move the market. On Wednesday, White House officials unveiled the broad outlines of a tax plan, stoking expectations of lower taxes, plus less regulation for businesses, policy proposals that have helped drive stocks higher since November.

On Friday, the major stock indexes were flat or down much of the day. Early on, investors weighed the government's initial estimate of economic growth in the first three months of the year.

The Labor Department said that the U.S. economy turned in its weakest performance in three years in the January-March quarter, reflecting a slowdown in consumer spending. Growth, as measured by gross domestic product, amounted to 0.7 percent in the first quarter. That was less than what economists were expecting and followed a gain of 2.1 percent in the final quarter of 2016.

Traders also continued to size up company earnings. A little more than half of the companies in the S&P 500 index have reported results for the January-March quarter. Some 55 percent of those turned in earnings and revenue that exceeded Wall Street's expectations, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

“Earnings have been topping expectations for the most part, but overall, the market is still nervous about growth and whether or not we're going to see a pickup in economic releases,” Krosby said. “The market remains nervous about geopolitical risk and remains nervous about tax reform.”

Investors bid up shares in companies that delivered better-than-expected results.

Google's parent company, Alphabet, gained 3.7 percent after the internet giant reported better-than-expected quarterly results thanks partly to a big jump in advertising revenue. The stock added $33.08 to $924.52.

Amazon.com rose 0.7 percent after the online retailer posted solid first-quarter results. The stock picked up $6.61 to $924.99.

Royal Caribbean Cruises gained 6.1 percent after the cruise line operator posted solid earnings and bookings. The stock added $6.10 to $106.60. Rival Carnival also rose, picking up 79 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $61.77.

Several companies slumped after they reported disappointing results.

Synchrony Financial tumbled 15.9 percent. The stock was the biggest decliner in the S&P 500, sliding $5.25 to $27.80.

Medical software and services company Athenahealth sank 19.3 percent as sales and margins weakened. The stock fell $23.44 to $98.01.

Starbucks lost 2 percent after the coffee chain's sales growth at established locations was weaker than expected. The company also posted fiscal second-quarter earnings that matched Wall Street's expectations. The stock shed $1.24 to $60.06.

Time Inc.'s decision not to sell itself sent the stock plummeting 16.9 percent. The magazine publisher's shares fell $3.10 to $15.20.

Major stock indexes overseas mostly closed lower.

In Europe, Germany's DAX was flat, while France's CAC 40 slipped 0.1 percent. London's FTSE 100 index lost 0.5 percent. In Asia, indexes mostly fell. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 lost 0.3 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng declined 0.3 percent. Seoul's Kospi shed 0.2 percent.

Eurozone inflation data pushed the euro up sharply as it raised speculation that the central bank may not keep its stimulus program in place as long as expected. It was up to $1.0895 from $1.0882 on Thursday. The dollar strengthened to 111.44 yen from 111.23 yen.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 36 cents, or 0.7 percent, to settle at $49.33 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, climbed 29 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $51.73 a barrel in London. Home heating oil fell less than a penny to $1.50 a gallon, wholesale gasoline was little changed at $1.55 a gallon and natural gas rose 4 cents to $3.28 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In metals trading, gold rose $2.40 to settle at $1,268.30 an ounce, while silver slipped 7 cents to $17.19 per ounce. Copper gained 2 cents to $2.60 per pound.


5 apps to help grads start saving and investing

By The Washington Post

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 8:57 p.m.


You've got the diploma. You've moved over your tassel.

Now the real work begins.

When you're paying off student loans, saving and investing may seem like the last things you can afford to do. But it's never too early to start squirreling away some money for the future, even if it's only a few bucks at a time. Financial apps can help, as long as you're not nervous about giving companies access to your financial data. If you're on board with that, these apps can help make spending and investing a little less daunting.

Acorns

This investing app takes the concept of “seed money” and runs with it. The app is designed to let you drop in $5 to invest. It also lets you round up purchases you make to the next dollar and invest the difference.

The app is simple to set up and makes it easy to start putting money into your account automatically. It's also easy to stop, if you have a bad month and can't afford to invest at the time. Acorns works best when you feed your account on a regular basis, even if it's just a little at a time.

Robinhood

Robinhood's goal is to make you rich without making brokerage firms richer, by letting you trade without commissions and fees.

The real benefit of Robinhood is that it's fast — much faster than traditional brokerage firms and built with a real-time pace at its core. Users can pick the stocks they want and track their performance on the market. It's also pretty easy to cash out, if you're done playing the market or want to reinvest in another stock.

There is a premium membership available for $10 a month, for those who want access to after-hours trading and a couple of other perks.

Stash Invest

Stash Invest is also designed to let you deposit just a little money at once.

Stash also provides a lot of educational information to help you pick investment options that work best for you. It offers ready-made portfolios . Choosing among these portfolios can be a little more work than other apps, but it also gives you a strong basis for moving on to more advanced investing by educating you on the culture of investing.

Clarity Money

With options to help you keep track of bills, streamline debt and set up automatic ways to save, Clarity Money is an (almost) all-in-one financial app.

It assesses your finances and suggests subscriptions you can cut or bills you can negotiate. The app also cleverly takes into account when your next paycheck is coming so you can better plan what your immediate financial moves should be.

Digit

Digit is laser-focused on getting you to put something away for a rainy day.

This app evaluates what's going in and out of your bank account and socks away money depending on your situation. Digit communicates with you by text message, giving you daily updates about the money it's pulled into savings. You can make a withdrawal at any time, if you want to spend some cash, or if you think that Digit has been overambitious with your savings abilities.

You won't make more money, because you're not investing or gaining interest.


Blockbuster has survived in the most curious of places: Alaska

By The Washington Post

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 12:09 p.m.


For families across the United States, driving to the local Blockbuster Video was a Friday night ritual. The kids fought over which movies to rent, parents had to pay off the late fees and all succumbed to the popcorn and candy buckets at the register.

Blockbuster once operated 9,000 stores nationwide, bringing in $6 billion in annual revenue at its peak. In 1989, a new Blockbuster was opening every 17 hours. But the image of the blue-and-yellow ticket stub logo now merely evokes nostalgia and memories of a time before Netflix, before online streaming, before some laptops eliminated DVD players altogether.

After a long decline, the video rental business declared bankruptcy and its new parent company, Dish Network, began closing all remaining retail locations in 2013. Netflix had won, and Blockbuster was dead. Or so Americans thought.

At least 10 known Blockbuster stores across the country have managed to stay afloat in the digital age. However, the largest cluster of Blockbuster stores are not on the mainland, but in Alaska, where dark, long winters and expensive Wi-Fi have helped maintain a core group of loyal customers.

“A lot of them are still quite busy,” Alan Payne, a Blockbuster licensee-owner, said in an interview with The Washington Post. “If you went in there on a Friday night you'd be shocked at the number of people.”

Payne owns eight of the last surviving Blockbuster stores in the country, including seven in Alaska and one in Texas, employing about 80 people. He first purchased Blockbuster franchises in 2000, just years before the industry as a whole began to decline. At one point his Austin-based company, Border Entertainment, owned 41 stores across the country.

After the 2008 recession hit, and after Netflix began to emerge as a major threat, Payne and his team of managers said, “OK, we're going to do this as long as it makes sense.”

Business indeed took a tremendous hit, and sales have been on a continual decline. In 2013, 40,000 people were coming through Payne's stores, and that number has now dropped to about 10,000. Just this week, one of Payne's last two Blockbusters in Texas closed. He didn't think his stores would last past 2016, but through a “managed downscaling” Payne has managed to keep them profiting, without making any cuts to employee salaries and without any support from Blockbuster's owner, Dish Network. He simply pays a licensing fee to use the business name and logo.

“We just keep plodding along,” Payne said.

The stores' survival has depended on aggressive real estate deals with landlords willing to offer short-term leases and reduced rent. It has required running the business “a lot differently” than Blockbuster ever did, avoiding what Payne calls “a contentious culture over late fees.” Unlike the old Blockbuster, Payne's version never sends out invoices to customers for late fees; they are simply collected whenever they come into the store.

But he has also refused to eliminate late fees entirely like Blockbuster did, a decision Payne calls the “final nail in the coffin.”

Still, a great deal of the business's endurance has come from the core customer base in Alaska, primarily made up of older people. Alaska ranks high in disposable income among the states, due to good-paying jobs, exceptionally low taxes and payments from reinvested oil savings. Moreover, internet service is substantially more expensive than in most states, since most data packages are not unlimited. Heavy Netflix streamers could end up paying hundreds of dollars per month in internet bills, Payne said.

For this reason, a hefty 20 percent of sales in Payne's Blockbuster stores come from rentals of TV shows — from the “binge watchers,” he says.

Alaska's cold, long and dark winters also lend themselves to plenty of in-home entertainment, Payne said. The most profitable Blockbuster store is in bitterly cold Fairbanks, where temperatures can reach 50 below zero.

Most of Payne's managers have remained in their roles for at least a decade, riding out the wave of closures and declining sales. If any of them were to leave now, Payne said, “it would be impossible for me to go out and hire a new management team.”

But Payne said, “They love the business, they want to see it to the end.” What has kept his managers around for so long is also what has kept Blockbuster alive - the interaction with customers.

“There's not a whole lot of retail businesses that people go to because they truly want to,” Payne said. “When you went on a Friday or Saturday night to rent a movie ... that was just fun.”

In fact, more than half of Blockbuster's revenue is generated during a six-hour period on Friday nights, Payne said. “Most of our people remember those days, and it's still fun to be there on a weekend.”

When asked why people keep coming to his store, Kevin Daymude, the manager of a Blockbuster outlet in Anchorage, said: “Easy. Customer service.”

“Everyone likes to feel like they're special and that they can talk to someone face to face if they have a question,” Daymude said. He has known some of his regular customers for more than 20 years. Despite its challenges, he has stuck around because he still believes in Blockbuster, “our little company in the ‘Last Frontier'” Daymude said.

“When you go in the store, walk down the aisle, you're going to see all kinds of things you never thought of,” Payne said. There's something about finding a “diamond in the ruff” on a shelf that is simply more gratifying than scrolling on a computer screen.

Yet Payne accepts the reality that it's only a matter of time before he is forced to close his Blockbuster stores for good. And for some loyal customers, the closure of a Blockbuster store cuts deep.

In Mission, Texas, Hector Zuniga's parents would rent movies for him twice, even three times a week from their nearby Blockbuster. Hector, 20, is autistic and nonverbal, and though he has trouble communicating, he always had a way of telling his family when he wanted to go to Blockbuster.

He simply said, “Barney,” according to his brother, Javier, 19.

When his parents told him the Blockbuster in Mission would be closing, Hector was heartbroken, and confused. Knowing how much Hector loved the store, and how accustomed he was to visiting it as part of his routine, his parents came up with a solution: They decided to create a mini-Blockbuster in their home.

When they revealed the surprise this week, Hector began to smile, laugh and clap, Javier said. In their home, the parents had set up a display rack, complete with a Blockbuster sign, and stocked the shelves with movies they purchased in the store's closing sale. Among the movies were all of Hector's favorites: “Elmo,” “Veggie Tales,” “Rugrats” and, of course, “Barney.”


The age of flying cars is here, Silicon Valley promises
U.S. economy expanded at weakest pace in 3 years

By The Associated Press

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 9:04 p.m.


WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy turned in the weakest performance in three years in the January-March quarter as consumers sharply slowed their spending. The result fell far short of President Donald Trump's ambitious growth targets and underscores the challenges of accelerating economic expansion.

The gross domestic product, the total output of goods and services, grew by just 0.7 percent in the first quarter following a gain of 2.1 percent in the fourth quarter, the Commerce Department reported Friday.

The slowdown primarily reflected slower consumer spending, which grew at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 0.3 percent after a growth rate of 3.5 percent in the fourth quarter. It was the poorest quarterly showing in more than seven years.

Despite the anemic first-quarter performance, the U.S. economy's prospects for the rest of the year appear solid. Growth is expected to be fueled by a revival in consumer spending, supported by continued strong job growth, accelerating wage gains and record stock levels.

Weakness in the first quarter followed by a stronger expansion in the spring has become a pattern in recent years. The government's difficulty with seasonal adjustments for the first quarter has been a chronic problem and may have shaved as much as 1 percentage point off growth this year.

The sharp slowdown in consumer spending in the first quarter was attributed to a collection of temporary factors: warmer weather, which shrank spending on heating bills, a drop-off in auto sales after a strong fourth quarter and a delay in sending out tax refund checks, which also dampened spending.

Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, said he expected consumer and government spending to bounce back, leading to a much stronger second quarter.

“Still, the report will mark a rough start to the administration's high hopes of achieving 3 percent or better growth, not the kind of news it was looking for to cap its first 100 days in office,” Guatieri said in a note to clients.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, one of the administration's top economic policymakers, said that the weak first quarter performance showed the need for the new policies Trump is offering.

“We need the president's tax plan, regulatory relief, trade negotiations and the unleashing of (the) American energy sector to overcome the dismal economy inherited by the Trump administration,” Ross said in a statement.

He said that strong business and consumer sentiment “must be released from the regulatory and tax shackles constraining economic growth.”

Averaging the two quarters, they forecast growth of around 2 percent for the first half of this year. That would be in line with the mediocre performance of the eight-year economic expansion, when growth has averaged just 2.1 percent, the poorest showing for any recovery in the post-World War II period.

Trump had repeatedly attacked the weak GDP rates during the campaign as an example of the Obama administration's failed economic policies. He said his program of tax cuts for individuals and businesses, deregulation and tougher enforcement of trade agreements would double growth to 4 percent or better.

In unveiling an outline of the administration's tax proposals on Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he believed growth above 3 percent would be achievable.

Many economists are more skeptical. They are forecasting growth of this year around 2.2 percent. That would be an improvement from last year's 1.6 percent, the weakest showing in five years, but far below Trump's goal. Many analysts believe that the impacts of Trump's economic program will not be felt until 2018 because they are not expecting Congress to approve some version of Trump's tax program until late this year.

The GDP report released Friday was the first of three estimates the government will make of first quarter growth.

The 0.7 percent increase was the worst showing since GDP contracted by 1.2 percent in the first quarter of 2014.

In addition to weaker consumer activity, the first quarter slowdown also reflected a cutback in restocking of store shelves. The slowdown in inventory rebuilding cut nearly a percentage point from growth in the first quarter. Also acting as a drag was a reduction in government spending, which fell at a 1.7 percent annual rate with both the federal government and state and local governments seeing cuts.

On the positive side, business investment rose at a 9.4 percent rate, helped by a record surge in spending in the category that tracks spending in the energy sector. This category had seen sharp cutbacks in recent quarters, reflecting reductions in exploration and drilling as energy prices declined. Housing construction was also strong, growing at a 13.7 percent rate, the fastest pace in nearly two years.

Trump noted the weak 2016 GDP performance in a tweet Wednesday and contended that “trade deficits hurt the economy very badly.” For the first quarter, trade was actually a small positive after a major drag in the fourth quarter.


CEOs salivate over Trump's tax-cut plans, vague as they may be

By Bloomberg News

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 9:30 p.m.


Nothing gets Corporate America going like a tax-cut proposal.

Chief executive officers are keeping their fingers crossed that the skeletal details offered up by President Trump's administration Wednesday will turn into a concrete proposal to slash the corporate tax rate to 15 percent from the current 35 percent. That would free them up to invest and fuel economic expansion, they said in interviews and conference calls this week.

“If you listen to the framework of tax reform, I find that incredibly encouraging for companies like ours,” Rick Gonzalez, CEO of drugmaker AbbVie, said on an earnings call Thursday. The proposed tax changes “would put us in position that would be far more competitive.”

Skeptics argue that companies would only pass along tax savings to investors, boosting special dividends and buybacks. The one-page list of principles that Trump's administration released Wednesday cited the elimination of “tax breaks for special interests,” signaling that some companies might have to give up subsidies they currently receive. But for now, the nation's business chieftains are rooting for the Republican president.

“We can be a cheerleader from the sidelines,” said Stephen Holmes, chief executive officer of hotel operator Wyndham Worldwide Corp., said Wednesday on a call with investors. “Lower taxes means better cash flow, more opportunity to invest.”

The White House is embarking on the arduous task of turning its one-page outline into legislation on a matter that has already divided Congress and large companies. Before the White House weighed in, a detailed plan backed by House Speaker Paul Ryan had drawn the ire of retailers and other industries because of a border-adjustment provision that would tax imports but not exports, leading many members of Congress to raise doubts about it.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who unveiled the White House's guidelines on Wednesday with National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, was vague on details. That's made it difficult for companies to plan. Should they get more aggressive on investments and merger opportunities, certain that tax reform will materialize eventually? Or should Trump's early legislative stumbles, such as a failed dismantling of the Affordable Care Act, give them pause about how much they can bank on major changes to the tax code?

“We continue to believe that something does get done this year, but the timing and the magnitude of it are anybody's guess,” Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, said Tuesday in a call with investors. “But achieving competitive corporate tax rates,­ this is probably the biggest catalyst available for our public policy makers if they want to increase capital investment and job creation.”

For some executives, a simplified tax code would present some tradeoffs. Waste Management Inc. noted that subsidies for fuel and low-income housing could go away, affecting its tax strategy. “But we'll be happy to give up the fuel tax credit for a term for a rate reduction in corporate tax rates,” CEO James Fish said on a call.

The White House has pitched Trump's wish list as a way to boost capital spending to create jobs and boost the economy. But one aspect may do more to help shareholders than workers. The administration reiterated its plan Wednesday for a one-time tax reduction for companies to repatriate cash from their foreign subsidiaries.

Though Mnuchin didn't specify a rate for overseas funds brought home, the president said on the campaign trail that he wanted a cut to 10 percent from the current corporate income-tax rate of 35 percent. More than $2 trillion in offshore profits is held overseas by U.S. companies.

A rate cut could be a boon for tech companies like Apple and Microsoft, and industrial behemoths such as General Electric. Their investors would do quite well, too, if history is any lesson. In 2004, a similar move led to an overseas influx of cash that was mostly returned to shareholders, not spent on building factories and creating jobs. While discussing repatriation Thursday, Gonzalez of AbbVie cited the company's commitment to increasing its dividends.

“The vast majority of that cash was spent in the form of share buybacks, which are good for stocks in the short run,” said Gina Martin Adams, chief equity analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence. More than likely, “companies will give it back to shareholders.”

Such a boost to shareholder returns could help prolong the run-up in U.S. stocks since Trump was elected in November. The so-called “Trump bump” has seen the Standard & Poor's 500 Index surge 12 percent since then.

Repatriation “could be a nice benefit,” said Marshall Front, who oversees $800 million as chief investment officer at Front Barnett Associates in Chicago. On the other hand, investors could overestimate how much companies actually would give back, he said. “The danger is that people could carried away with the impact.”

There's another tantalizing benefit for companies with large operations overseas. A lower tax rate offers an opportunity to get a competitive edge against foreign competitors that have to pay more to their own governments.

“Doesn't matter what industry you're in,” said Boeing Chief Financial Officer Greg Smith on a conference call Wednesday. “If you're a global company, it's going to allow you to compete on a global platform. And so we're supportive of that.”


Trump to order investigation into aluminum imports

By The Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 10:24 p.m.


WASHINGTON — President Trump will direct his administration Thursday to expedite a new investigation into whether aluminum imports are jeopardizing U.S. national security.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the president will sign a memo ordering him to determine the impact of rising aluminum imports. High-purity aluminum is used in a number of defense applications, including military planes and the armor-plating of military vehicles.

Ross said that, thanks to steep competition from overseas, there is only one American smelter that produces high-purity, aerospace-quality aluminum still in operation.

“It's very, very dangerous, obviously from a national defense point of view, to only have one supplier of an absolutely critical material,” he said at a White House briefing Wednesday evening.

The move, which could lead to tariffs on aluminum imports, is the second such investigation the president has initiated. Last week, he asked Ross to look into steel imports to determine whether they, too, pose a national security risk.

“This is not an area where we can afford to become dependent on other countries,” Trump said then.

U.S. aluminum producers have been hurt badly by China's astonishing rise in the industry. Since 2000, China has increased its share of the world aluminum market from less than 11 percent to nearly 53 percent, increasing production almost 12-fold.

Meanwhile, in the United States, aluminum plants have shuttered and production has dropped 77 percent over the same period as aluminum prices plunged in the face of the onslaught from China. The U.S. share of the global market has dropped from a world-beating 16 percent in 2000 to less than 2 percent last year.

Trump has declined to fulfill his campaign promise to label China a currency manipulator as he leans on the country for help neutralizing the threat posed by North Korea's missile program.

But Ross said the aluminum action should not be seen as an attack on China. “This is not a kind of China-phobic program. This has to do with a global problem,” he said.

Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 gives the president the power to restrict imports and impose unlimited tariffs if a Commerce Department investigation finds they threaten national security.

“Section 232 gives Trump the discretion he wants to impose tariffs,” says William Perry, a Seattle trade lawyer who writes the US-China Trade War blog. “Section 232 is the prefect weapon to create a trade war.”

Aluminum-exporting countries might retaliate by imposing tariffs of their own on U.S. products, warned the law firm White & Case, which put out a report in January on the president's legal powers to restrict foreign trade. About 60 percent of U.S. aluminum imports come from Canada, which has been forced out of other markets by competition from China.

“Citing a threat to national security gives them a way they can impose tariffs, arguably, without violating WTO rules,” said Amanda DeBusk, a partner and trade specialist at the law firm of Hughes Hubbard & Reed. The World Trade Organization “lets countries define what they believe is in their national security interest.”

On Wall Street, aluminum company stocks rose in anticipation of the news. Century Aluminum shares shot up 8.7 percent and Kaiser Aluminum shares rose 2.6 percent.

Ross said the move was part of Trump fulfilling his campaign promise to crack down on trade abuses.

“It's no doubt that you remember during the campaign, the president announced that he was going to be tougher on trade,” he said. “He announced that he was going to renegotiate existing agreements. He announced that he was going to do his best to bring jobs back to America. So this follows quite logically with him following through on his campaign promises.”


Reactor in China may be key to Westinghouse's future
Ford first quarter profits fall 35 percent

By Detroit Free Press

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 5:45 p.m.


DETROIT — Ford's first-quarter profits sank to $1.6 billion, a 35 percent drop compared to the same period a year ago, as higher costs for warranties, recalls and materials — not to mention falling industry sales in the United States — eroded profits.

During the first quarter last year, the Dearborn, Mich., automaker earned a profit of $2.4 billion, its best ever.

Ford earned 39 cents per share, which compares favorably with the 36 cents per share Wall Street analysts, on average, expected the automaker to earn.

Bob Shanks, Ford's chief financial officer, said the company's performance came in higher than forecasted because sales in North America and two other regions were slightly better than expected. The automaker had warned investors that its first-quarter profit would fall significantly.

Shanks said costs rose $1.2 billion during the quarter compared with the same period a year ago. Those higher costs were due to a $467 million increase in warranty costs, a $176 million increase in commodity costs, and a $253 million increase in product launch costs. Those higher warranty costs include $300 million in costs for two recalls.

Despite the rough first quarter, Ford said it still expects to earn a pre-tax profit of about $9 billion for the year. That would be $1.4 billion less than the automaker's results in 2016.

Shanks said he doesn't expect the higher costs to continue in remaining quarters.

“Basically, the cost increase for the full year has happened in the first quarter,” he said.

Ford, along with all automakers, faces an American automotive industry in which sales are beginning to stall after a seven-year period of growth and record sales. Now, industry incentives are rising as automakers work to tap the brakes on production and reduce inventory.

Ford's first quarter revenue increased to $39.1 billion compared with $37.7 billion for the same period a year ago.

North America continued to be where the automaker made most of its profits, even as those profits fell. Ford's pre-tax profit in North America was $2 billion for the first three months of the year compared with $3.1 billion last year.

In South America, where the economies of Brazil and Venezuela are still in free-fall, Ford reported a pre-tax loss of $244 million compared with a loss of $232 million for the same period a year ago.

In Europe, where the industry continues to recover, Ford reported a pre-tax profit of $176 million compared with $434 million last year.

In Asia, Ford said it earned a pre-tax profit of $124 million compared with $220 million for the same period last year.


Nudge higher for stocks enough to push Nasdaq to record

By The Associated Press

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 5:06 p.m.


NEW YORK — U.S. stock indexes fluttered up and down Thursday, then ended the day a hair above where they started. The slight gains were enough to nudge the Nasdaq composite to another record and the Standard & Poor's 500 index to within a whisper of its all-time high.

It was the second straight day where indexes made only modest, meandering moves, a downshift from big gains made early in the week. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 1.32 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,388.77 and is within a third of a percent of its record.

The Dow Jones industrial average added 6.24 points, less than 0.1 percent, to 20,981.33. The Nasdaq composite rose 23.71, or 0.4 percent, to 6,048.94 and reached a closing high for the third time in four days.

Gains by Under Armour, Comcast and other companies reporting stronger-than-expected profits on Thursday helped to offset a slump in energy stocks. The encouraging reports added to the lengthening list of companies saying they earned more in the first three months of 2017 than Wall Street had forecast. Analysts expect this to be the strongest quarter of growth in years.

The reports have helped lift stocks and temper concerns, at least a bit, that the market had grown too expensive.

“Expectations were high, and they needed to deliver, so thankfully they have delivered,” said Nate Thooft, senior portfolio manager at Manulife Asset Management. “As long as earnings continue to follow through and economic data doesn't roll over materially, stocks can keep going. People will say that valuations are expensive, but I would say, ‘Yeah, but not relative to fixed income.'”

Under Armour jumped to the biggest gain in the S&P 500 after reporting bigger profits than analysts expected. A rise in sales abroad, particularly in Asia, helped push its revenue to $1.12 billion from $1.05 billion in last year's first quarter. The company's A-class shares climbed $1.96, or 9.9 percent, to $21.67.

PayPal Holdings jumped $2.74, or 6.2 percent, to $47.15 after also reporting stronger revenue and earnings than Wall Street had forecast.

Comcast's A shares rose 80 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $39.59 after stronger revenue at theme parks it acquired as part of its NBCUniversal purchase helped it to report stronger first-quarter results than analysts expected.

Even some of the day's losers reported better-than-expected results. American Airlines fell $2.42, or 5.2 percent, to $43.98, for example. Investors were paying more attention to its plans to raise pay for pilots and flight attendants, which would erode future profits, than its earnings from the latest quarter.

Energy stocks were also weak, slumping with the price of oil. Benchmark U.S. crude dropped 65 cents, or 1.3 percent, to settle at $48.97 per barrel, while Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, fell 38 cents to $51.44 a barrel.

Noble Energy lost $1.59, or 4.7 percent, to $32.57, and offshore-drilling contractor Transocean fell 39 cents, or 3.4 percent, to $11.06.

The incremental moves made by stock indexes the last two days belie the many crosscurrents coursing through the market. Stocks jumped early in the week, in part on relief following the first round of France's presidential election. Results indicate France may not try to break apart from the European Union.

Washington is also a big factor. White House officials unveiled the broad outlines of a tax plan Wednesday, though many specifics are still to be determined. Expectations for lower taxes, plus less regulation for businesses, have helped drive stocks higher since November. A potential shutdown of the federal government also looms unless Congress can agree on a spending bill.

In European stock markets, the French CAC 40 fell 0.3 percent, the German DAX slipped 0.2 percent and the FTSE 100 in London dropped 0.7 percent. In Asia, the Nikkei 225 in Japan slipped 0.2 percent, South Korea's Kospi added 0.1 percent and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong rose 0.5 percent.

The price of gold rose $1.70 to settle at $1,265.90 an ounce, silver slipped 10 cents to $17.27 per ounce and copper fell a penny to $2.58 per pound.

Natural gas slipped 3 cents to settle at $3.24 per 1,000 cubic feet, heating oil fell 3 cents to $1.51 per gallon and wholesale gasoline dropped 4 cents to $1.55 per gallon.

The euro fell to $1.0882 from $1.0899 late Wednesday while the dollar slipped to 111.23 Japanese yen from 111.38 yen. The British pound rose to $1.2903 from $1.2843.

Treasury yields ticked lower as government bond prices rose. The 10-year Treasury yield edged down to 2.29 percent from 2.30 percent late Wednesday.


Regulatory rollback: A good start
Trump's tax plan: Realistic or just wishful?

By Tribune-Review

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 11:00 p.m.


The easy part is over. Now President Trump has to sell his far-reaching, limited-detailed, single-page tax plan to a Congress that isn't exactly blowing party horns over what are billed to be the largest tax cuts in U.S. history.

To be sure, slashing the corporate tax rate from 35 percent — among the highest rates in the world — to 15 percent is “huge” by anyone's definition. And that may well be incentive enough for U.S. businesses to repatriate their foreign operations. But is 15 percent realistic? And just how willing is the dealmaker in chief to, well, deal?

Mission Trump also eliminates all individual deductions except charitable and mortgage-interest deductions. Ambitious? You bet. Count on extensive lobbying by various groups pressing hard to keep their precious tax loopholes.

The plan also reduces from seven to three the number of tax brackets. But it offers no specifics about savings by tax bracket, according to critics. Rather than any middle-class boost, they say it's a boon primarily for the so-called 1 percenters that's drafted by a 1 percenter.

Team Trump nevertheless insists that a reinvigorated economy, in itself, will generate enough revenue to pay for the tax cuts — and presumably without deepening the nation's deficit. That's a tall order, just as it was for President Reagan. But what worked for Mr. Reagan might misfire for Trump, who's not exactly a bridge builder with the minority party.

A tax overhaul is long overdue. But for now we'll reserve judgment until we see what ultimately emerges from Trump's ambitious tax plan.


Saturday roundup

By Tribune-Review

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 8:57 p.m.


“This goes on all over the country on campuses. They invite someone to speak, who is not exactly what liberals want to hear, and they want to shut her down. I feel like this is the liberals' version of book burning. It's got to stop.”

— Bill Maher on HBO, discussing a scheduled Ann Coulter talk at the University of California at Berkeley

“The term ‘hate speech' was invented by people ... who want to give the — completely false — impression that there's a kind of speech that the First Amendment doesn't protect ... . What they mean by ‘hateful' ... is really just that it's speech they don't agree with.”

— Law professor Glenn Harlan

Reynolds, USA Today

“Even in today's embittered, conflict-ridden world, the news is sometimes plain good. That was the case after Sunday's first-round vote for president in France. Of the top four contenders, only one, Emmanuel Macron, has been pro-NATO, pro-European Union, pro-U.S. and anti-Putin. He also had the audacity to tell the French they actually have to work if they want a stronger economy. And he won.”

— Ralph Peters, New York Post

“(L)eft-wing candidate ... Jean-Luc Melenchon ... wanted to lead France out of the European Union and NATO and join Cuba and Venezuela ... in something called the ‘Bolivarian Alliance.' In addition to chaotic, French politics can be ideologically nuts.”

— Wesley Pruden, The Washington Times


Trump's Ex-Im flip-flop

By Tribune-Review

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 8:55 p.m.


Mired in the swamp?: Trump's Ex-Im flip-flop


Laurels & Lances
Alle-Kiski Laurels & Lances

By Tribune-Review

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 8:55 p.m.


Laurel: To Harrison, New Kensington, Arnold and Tarentum officials. The fight against blight may be one of the most important battles fought locally in our aging river towns. These towns are putting their money where their mouths are in terms of code enforcement, razing dangerous buildings and giving their code enforcers the tools they need to succeed. Here's to this attitude spreading across the Alle-Kiski Valley.

On the “Watch list”: Another Route 366 bridge replacement. We're all in favor of replacing decrepit bridges. But if history is any guide to the future, motorists using Greensburg Road better prepare for lengthy delays when traffic is reduced to a single, alternating lane on the busy thoroughfare. And remember: A little patience goes a long way.

Lance: To muddying corporate-welfare waters. Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald initially said incentives helped lure Alcoa's headquarters back to Pittsburgh from New York City. Then the Trib reported Alcoa “received no tax breaks or other government subsides” but the “state, (Allegheny County) and city told Alcoa” they'll work to add “certain flight destinations from Pittsburgh International Airport” — which almost always involves subsidies. So, even if there are no Alcoa-related subsidies now, there still might be.


Is profiling OK?

By Walter Williams

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 8:57 p.m.


Profiling is needlessly a misunderstood concept. What's called profiling is part of the optimal stock of human behavior and something we all do. Let's begin by describing behavior that might come under the heading of profiling.

Prior to making decisions, people seek to gain information. To obtain information is costly, requiring the expenditure of time and/or money. Therefore, people seek to find ways to economize on information costs.

Let's try simple examples.

You are a manager of a furniture-moving company and want to hire 10 people to load and unload furniture onto and off trucks. Twenty people show up for the job, and they all appear to be equal except by sex. Ten are men, and 10 are women. Whom would you hire? You might give them all tests to determine how much weight they could carry under various conditions, such as inclines and declines, and the speed at which they could carry. To conduct such tests might be costly. Such costs could be avoided through profiling — that is, using an easily observable physical attribute, such as a person's sex, as a proxy for unobserved attributes, such as endurance and strength. Though sex is not a perfect predictor of strength and endurance, it's pretty reliable.

Imagine that you're a chief of police. There has been a rash of auto break-ins in which electronic equipment has been stolen. You're trying to capture the culprits. Would you have your officers stake out and investigate residents of senior citizen homes? I'm guessing there would be greater success capturing the culprits by focusing police resources on younger people — and particularly young men. The reason is that breaking into autos is mostly a young man's game.

Should charges be brought against you because, as police chief, you used the physical attributes of age and sex as a crime tool?

Some racial and ethnic groups have higher incidence and mortality from various diseases than the national average. The rates of death from cardiovascular diseases are about 30 percent higher among black adults than among white adults. Cervical cancer rates are five times greater among Vietnamese women in the U.S. than among white women. Pima Indians of Arizona have the world's highest known diabetes rates. Prostate cancer is nearly twice as common among black men as it is among white men.

Using a cheap-to-observe attribute, such as race, as a proxy for a costly-to-observe attribute, such as the probability of some disease, can assist medical providers in the delivery of more effective medical services. Just knowing that a patient is a black man causes a physician to be alert to the prospect of prostate cancer.

In the real world, there are many attributes correlated with race and sex. Jews are 3 percent of the U.S. population but 35 percent of our Nobel Prize winners. Blacks are 13 percent of our population but about 74 percent of professional basketball players and about 69 percent of professional football players. Male geniuses outnumber female geniuses 7-to-1. Women have wider peripheral vision than men. Men have better distance vision than women.

The bottom line is that people differ significantly by race and sex. Just knowing the race or sex of an individual may on occasion allow us to guess about something not readily observed.

Walter Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.


There's wisdom in crowds

By John Stossel

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 8:57 p.m.


Will Donald Trump be re-elected in 2020? Probably not, say people who bet. They give Trump only a 23 percent chance. They do pick him over all other politicians, but the favorite is “other.”

I know this because I follow the betting odds at ElectionBettingOdds.com.

Yes, bettors were wrong about Trump's election and Brexit. But those were exceptions. Even Brexit's promoters predicted a loss; even Trump said he thought he'd lose when he saw the election-night exit polls.

But betting odds are usually right. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that if the bettors gave a candidate, say, a 65 percent chance to win, and he lost, bettors were “wrong.” But remember, 65 percent means bettors also thought there was a 35 percent chance that candidate would lose.

There's wisdom in crowds, if the crowds put their money where their mouths are.

ElectionBettingOdds.com named vice president picks Mike Pence and Tim Kaine a week before they were picked.

Even when bettors bet wrong, they are quicker to adjust than others. By 10 p.m. on election night, the odds had flipped from Clinton to Trump. An hour later, bettors had Trump at 90 percent.

I should explain: ElectionBettingOdds.com is a website my TV producer and I created. He takes the odds from legal betting markets, mostly from the biggest and most reliable one, Betfair (based in the U.K.). Our site converts Betfair's complex formulae to percentages that are easy to understand.

Candidates' shares trade like stocks in the stock market. Since, as I write, bettors give President Trump only a 23 percent chance of winning in 2020, you Trump supporters can make a big profit if he wins. Buy 100 shares of Trump now (at 23 cents a share) and if he wins, you'll get $100 for every $23 you bet.

Actually, you Americans can't make that bet because restrictive U.S. anti-gambling regulations prevent Betfair from dealing with Americans.

One American website, PredictIt.com, did get a special exemption from regulators that allows it to take limited bets from Americans, but they don't yet offer 2020 odds on individual candidates.

Think the basic provisions of ObamaCare will be repealed this year? Bettors give it only a one-third chance.

Tax reform fares better: There's a 50 percent chance individual income taxes will be cut.

Finally, who do Betfair's bettors predict will be Trump's competition in 2020? Mike Pence, Elizabeth Warren and, oddly, Michelle Obama.

I am surprised Hillary Clinton does so poorly. Elizabeth Warren leads all Democrats with 8 percent. In fact, bettors give Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders and even Michelle Obama (5 percent) better shots than Clinton (3 percent).

Of course, it's early. We should be skeptical of predictions of events four years in advance. But when I want the most accurate possible clues about the future, I turn to ElectionBettingOdds.com.

Those odds aren't perfect, but they're better than pundits, polls and other alternatives.

We'd have more valuable predictions if nervous U.S. lawmakers would just legalize political prediction markets. Unfortunately, they've been too close-minded to do that.

John Stossel is the author of “No They Can't! Why Government Fails — But Individuals Succeed.”


Assange reveals himself
Mon-Fayette Expressway no highway of dreams

By Colin Mcnickle

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 8:55 p.m.


“If you build it, he will come,” the ghostly voice told the fictional Ray Kinsella in 1989's movie classic “Field of Dreams.” Change “he” to “they” and you'll find the nebulous rationale too often employed to justify the building of new toll highways in Pennsylvania.

The latest folly that comes to mind is the apparently scuttled 14-mile Route 43 toll road from Route 51 at Jefferson to Interstate 376 at Monroeville, the northernmost leg of the Mon-Fayette Expressway.

The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission voted last month to table the $2 billion extension on a highway that, if fully completed, would link I-376 to I-68 in West Virginia. A day later, on March 21, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission halted engineering-design activities.

As Jake Haulk, president of the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, reminds, the expressway extension has faced growing reservations from planners and pols alike.

The former found the 20-year completion time frame inimical to more immediate transportation needs; the latter were struck by, on prior toll road projects, the disparity between pre-construction use forecasts and the lack of usage once built, the Ph.D. economist says.

But what Haulk finds quite troubling was supporters' use of a study by TRIP, a national transportation research group, that blindly touted the virtues of the expressway's northern extension.

“It is long on claims but short on useful data and analysis,” Haulk says.

Among the TRIP study's deficiencies:

• No data indicating current traffic patterns in the region by type, volumes or how much is through traffic or locally generated.

• No comparative analyses gauging utilization and effects of similar toll-road extensions, such as the existing legs of the Mon-Fayette Expressway, Westmoreland County's Route 66 and the Beaver Valley Expressway.

• No analysis of the types of industries that might come to or expand in the area of the expressway's Monroeville extension.

“But even more problematic for the study's usefulness is the methodology used to project the number of jobs that will develop in the area as a result of the extension's construction,” Haulk says.

Not only does the TRIP study appear to misrepresent another study's supposed existing business and jobs claims, Haulk says TRIP used old statistics and a dubious formula to project future jobs.

Haulk says whatever the merits of the Mon-Fayette Expressway extension from Route 51 to Monroeville might be, the TRIP study has provided no convincing evidence or reporting that would warrant spending many years and billions of dollars to build it.

“This is even more the case if there are efficient and less costly ways to improve transportation through widening existing key routes, traffic pattern improvements, enhancing connectivity with existing major regional arteries and setting up more usable mass transit to serve locally within the area,” Haulk says.

“Putting all the eggs in the (expressway) basket is likely to be disappointing and could preclude efforts to fix urgent needs,” he says.

Put another way, the extension would be no highway of dreams, very likely resulting in more pain than gain.

Colin McNickle is a senior fellow and media specialist at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).


Find something else to tax for schools

By Letter to the Editor

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 11:00 p.m.


I think it's a sorry ordeal when a state taxes homeowners to pay for schools. Here I am, an 80-year-old who pays a mortgage loaded with property taxes.

Homeowners should tell the governor and legislators that enough is enough. Do renters pay their fair share if they have children in school?

I don't know how they can keep schools running unless they tax something, so why not cars? When they built these communities years ago, they never envisioned so many automobiles, I'm sure.

Stanley Lloyd

New Kensington


Protecting U.S. lives

By Letter to the Editor

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 11:00 p.m.


President Trump's military actions remind me of World War I hero Sgt. Alvin York.

He began as a conscientious objector but, faced with the death of his men, he killed many German soldiers to save U.S. soldiers' lives.

Apparently, the caves in Afghanistan were known for years as places of refuge for the enemy. If we had the capability to destroy them, why would we not?

Margaret Linderman

New Kensington


The emperor has no clothes
Stop invasive pests

By Letter to the Editor

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 8:57 p.m.


Are you helping invasive pests spread in Pennsylvania or around our country?

You may have heard that invasive plant pests and diseases are primarily introduced through commercial trade — that's true. But once they are here, these destructive plant pests don't move far on their own; they are mostly spread by us.

Through our everyday actions — when we take firewood from home to campsite, mail a gift of homegrown fruits or plants, or order plants, seeds or fruit online — we can contribute to the unintentional spread of any number of destructive plant pests.

Damaging pests like the spotted lanternfly and European gypsy moth threaten the entire state of Pennsylvania. These pests can hide on vehicles, trees, forest products, outdoor equipment, outdoor furniture and other outdoor household articles.

Fortunately, we've slowed the spread of these pests and we need to keep it that way. That's why it's important for everyone to learn more about these destructive plant pests, take responsibility for their actions and help us stop the spread of invasive species.

To protect our state, we are asking Pennsylvanians to join us in the battle against invasive plant pests and diseases. Give us a call to learn what you can do.

This April — Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month — we urge everyone to help stop the spread of these harmful pests.

To report a plant pest in Pennsylvania, call the Bad Bug Hotline at 866-253-7189 or email Badbug@pa.gov.

Timothy Newcamp

& Dana Rhodes

Carlisle

The writers are, respectively, state plant health director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a state plant regulatory official for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.


Ilgenfritz clear choice

By Letter to the Editor

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 8:57 p.m.


In this year's race for Westmoreland County prothonotary, the administrator for the civil courts, one candidate stands out among the rest: Susan Ilgenfritz.

A lifelong Republican and dedicated community leader, Ilgenfritz is a business administration graduate from Robert Morris University with 20 years' experience in management, sales and customer service, top-priority qualifications setting her apart among candidates for the position.

Ilgenfritz serves on the Franklin Regional School Board, where she has served on the policy, curriculum, professional development, safety and health, and Excellence Award committees. She constantly advocates for policies that put student well-being and achievement first. A mother of four, she also serves on the host committee for Savor Pittsburgh, helping to raise awareness and money for the Magee-Womens Research Institute.

If elected, Ilgenfritz has three objectives for the prothonotary's office: fiduciary responsibility, enhanced efficiency and greatly improved customer service. She has pledged to be a full-time public servant to the citizens of Westmoreland County and to contribute to the betterment of our county.

To me, she is the clear choice in this election, and I hope you'll join me in voting for Ilgenfritz in the primary on May 16.

Elaine Gowaty

Murrysville


LGBT's intolerance

By Letter to the Editor

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 8:55 p.m.


Earlier this month, members of the LGBT community at Duquesne University were disappointed that the university may allow a Chick-fil-A restaurant to be part of the campus and were concerned about their safety if it were allowed. This stems from Chick-fil-A donating to some organizations opposed to gay marriage.

The LGBT community wants Americans to be tolerant of their lifestyle and accept them for who they are. However, the LGBT community is very intolerant of others and wants everyone to think like they do.

LGBT activists also complained about Chip and Joanna Gaines, stars of “Fixer Upper” on HGTV, who attend a church that believes in marriage between a man and a woman. This couple did not publicly speak of their beliefs and were only guilty of attending a church that had a different perspective than the LGBT community.

Bill Wilshire

North Huntingdon


Protect clean air
VA relies on, needs volunteers

By Letter to the Editor

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 8:55 p.m.


Every day, citizens in our community thank veterans by volunteering at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System's facilities in Oakland and O'Hara Township and its five outpatient clinics, including one in Westmoreland County.

Our volunteers vary in age, gender, race, income and education, but all share a patriotic drive to improve veterans' lives.

Last year at VA Pittsburgh, 763 volunteers provided 24,315 hours of service and gave more than $1 million in monetary contributions and donated goods. They drove veterans to appointments, directed them throughout our facilities and visited them bedside so they were not alone in trying times.

National Volunteer Week runs through Saturday. It is a time to recognize and thank today's volunteers for their incredible efforts and inspiring actions. It is also a time to call everyone else in our community to serve those who served us first.

We have as many opportunities to volunteer as there are people willing to give of their time. To learn more about volunteering with us, please call David DiFuccia at 412-822-3096.

Karin L. McGraw

Oakland

The writer is medical center director for the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System.


Readers sound off: Trib's coverage of death of suspended Greensburg Salem teacher 'insensitive'

By Letter to the Editor

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 8:15 a.m.


The Tribune-Review received numerous letters to the editor and phone calls regarding its coverage of Brian Minick, a suspended Greensburg Salem teacher who died Friday while awaiting an employment status hearing.

A sampling of readers' letters that could be verified are below:

I'm writing concerning your recent article, “Suspended Greensburg Salem teacher caught ‘huffing' dies 3 days before termination hearing” (April 25 and TribLIVE). The article was deeply upsetting to anyone who knew Brian Minick, as his mistakes in the last few years should not erase everything good in his life.

Anyone who had this man as a teacher can verify that he was an all-around great guy who loved what he did and cared about his students. He did whatever he could to make his computer class a class to look forward to, from assigning a silly project about the Kecksburg UFO to letting us digitally design our dream vacations.

I realize you are writers, and that in the decline of print media, ratings mean everything. However, I urge you not to fall into the trap of putting your careers ahead of people.

To a newspaper, this man might be mere local media fodder, but to those of us who knew him, this is a story about a human being who went through a tough time and had a tragic ending. No matter your profession, empathy must be present when dealing with such a subject.

Nicolette Miller

South Side

***

I am having difficulty understanding why a newspaper thought it was necessary to write an article about a young man's untimely death in such a way that would only add pain for his family (“Suspended Greensburg Salem teacher caught ‘huffing' dies 3 days before termination hearing,” April 25 and TribLIVE).

Although by law a hearing scheduled by a school district is called a termination hearing, an employee's status is not decided until after testimony at the hearing. For those not familiar with the terminology, the article gave the impression that Brian Minick's termination was a done deal.

The comments from the school district and the manner in which the article was written were extremely insensitive for a grieving father. You only have to experience the death of a child or loved one to understand the tragedy of losing a young life.

But what is more tragic is the insensitivity of our community to understand that addiction is an illness. I will end with a quote from my son's last poem and the mission of the TLC Foundation: “When you falter look up for hope, when you succeed extend your hand to others.” Tim has been gone 30 years, but at a young age, he understood and was sensitive to the needs of others.

Anita Leonard

Hempfield


It's time again for May Marts
FutureFest celebrates and promotes the Pittsburgh's vision of a sustainable, achievable future

By Candy Williams

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 8:55 p.m.


Joylette Portlock, president of Communitopia, a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit dedicated to slowing climate change and creating healthier communities, wants people to embrace the future — and not be afraid of it.

“The problems out there are big and pretty dire,” she says, “but that's not the whole picture. We can be happier, healthier, more productive and fairer if we're thoughtful about solutions.”

Some of those solutions will be the focus of FutureFest, a free, public festival organized by Communitopia that celebrates and promotes the city's vision of a sustainable, achievable future through performances, art, demonstrations, science and hands-on activities for all ages.

The festival, to be held rain or shine April 29 on the front lawn of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens — one of Communitopia's partners in its efforts — is designed to connect people in ways other than fear and guilt, according to Portlock.

“We are working hard to show people that change can be a fun thing rather than a ‘this is what you have to do' thing,” she says. “A big part of what we're trying to do is to engage the community, not just give them a sack of literature that makes them sad.”

FutureFest will give participants opportunities to test-drive an electric bike and check out transportation of tomorrow with an electric vehicle showcase, visit the future through visual art from Creatives 4 Climate, design built spaces with the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh and Phipps and explore options for renewable energy at home.

Families can meet some of Pittsburgh's change-makers and learn about cool science, paint the future with muralist Bernie Wilke and shop for eco-friendly, locally produced artisan goods.

Attack Theatre will offer an interactive, future-themed performance and Bad Custer, Spacefish, Blak Rapp Madusa and other local artists will provide music.

Food will be provided by Phipps Cafe, and Cool Beans and Randita's Cafe food trucks.

Maria Wheeler-Dubas, science education and research outreach coordinator at Phipps, says the Conservatory will have two booths at FutureFest, featuring an activity related to growing food and healthy eating, and providing information on Phipps' SEED (Sustainable Education Every Day) classroom by the Science Education department.

“Phipps hopes families will feel the exciting possibilities to ‘reduce, reuse and recycle' — the three Rs of conservation,” Wheeler-Dubas says, “and to think of sustainability as not a scary concept, but an exciting future.”

Phipps is offering half-price admission to the conservatory and botanical gardens during the hours of the festival, which is free to the public.

The first FutureFest took place in 2015 at Phipps and attracted an estimated 1,500 people, according to Portlock.

“We were pleased with the turnout, considering when we woke up that morning, it was snowing,” she says. “We are working hard to make this appealing to everybody. We all have a stake in our future — our cities, our foods — and we're trying to reflect that in this event.”

Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.


Sprawling nighttime food markets popping up in the U.S.

By Beth J. Harpaz

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 8:57 p.m.


NEW YORK — Clouds of white smoke rise into the black sky from outdoor grills. The night air is scented with the fragrances of dozens of cuisines from around the world. Vendors in tiny stalls stir noodles, toss crepes and fill dumplings as lines of hungry customers stretch into the dark.

That was the scene at the Queens Night Market as it opened for the season in New York City. It's one of a number of sprawling nighttime food markets — inspired by the massive night markets of Asia — that have started popping up around the U.S. There are also regular night markets in Philadelphia and Southern California, and occasional night markets held elsewhere.

Queens, New York

John Wang spent his childhood summers in Taiwan, his parents' native land. “Every single night, I wanted to go to the night market there,” he recalled.

Those memories inspired him to start the Queens Night Market, queensnightmarket.com/. The market kicked off its third season April 22 with 50 food vendors. Some 8,000 people turned out to sample everything from tamales stuffed with fried crickets to Indonesian coconut cakes.

Atlanta

The Atlanta International Night Market, held April 21-23 at Gwinnett Place Mall in Duluth, featured vendors selling food from around the world along with a “vegan village” for non-meat-eaters. Founder David Lee, who was born in Vietnam and owns a chain of restaurants called Saigon Cafe, sees the market as a “platform” for Atlanta's diversity.

“When you have the food, culture, music, you bring everyone together,” he said. He hopes to hold the market four times a year, with the next one scheduled for Nov. 3-5. Details at atlnightmarket.org .

Philadelphia

Night Market Philadelphia began in 2010, and typically attracts 60 to 80 food vendors and 20,000 attendees. The cuisine ranges from empanadas and Jamaican jerk chicken to Khmer satay. “We try to elevate folks' food festival standards and offer more interesting fare than corn dogs and pizza,” said Diana Minkus, spokeswoman for The Food Trust, the local organization behind the markets.

The markets take place in different neighborhoods: May 11 in Northeast Philadelphia's Burholme neighborhood; June 29 in West Philly; Aug. 10 in Roxborough in Northwest Philly and Oct. 5 at the Italian Market. Details at thefoodtrust.org/night-market.

Southern California

Two night markets take place in Southern California. The 626 Night Market in Arcadia, which started in 2012, has 200 vendors, and the OC Night Market in Costa Mesa has 160.

Spokeswoman Holly Nguyen says the markets were inspired by the night markets of Taiwan and the “core” of both markets are “Chinese and Taiwanese vendors.” But they've become more diverse over time, with “pan-Asian vendors” serving Filipino, Vietnamese and Laotian cuisines, and others selling dishes ranging from Mediterranean shawarma to Texas barbecue. About 20 percent of vendors are first-time entrepreneurs. Details at http://www.626nightmarket.com/#event-dates-section .

Beth Harpaz is the Associated Press travel writer.


Fashion FYI

By Tribune-Review

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 8:39 p.m.


See more clearly

Optometrist Dr. Richard Lappen presents his 14th annual Sun-Sational Sun Glass Event & Designer trunk show at 1821 Jefferson St., Greensburg from 4 to 8 p.m. May 4 and 11. This is an opportunity to peruse sunglasses by well-known designer names such as Tiffany & Co., Persol, Prada, Ray-Ban, Burberry, Tory Burch, Dior, Gucci, Juicy Couture, Kate Spade, Boss and Carrera. Receive 40 percent off of sun wear during show days. Enjoy snacks and beverages, as well as a chance to win a prize valued at $300.

Details: 724-837-5350

Trunk shows

• The Four Winds Gallery, 5512 Walnut St., Shadyside is having a Kristen Dorsey Designs trunk show May 5 and 6. Dorsey will be debuting the Hatchet Women Collection as well as giving a demonstration of her ancient jewelry technique. This collection tells the story of how Chickasaw women defended their villages from the French in the 1730s. There will be a cocktail reception from 6 to 8 p.m. May 5 and a personal appearance and sculptural jewelry demonstration from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 6. Details: kristendorseydesigns.com

• Larrimor's, 249 Fifth Ave., Pittsburgh, is having To Boot New York shoes, Good Man Brand clothing and Randolph Engineering eye wear trunk shows from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 4 to 6. Meet David Bond of To Boot New York and Chris Findley of Good Man Brand. Details: 412-471-5727 or larrimors.com

Class time

Glam Earth Natural & Organic Beauty Boutique, 218 E. Main St., Carnegie is having a contour workshop at 1 p.m. April 29. Learn how to define your jawline, fake a slimmer nose or enhance your cheekbones.

Cost is $20. Details: 412-932-5644 or glamearth.biz

Pendant making

Pittsburgh Glass Center, 5472 Penn Ave., Friendship/Garfield area, is having a class on making compression pendants from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 29. In this workshop you will use a torch to melt glass rods and combine colors to make pendants that look like an explosion of color.

Cost is $140. Details: 412-365-2145 or pittsburghglasscenter.org

Get dolled up

La Pomponnee in Mt. Lebanon is celebrating its 25th anniversary from 6 to 10 p.m. May 4 with Get Dolled Up, an evening of fashion and fun at Bella Sera, 414 Morganza Road, Canonsburg. The event, which includes a runway show, benefits Dress for Success Pittsburgh, which empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire, and the development tools to help them thrive in the workplace.

Tickets are $50. Details: 412-563-3990 or lapomponnee.com

Do the Derby

Savoy restaurant, 2623 Penn Ave., Strip District, is having a Do the Derby event from 3 to 7 p.m. May 6. Attendees are invited to wear Kentucky Derby-style hats, seersucker suits and sundresses. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Macedonia F.A.C.E. Family & Community Enrichment Center, a faith-based nonprofit community outreach of Macedonia Church of Pittsburgh with a mission to address disparities that impact the African-American family.

Tickets are $25, $20 in advance. Details: 412-281-0660 or savoypgh.com

Bridal show

The fifth annual Pittsburgh South Asian Bridal Show is from 1 to 6 p.m. April 30 at the Westin Convention Center, 1000 Penn Ave., Pittsburgh. There will be a runway event at 2 p.m. Organized by Divine Celebrations, more than 50 vendors will be available to help plan your big day.

Tickets are $5. Details: pghsabridal.com

— Staff reports

Send fashion news to tribliving@tribweb.com.


Everything's coming up roses
Westmoreland colleges compete in Food Bank Campus Challenge

By Shirley McMarlin

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 11:56 a.m.


A lot of things get thrown out of dorm rooms at the end of spring semester, but what concerned Brian Root was that food was going to waste.

So in 2009, Root, the assistant director of housing and residence life at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, worked with the Westmoreland County Food Bank to establish the annual Campus Challenge food drive that takes place during the last two weeks of the school year on area campuses.

“The first year, we had Pitt-Greensburg, St. Vincent (College) and Seton Hill (University) on board,” Root says. Westmoreland County Community College joined soon after and this year, for the first time, Penn State New Kensington also signed on.

“We want to take advantage of that move-out time,” Root says. “Students who are moving out have nonperishables that they don't have an interest in taking home, but that can still go to good use.”

Residence hall staffs and student organizations coordinate the drives at each school. They get the word out via posters and set up bins in strategic locations around campus.

At St. Vincent, they take it a step further with “Storm the Dorm,” says junior Cheyenne Dunbar, who coordinates the drive through the Alpha Lambda Delta honor society.

Dorm residents are told in advance when honor society members will be knocking on doors in all six residence halls to collect donations.

Dunbar says students often are waiting at their doors with bags of food and other items, such as clothing that will be given to needy families or the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

Proximity to New Kensington and Arnold, which have several of the poorest census areas in Westmoreland County, factored into the Penn State campus joining the drive, says Corinne Coulson, assistant director of enrollment management and adviser to Lion Ambassadors, the campus community service organization in charge of their collection.

“This is a great way to help our county and local area directly,” Coulson says.

“This drive helps over 7,000 households feed their families throughout the next few months. The food is brought into the warehouse and sorted for food safety purposes and then repacked and sent out to our network of over 40 food pantries throughout Westmoreland County,” says Jennifer Miller, director of development for the food bank. “This donated food is added to a planned food box and is an extra added bonus to what they would be receiving.”

Root says that, in 2016, the friendly competition resulted in these food totals: Pitt-Greensburg, 1,180 pounds; Seton Hill, 915 pounds; St. Vincent, 399 pounds; and WCCC, 170 pounds.

“Since we started the Campus Challenge in 2009, Pitt-Greensburg has contributed 8,239 pounds of food to the Westmoreland County Food Bank,” Root says. “It's a simple concept, but we've been blown away by the response.”

“I told our resident directors this year that our main goal obviously is to get food to people who need it, but also to strive to be as successful as Pitt-Greensburg,” says Jenna Konyak, assistant director for residence life at Seton Hill. “The main value of Seton Hill University is service and giving back to the community, so the students have that instilled in them.”

“The students can gain the sense of knowing that because of their donation, no matter how big or how small, that a child will not have to know the anguish of hunger, will not have to know the fear of being food insecure,” Miller says. “Parents will not have to worry about how they are feeding their children, and they will be able to have proper nourishment themselves as well.

“With funding cuts coming at us from all different levels, food drives become an imperative part of what we do, especially this time of year.”

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5750, smcmarlin@tribweb.com or via Twitter @shirley_trib.


Fashion FYI

By Tribune-Review

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 8:39 p.m.


See more clearly

Optometrist Dr. Richard Lappen presents his 14th annual Sun-Sational Sun Glass Event & Designer trunk show at 1821 Jefferson St., Greensburg from 4 to 8 p.m. May 4 and 11. This is an opportunity to peruse sunglasses by well-known designer names such as Tiffany & Co., Persol, Prada, Ray-Ban, Burberry, Tory Burch, Dior, Gucci, Juicy Couture, Kate Spade, Boss and Carrera. Receive 40 percent off of sun wear during show days. Enjoy snacks and beverages, as well as a chance to win a prize valued at $300.

Details: 724-837-5350

Trunk shows

• The Four Winds Gallery, 5512 Walnut St., Shadyside is having a Kristen Dorsey Designs trunk show May 5 and 6. Dorsey will be debuting the Hatchet Women Collection as well as giving a demonstration of her ancient jewelry technique. This collection tells the story of how Chickasaw women defended their villages from the French in the 1730s. There will be a cocktail reception from 6 to 8 p.m. May 5 and a personal appearance and sculptural jewelry demonstration from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 6. Details: kristendorseydesigns.com

• Larrimor's, 249 Fifth Ave., Pittsburgh, is having To Boot New York shoes, Good Man Brand clothing and Randolph Engineering eye wear trunk shows from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 4 to 6. Meet David Bond of To Boot New York and Chris Findley of Good Man Brand. Details: 412-471-5727 or larrimors.com

Class time

Glam Earth Natural & Organic Beauty Boutique, 218 E. Main St., Carnegie is having a contour workshop at 1 p.m. April 29. Learn how to define your jawline, fake a slimmer nose or enhance your cheekbones.

Cost is $20. Details: 412-932-5644 or glamearth.biz

Pendant making

Pittsburgh Glass Center, 5472 Penn Ave., Friendship/Garfield area, is having a class on making compression pendants from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 29. In this workshop you will use a torch to melt glass rods and combine colors to make pendants that look like an explosion of color.

Cost is $140. Details: 412-365-2145 or pittsburghglasscenter.org

Get dolled up

La Pomponnee in Mt. Lebanon is celebrating its 25th anniversary from 6 to 10 p.m. May 4 with Get Dolled Up, an evening of fashion and fun at Bella Sera, 414 Morganza Road, Canonsburg. The event, which includes a runway show, benefits Dress for Success Pittsburgh, which empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire, and the development tools to help them thrive in the workplace.

Tickets are $50. Details: 412-563-3990 or lapomponnee.com

Do the Derby

Savoy restaurant, 2623 Penn Ave., Strip District, is having a Do the Derby event from 3 to 7 p.m. May 6. Attendees are invited to wear Kentucky Derby-style hats, seersucker suits and sundresses. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Macedonia F.A.C.E. Family & Community Enrichment Center, a faith-based nonprofit community outreach of Macedonia Church of Pittsburgh with a mission to address disparities that impact the African-American family.

Tickets are $25, $20 in advance. Details: 412-281-0660 or savoypgh.com

Bridal show

The fifth annual Pittsburgh South Asian Bridal Show is from 1 to 6 p.m. April 30 at the Westin Convention Center, 1000 Penn Ave., Pittsburgh. There will be a runway event at 2 p.m. Organized by Divine Celebrations, more than 50 vendors will be available to help plan your big day.

Tickets are $5. Details: pghsabridal.com

— Staff reports

Send fashion news to tribliving@tribweb.com.


Sprawling nighttime food markets popping up in the U.S.

By Beth J. Harpaz

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 8:57 p.m.


NEW YORK — Clouds of white smoke rise into the black sky from outdoor grills. The night air is scented with the fragrances of dozens of cuisines from around the world. Vendors in tiny stalls stir noodles, toss crepes and fill dumplings as lines of hungry customers stretch into the dark.

That was the scene at the Queens Night Market as it opened for the season in New York City. It's one of a number of sprawling nighttime food markets — inspired by the massive night markets of Asia — that have started popping up around the U.S. There are also regular night markets in Philadelphia and Southern California, and occasional night markets held elsewhere.

Queens, New York

John Wang spent his childhood summers in Taiwan, his parents' native land. “Every single night, I wanted to go to the night market there,” he recalled.

Those memories inspired him to start the Queens Night Market, queensnightmarket.com/. The market kicked off its third season April 22 with 50 food vendors. Some 8,000 people turned out to sample everything from tamales stuffed with fried crickets to Indonesian coconut cakes.

Atlanta

The Atlanta International Night Market, held April 21-23 at Gwinnett Place Mall in Duluth, featured vendors selling food from around the world along with a “vegan village” for non-meat-eaters. Founder David Lee, who was born in Vietnam and owns a chain of restaurants called Saigon Cafe, sees the market as a “platform” for Atlanta's diversity.

“When you have the food, culture, music, you bring everyone together,” he said. He hopes to hold the market four times a year, with the next one scheduled for Nov. 3-5. Details at atlnightmarket.org .

Philadelphia

Night Market Philadelphia began in 2010, and typically attracts 60 to 80 food vendors and 20,000 attendees. The cuisine ranges from empanadas and Jamaican jerk chicken to Khmer satay. “We try to elevate folks' food festival standards and offer more interesting fare than corn dogs and pizza,” said Diana Minkus, spokeswoman for The Food Trust, the local organization behind the markets.

The markets take place in different neighborhoods: May 11 in Northeast Philadelphia's Burholme neighborhood; June 29 in West Philly; Aug. 10 in Roxborough in Northwest Philly and Oct. 5 at the Italian Market. Details at thefoodtrust.org/night-market.

Southern California

Two night markets take place in Southern California. The 626 Night Market in Arcadia, which started in 2012, has 200 vendors, and the OC Night Market in Costa Mesa has 160.

Spokeswoman Holly Nguyen says the markets were inspired by the night markets of Taiwan and the “core” of both markets are “Chinese and Taiwanese vendors.” But they've become more diverse over time, with “pan-Asian vendors” serving Filipino, Vietnamese and Laotian cuisines, and others selling dishes ranging from Mediterranean shawarma to Texas barbecue. About 20 percent of vendors are first-time entrepreneurs. Details at http://www.626nightmarket.com/#event-dates-section .

Beth Harpaz is the Associated Press travel writer.


Cooking On Deadline: Salmon with Polenta, Tomato Vinaigrette
New eateries energize life Downtown

By Tom Fontaine

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017, 6:05 p.m.


The surge in new restaurants Downtown has been a good recipe for drawing more people to the Golden Triangle, according to a report released Thursday.

“Food drives foot traffic,” the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership wrote in its annual State of Downtown report , which looks at a number of key economic factors related to life and business in Western Pennsylvania's most bustling central business district.

The Downtown Partnership said 30 restaurants opened in the Greater Downtown area last year. The organization defines Greater Downtown as the Golden Triangle, North Shore, South Shore, Uptown, the Bluff, the Lower Hill District and the Strip District to 31st Street.

Nine of the restaurants opened on the North Shore, six opened near Mellon Square and five near Market Square.

In a pedestrian traffic study conducted last year, the Downtown Partnership found that foot traffic was up 108 percent in the 900 block of Penn Avenue compared with 2012 and up 30 percent in Market Square in the same span. In the four-year period, eight new restaurants opened in the Penn Avenue corridor and 12 did in or near Market Square.

The increased number of people living Downtown also contributed to the extra foot traffic. The report said that 14,764 people called Greater Downtown home in 2016, up 2.6 percent from the year before and 22 percent from 2010.

Tom Fontaine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7847, tfontaine@tribweb.co or via Twitter at @FontainePGH.


Spice Affair fills a void with delightful Indian food

By Mary Ann Thomas

Published: Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 9:00 p.m.


A Fox Chapel graduate is carrying on his family's traditional Indian cuisine at the Spice Affair in Aspinwall.

The owner, Harprett Pabla, 35, of Indiana Township fills a void where there are large Indian populations in the Fox Chapel School District and Hampton.

His family owns People's Indian Restaurant on Penn Avenue in Pittsburgh's Bloomfield neighborhood.

For Pabla, his venture is distinctive in a sea of gourmet American bistros. Indeed, the Indian restaurant adds much needed diversity to the culinary offerings at the gateway of Pittsburgh's North Hills.

“The other restaurants have more of a competition among each other,” he says. “For us, if people are sick of burgers and pasta, come here.”

In the heart of Aspinwall's business district, Spice Affair's Brilliant Avenue address, previously home to Franco's and Luma, offers one of best positioned porches for outdoor dining, which will no doubt be a summer destination when a mango lassi ($3), a bright and sweet yogurt elixir, will hit the spot.

Spice Affair offers an expansive menu with vegetarian and non-vegetarian entrees.

Of course, a great way to sample the variety of the richly spiced and fragrant cuisine is to dine during the restaurant's daily lunch buffet, running from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

But a leisurely dinner is also a good way to go we recently found. The more than 120 moderately priced menu items allow for extra side dishes.

The vegetable platter ($9) appetizer offered a variety of taste sensations, from the crispy fried samosa stuffed with a savory potato and pea filling to pakoras, fritters made with spiced potatoes or peppers or vegetables. The hearty choice requires you to assess your capacity to make it to the main entree.

The Tandoori breads are varied as well, from onion to garlic to paneer, a homemade cheese stuffing, as well as nut, meat and green chili stuffings.

The Tandoori chicken half ($11) is served with a generous portion of onion and green peppers with that familiar spicy and salty undercurrent bathed in that vibrant crimson color.

The mushroom mattar ($10), with long-grain basmati rice, features green peas and mushrooms cooked in a mild curry sauce. The entree was smooth and nicely balanced with the earthy mushroom flavor not overtaken by the spicy sauce.

The grated coconut sauce of the fish malabari ($14) nicely tamed the chunks of boneless salmon in a flavorful thick sauce, perfect over rice or with naan.

If you are aching for Indian food but can't get out, delivery is available within a 3-mile radius. Spice Affair does not have a bar, but BYOB is welcome.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer.


Air Travel 101: How to avoid paying for a checked bag

By Holly Johnson

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017, 8:57 p.m.


Airfare is expensive enough as it is, but the added fees make things worse.

Some of the discount airlines (think: Spirit, WOW Air and Allegiant) charge for everything from seat selection to printing your boarding pass. Some airlines even charge for carry-on luggage any bigger than a purse or small backpack.

But if there's one thing airlines agree on, it's charging for regular ol' checked baggage.

With few exceptions, you'll always have to pay to check a bag for in-flight storage.

If you're looking for ways to avoid paying for checked bags, you're in luck. Here are five of the best strategies anyone can use:

Use packing cubes

Websites such as Amazon.com and eBags.com sell “packing cubes” that compress your selection of clothes down to carry-on size.

Packing cubes also help you stay organized and keep your suitcase or backpack from “exploding” with clothes each time they're opened.

With packing cubes, you'll sort your clothing by type, then pack your luggage tightly to maximize space. While it might seem weird that cubes could help lighten your load, it really does work: They force your clothing into smaller, compressed rectangles and squares, so you can fit more into your bag.

‘Roll' your clothes

I'm a big fan of “rolling” outfits while avoiding checking bags like the plague. It helps to select full outfits that you roll together. If you're traveling for eight days, for example, you'll select and roll together eight full outfits plus pajamas and underclothes.

By selecting specific outfits for each day and rolling them together, you end up with the exact amount of clothing you need.

Rolling your outfits also helps keep them wrinkle-free and organized.

Plan on doing laundry

If you're heading out for a longer trip and need more than seven to eight outfits to wear, planning for a few loads of laundry can help. We're going on a three-week trip to Europe this summer and, to be honest, I don't even own three weeks of clothing.

Instead of checking bags, we're going to bring one week of clothing and wash it several times. If you don't have a washing machine, you can hand wash your clothes in a sink or bathtub, then hang them to dry on your own portable clothesline.

Get the righttravel credit card

If you fly a specific airline all the time, certain co-branded airline credit cards make it easy to earn miles and score free checked bags.

The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard is a smart example. With this card, you'll get a signup bonus, no foreign transaction fees, preferred boarding on domestic flights and a free checked bag on domestic flights for you and up to four companions on your itinerary.

The Southwest effect

While most airlines charge for checked bags, at least one never does: Southwest Airlines.

Southwest flies to a slew of hubs all over the U.S., plus Caribbean hotspots such as Grand Cayman (starting in June), Montego Bay, Aruba, Nassau and Punta Cana.

No matter where you fly with Southwest Airlines, your first two checked bags fly free.

Holly Johnson is a writer for TravelPulse, a leading travel authority on the web.


Bike trails abound throughout Western Pa.
Spot birds of prey from your bike

By Mary Ann Thomas

Published: Tuesday, April 25, 2017, 9:00 p.m.


Cue the bald eagle.

The Steel Valley Trail Council is sponsoring the Raptor Row Ride on April 29, which is likely Pittsburgh's first-ever bike event spotlighting the nests of the region's birds of prey.

The off-road trail ride features stops at the nests of the Pittsburgh Hays bald eagles, ospreys, red-tailed hawks, American Kestrels, and a rescued live owl from the Animal Rescue League Shelter and Wildlife Center.

The 13.5-mile bike ride traverses the Three Rivers Heritage Trail and the Steel Valley Trail, which are segments of the Great Allegheny Passage. The route will follow the banks of the Monongahela River from Hays to McKeesport.

To help cyclists actually see the raptor nests without lugging around binoculars and scopes, the Three Rivers Birding Club, the National Aviary and local photographers will be stationed at the nest sites with optics and a guide to where the birds are.

Roy Bires, 68, of Swissvale, organized the inaugural ride to give the public a chance to see the raptor nests.

Bires was one of the several observers, including a National Aviary ornithologist and a Tribune-Review reporter, to witness the hatch of the Hays bald eagles' first chick in 2013, the formerly endangered birds' first young in the city in more than 150 years.

Bires has been an avid chronicler of the Hays eagles and other local birds of prey ever since.

Last year, he counted 10 newly hatched young raptors — bald eagle, osprey, great-horned owl and red-tailed hawk — within only a 6-mile section of the trail.

“We thought the ride would be a celebration of the success of those birds,” he says.

However, given that birds operate on their own schedule, there is no guarantee that cyclists will see all of the raptors.

Cyclists also will be given an opportunity to spot the recent handiwork of some beavers who have whittled down some young trees along the Monongahela.

Bires is expecting at least 80 riders who will travel in groups staggered throughout the morning.

The ride to all four of the 2016 nest sites is about 13.5 miles round trip on a mostly level paved surface. There will be an optional extension of the ride to a new kestrel nest site in McKeesport, making for an 18 mile round trip. Or riders can take a 4-mile route to just see the bald eagles

Proceeds benefit the nonprofit Steel Valley Trail Council, which is responsible for maintaining the portion of the Great Allegheny Passage from the end of the Sandcastle Waterpark parking lot through the Waterfront in Homestead, past Kennywood into McKeesport as well the connector to Clairton.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. She can be reached at 724-226-4691, mthomas@tribweb.com or on twitter @MaThomas_Trib


Blood test offers hope for better lung cancer treatment

By The Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 6:30 p.m.


BOSTON — Researchers have taken an important step toward better lung cancer treatment by using blood tests to track genetic changes in tumors as they progress from their very earliest stages.

With experimental tests that detect bits of DNA that tumors shed into the blood, they were able to detect some recurrences of cancer up to a year before imaging scans could, giving a chance to try new therapy sooner.

It's the latest development for tests called liquid biopsies, which analyze cancer using blood rather than tissue samples. Some doctors use these tests now to guide care for patients with advanced cancers, mostly in research settings. The new work is the first time tests like this have been used to monitor the evolution of lung tumors at an early stage, when there's a much better chance of cure.

Only about one third of lung cancer cases in the United States are found at an early stage, and even fewer in other parts of the world. But more may be in the future as a result of screening of longtime smokers at high risk of the disease that started a few years ago in the United States.

Early-stage cases are usually treated with surgery. Many patients get chemotherapy after that, but it helps relatively few of them.

“We have to treat 20 patients to cure one. That's a lot of side effects to cure one patient,” said Dr. Charles Swanton of the Francis Crick Institute in London.

The new studies he led suggest that liquid biopsies might help show who would or would not benefit from chemotherapy, and give an early warning if it's not working so something else can be tried.

Cancer Research UK, a charity based in England, paid for the work, and results were published online Wednesday by Nature and the New England Journal of Medicine .

To be clear: This kind of care is not available yet — the tests used in these studies are experimental and were customized in a lab to analyze the genes in each patient's cancer. But the technology is advancing rapidly.

The company that generated the tests for the study in Nature — California-based Natera Inc. — plans to offer the tests for research by universities and drug companies later this year and hopes to have a version for routine use in cancer care next year.

“This is coming, and it's coming fast,” said Dr. David Gandara, a lung specialist at the University of California, Davis, who had no role in the studies but consults for two companies developing liquid biopsies. A test that could spare many people unnecessary treatment “would be huge,” he said.

In the studies, researchers analyzed tumors from about 100 people with non-small cell lung cancer, the most common form of the disease. Even in these early-stage cases, they found big variations in the number of gene flaws, and were able to trace how the tumors' genes changed over time.

People with many gene or chromosome problems were four to five times more likely to have their cancer return, or to die from their disease within roughly two years.

They also looked at 14 patients whose cancers recurred after surgery, and compared them to 10 others whose did not. Blood tests after surgery accurately identified more than 90 percent of them that were destined to relapse, up to a year before imaging tests showed that had occurred.

The results suggest that using liquid biopsy tests to help select and adjust treatments is “now feasible,” at least from a scientific standpoint, the authors write.

A big issue is cost, though. Liquid biopsies sold now in the country cost nearly $6,000. Tests that more narrowly track a patient's particular tumor gene changes, like the one in these studies, may cost less. They may save money in the long run, by preventing futile treatment, but this has yet to be shown.


How to identify and treat sleep apnea

By Tribune-Review

Published: Monday, April 24, 2017, 11:00 p.m.


The federal panel that recommends whether people should get screened for various diseases recently reviewed sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that researchers have shown increases the rate of death from cardiovascular problems and can bring other negative health effects. The United States Preventive Services Task Force found that there is insufficient evidence to balance the benefits and risks of screening for sleep apnea, while acknowledging the health effects of the disease. Dr. Deepa Burman, medical director of UPMC McKeesport's Portable Sleep Study Program, discusses symptoms and treatment methods for the condition.

Describe obstructive sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea refers to interrupted breathing during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of sleep apnea. It is a serious disorder that causes the throat to close until airways become blocked and breathing gets interrupted or stops for a varying amount of time during sleep. This may decrease oxygen supply to the brain, causing people to wake up multiple times in the middle of the night.

What are some common symptoms and effects?

Common symptoms are breath pauses, frequent snoring and choking or gasping sounds during sleep. Those who suffer from sleep apnea often feel fatigue throughout the day and, in some cases, people will unintentionally fall asleep at undesired times. The lack of sleep causes people to wake up feeling unrefreshed and with morning headaches. Untreated sleep apnea can worsen and in some cases result in medical problems including high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and depression.

How do you know if you have sleep apnea?

In addition to having the symptoms and medical problems mentioned above, a sleep study is used to diagnose sleep apnea. In the past, a sleep study was only able to be conducted with an overnight stay in a sleep laboratory, but some patients had trouble sleeping in a new environment during the inpatient sleep study. Recent technological advances have made it possible for people to take the sleep study tests at home. This new form of testing is more convenient, cost effective and accessible to the public.

To participate in an at-home sleep study, patients simply pick up equipment at the hospital and are taught how to hook it up at home. The next morning, they return the equipment and the board-certified sleep medicine experts read the data to determine if sleep apnea is the cause of the sleep issues. Sleep apnea is a serious but easily treatable disorder, so people experiencing symptoms should contact their primary care provider.


E-cigarette industry gains allies in regulation fight
Hope for preemies as artificial womb helps tiny lambs grow


By The Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, April 25, 2017, 6:45 p.m.


WASHINGTON — Researchers are creating an artificial womb to improve care for extremely premature babies — and remarkable animal testing suggests the first-of-its-kind watery incubation so closely mimics mom that it just might work.

Today, premature infants weighing as little as a pound are hooked to ventilators and other machines inside incubators. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is aiming for a gentler solution, to give the tiniest preemies a few more weeks cocooned in a womb-like environment — treating them more like fetuses than newborns in hopes of giving them a better chance of healthy survival.

The researchers created a fluid-filled transparent container to simulate how fetuses float in amniotic fluid inside mom's uterus, and attached it to a mechanical placenta that keeps blood oxygenated.

In early-stage animal testing, extremely premature lambs grew, apparently normally, inside the system for three to four weeks, the team reported Tuesday.

“We start with a tiny fetus that is pretty inert and spends most of its time sleeping. Over four weeks we see that fetus open its eyes, grow wool, breathe, swim,” said Dr. Emily Partridge, a CHOP research fellow and first author of the study published in Nature Communications.

“It's hard to describe actually how uniquely awe-inspiring it is to see,” she added.

Human testing still is three to five years away, although the team already is in discussions with the Food and Drug Administration.

“We're trying to extend normal gestation,” said Dr. Alan Flake, a fetal surgeon at CHOP who is leading the project and considers it a temporary bridge between the mother's womb and the outside world.

Increasingly hospitals attempt to save the most critically premature infants, those born before 26 weeks gestation and even those right at the limits of viability — 22 to 23 weeks. Extreme prematurity is a leading cause of infant mortality, and those who do survive frequently have serious disabilities such as cerebral palsy.

The idea of treating preemies in fluid-filled incubators may sound strange, but physiologically it makes sense, said Dr. Catherine Spong, a fetal medicine specialist at the National Institutes of Health.

“This is really an innovative, promising first step,” said Spong, who wasn't involved with the research.

One of the biggest risks for very young preemies is that their lungs aren't ready to breathe air, she explained. Before birth, amniotic fluid flows into their lungs, bringing growth factors crucial for proper lung development. When they're born too soon, doctors hook preemies to ventilators to keep them alive but risking lifelong lung damage.

Flake's goal is for the womb-like system to support the very youngest preemies just for a few weeks, until their organs are mature enough to better handle regular hospital care like older preemies who have less risk of death or disability.

The device is simpler than previous attempts at creating an artificial womb, which haven't yet panned out.

How the “Biobag” system works:

— The premature lambs were delivered by C-section and immediately placed into a temperature-controlled bag filled with a substitute for amniotic fluid that they swallow and take into their lungs.

“We make gallons of this stuff a day,” said fetal physiologist Marcus Davey. It's currently an electrolyte solution; he's working to add other factors to make it more like real amniotic fluid.

— Then the researchers attached the umbilical cord to a machine that exchanges carbon dioxide in blood with oxygen, like a placenta normally does.

— The lamb's heart circulates the blood, without the need for any other pump.

The researchers tested five lambs whose biological age was equivalent to 23-week human preemies, and three more a bit older. All appeared to grow normally, with blood pressure and other key health measures stable and few complications during the weeks they were inside the womb-like device.

The study didn't address long-term development. Most of the lambs were euthanized for further study that found normal organ development for their gestational age. One was bottle-weaned and is now more than a year old, apparently healthy and living on a farm in Pennsylvania.

Flake stressed that the womb-like system isn't intended to support preemies any younger than today's limits of viability — not what he calls the more “sensationalistic” idea of artificially growing embryos.

He acknowledged that parents might question the approach, but notes that the preemies always could be whisked into standard care if they fared poorly in the new system. And while he said further adaptation of the device is needed before it can begin human testing, he envisioned parents being able to see the baby and even piping in the sound of mom's heartbeat.


Fanfare: PATF's Moulin Rouge-themed gala honors Dr. Leahy with award
Fanfare: Stepping into Spring Fashion Show and Luncheon

By Tribune-Review

Published: Tuesday, April 25, 2017, 12:15 p.m.


The Stepping into Spring Fashion Show and Luncheon, held by the Duquesne University Women's Guildn was held at the Duquesne University Union Ballroom, Uptown Pittsburgh on Sunday, April 23, 2017.


Fanfare: Pittsburgh Festival Opera's Gala Cubana toasts first new Cuban opera in 50 years

By Kate Benz

Published: Monday, April 24, 2017, 9:33 a.m.


Who knew that the gents would be the ones who upped the fashion ante during the Pittsburgh Festival Opera's Gala Cubana?

“This was another of those things just waiting for the event,” said Michael Kamin of his floral button down and matching kicks, which just happened to be hanging in his closet.

Having had in large part answered the call to dress the part, 150 guests arrived at the Pittsburgh Golf Club in Squirrel Hill on April 22 decked out in a rainbow of vibrant colors. Amongst them was Paul Gitnik, who maintained his tradition of turning heads with a sports coat popping with personality. Not to mention, a bronzed glow courtesy of time spent in Florida.

“That's not a tan… that's blood pressure!” joked Gene Svrcek.

As cocktail hour progressed, the steel drums proved too irresistible for Georgia and Gene Bokor, who carved out their own dance floor while models floated by wearing the vivacious fashions from designer Lana Neumeyer.

But it was the conga line led by dancer Teanna Medina that signaled the real start of the party.

On the list were Pittsburgh Festival Opera founder Mildred Miller Posvar and her daughter, Marina Posvar, party chairwoman Carolyn Smith and her husband, Bud, PFO chairman Dr. Jerry Clack, president Dr. Eugene Myers, Joyce Candi Grove, committee members Evelyn Castillo, Joseph Bielecki, Dr. Margaretha Casselbrant, Carole Kamin, Gail Novak Mosites.

The evening toasted Roberto Valera and Charles Koppelman's “Cubanacan: A Revolution of Forms,” the first new Cuban opera in 50 years. During the event, Pittsburgh Festival Opera artists Christopher Scott, Robert Frankenberry, and Stephanie Ramos performed excerpts from the show.


Fanfare: Foundation Night of Joy Gala

By Tribune-Review

Published: Monday, April 24, 2017, 9:45 a.m.


The fourth annual Foundation Night of Joy Gala welcomed 300 guests, with proceeds benefiting the foundation's efforts to create a model of care for postpartum depression.

The event was held at the Omni William Penn, Downtown on Friday, April 21 2017.


Fanfare: Evening of Birthday Cheer by Beverly's Birthdays
Pittsburgh Earth Day 2017 kicks off with fashion show utilizing recyclable materials

By Kate Benz

Published: Friday, April 21, 2017, 9:15 a.m.


“The models are from the Docherty Agency,” said Ecolution Fashion Show curator Richard Parsakian while backstage at the Fairmont. “Seventeen females. Two males… they're the eye candy.”

Both baring it all but for the body paint that took over an hour to apply, it was surely the artistic homage to earth and planet that had tongues wagging.

“Preserving the wonders of the universe,” Parsakian mused.

With an extra row of seating brought in to accommodate the overflow for the kickoff to the weekend-long, Pittsburgh Earth Day 2017 celebration that began April 20, it was up to area designers to deliver on the eco-friendly couture they were given less than two months to create.

Tasked with utilizing sustainable, recyclable, and organic materials like soda can tabs, window screening, blue prints, copper wire, cassette tape, floppy discs, and coffee bags, the models were further transformed by the creative prowess of 14 hair and makeup artists from Izzazu Salon.

“There's always a game time decision to throw glitter on everything,” said stage producer Brittany Spinelli.

Anticipation running high, baited breath remained just that while a lengthy string of video clips served to convey the message that art is political and fashion is political. While a few seats emptied in attempt to seize the opportunity to freshen their drinks, by the time the show began, all eyes were glued.

Spied: Emcees Brian Siewiorek of WYEP and Michele Michaels of WDVE, Dr. Larry Leahy, Ned Bartley, Ronda Zegarelli, Lynne Figgins, Rebecca Whitlinger, Emilio Cornacchione, Rich and Cindy Engler, Gina Pferdehirt, Lucas and Renee Piatt (guests were able to peruse jewelry pieces from her namesake collection during cocktail hour), Deb Docherty, Patricia Rodella, Ernest Baugh. Designers Karen Page and Thomas Higgs, Faith-n-Khaos, Bradford Mumpower, Terry Boyd, Michael Anthony, David Pohl, Carol Luckner, Brandon Darreff, Lessa Kassler, Beth Shari, Keith Kelly, Lana Neumeyer, RubyDawn Designs, Katy DeMent, Kat Belskey, Alana Yoffee, Becki Liu, and Domitille Angoulvant. Judges included Tereneh Mosley, Mary Lou Arscott, Natalie Bencivenga.

DJ Soy Sos provided the soundtrack.


Fanfare: City Theatre welcomes full house for opening night of 'Wild With Happy'

By Kate Benz

Published: Monday, April 17, 2017, 8:03 a.m.


It was promised that there would be dancing in the seats—of which only one remained ahead of opening night for City Theatre's latest comedy, “Wild With Happy,” on April 14.

Which probably wouldn't have sounded too strange… had the show not been inspired by conversations about death. But flipping convention on its head was kind of the point.

“We like to say the play is overflowing with love and laughter,” said director Reginald Douglas. “In this world, we need 90 minutes of fun.”

It's exactly what the full house got for the Pittsburgh debut of the Off-Broadway hit by Colman Domingo. For those 90 minutes, there was no stopping the release of audible delight as actors Monteze Freeland, Corey Jones, Jason Shavers and C. Kelly Wright pulled the room in for an unapologetic poke at the grieving process.

“It's a hot item,” said artistic director Tracy Brigden. “It's everything a play should be. It's hilarious. It's moving. It's up to the minute. It's fierce.”

And while it seemed a fat chance that the idea of carting mother's ashes to Disney World could strike a chord, it wasn't too farfetched for some.

“I did take my great aunt's ashes to prom by mistake,” said managing director James McNeel. “Not as a date, to clarify. They were in the trunk of her sister's car that I borrowed.”

Spied: Tacy Byham, Reshma Paranjpe, Ken and Pam McCrory, Denise Johnson and Norman Brown, Matt Galando, Joe and Laura Palmieri, general manager Natalie Hatcher, stage manager Joanna Obuzor, Theresa and John Ford, Dr. Valerie and Ron Lawrence.


Y108 FM holds Wine & Boots Bash to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

By Kate Benz

Published: Friday, April 14, 2017, 11:39 a.m.


What brought a fringed cowboy boot-wearing gal out for the Y108 Wine & Boots bash?

The promise of a glass half full evening?

Country music darling Michael Ray?

“St. Jude,” said Kelsey Spec. “I mean, we love Michael Ray, too, but I love anything for the kids.”

A pioneering facility that treats close to 8,000 patients that never receive a bill for treatment, travel, or food thanks to funding that relies primarily on a stream of public donations, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital served as the primary beneficiary for the April 13 event at the Twentieth Century Club, one that even the headliner didn't mind taking a backseat to.

“When you see everything they're doing, it changes you,” said the 28-year old Ray, who has been sitting pretty on the country albums charts following his 2015 debut on the Warner Music Nashville label. “It holds a special place in our hearts.”

With a pit stop in Pittsburgh that came on the heels of a manic schedule that recently took him halfway around the globe to Australia, the tour bus was kept running while The Andy Davis Band and the Stickers—both with southwestern Pennsylvania roots—warmed up the stage for an anticipated crowd of 350.

On the list were Barbara and Gary Bowser, Sr., Lisa and Gary Bowser, Jr., Michael Young, Mark Anderson, Caitlin O'Brien-Rice, Ryan Reczek, Rachel Abendroth, Brianna Farringer and Ryan Barancho, Amanda Monheim, Jessica Romanin, Tiffany Thomas, Denae Barnett and Justin Kopcak, Ryan Reczek and Rachel Abendroth, Zach Hoffman, Ben Hoffman, Brianne Schultz, Nicole Hoffman.

Y108 has been partnering with St. Jude's for more than two decades with events that include its annual Country Cares for St. Jude Kids Radio Broadcast which to date has raised more than $3.4 million.


Fanfare: Carnegie Library welcomes sold-out crowd for After Hours soiree
Fanfare: Bach & Brews at East End Brewing

By Tribune-Review

Published: Monday, April 10, 2017, 9:39 a.m.


The Bach Choir lets their hair down with a new spring fundraiser at East End Brewing in Homewood on Sunday, April 9, 2017.


Fanfare: Susan G. Komen Pittsburgh celebrates 25 years

By Tribune-Review

Published: Sunday, April 9, 2017, 11:15 a.m.


A cocktail reception celebrated the 25th anniversary of Susan G. Komen Pittsburgh bringing the Race for the Cure to Pittsburgh. The event was held at the Fairmont Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh on April 6, 2017.


Berg,  Antonie
Boylstein,  Theodora G.
Theodora G. "Teddy" (Wieman) Boylstein, 88, of Riverview, went to be with the Lord Thursday, April 27, 2017, in her daughter's residence. Born April...
Fetter,  John E.
John E. Fetter Jr., 66, of Greensburg, died Friday, April 28, 2017, in Hempfield Manor. He was born Dec. 20, 1950, in Greensburg, a son of the late...
Harvanek,  Mark
Mark Harvanek, 60, of Oakmont, passed away Wednesday, April 26, 2017, at his residence. Born Aug. 7, 1956, in Pittsburgh, he is the son of William...
Humberger,  Scott A.
Kingan,  Raymond A.
Raymond "Ray" Arthur Kingan, beloved husband, father and friend, passed away at 11 a.m. Wednesday, April 26, 2017, at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital,...
Klingensmith,  Robert G.
Robert G. Klingensmith, of Oakmont, passed peacefully Wednesday, April 26, 2017. Born Oct. 6, 1925, to the late Charles and Ida Klingensmith, he was...
Kobik,  Marietta F.
Marietta F. "Mary" Kobik, 92, of New Kensington, died Wednesday, April 26, 2017, at Belair Health and Rehabilitation Center, Lower Burrell. She was...
Marsili,  Vincent J.
McAfee,  Betty L.
Betty Lillian Bauer McAfee, 92, passed away peacefully Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017, at the Walnut Creek Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Dayton, Ohio....
McCreery,  Dale R.
Dale R. McCreery, 72, of Latrobe, passed away Thursday, April 27, 2017, at his home. He was born Feb. 2, 1945, in Peanut, Derry Township, a son of...
Meixelsberger,  Theodore R.
Theodore "Ted" Reed Meixelsberger, 88, of Lower Burrell, died Thursday, April 27, 2017, at Good Samaritan Hospice, Cabot, surrounded by his loving...
Pershing,  Betty C.
Sherry,  Robert J.
Robert J. Sherry, 59, of Dallas, Texas, passed away Thursday, April 6, 2017. He was born Dec. 22, 1957, in East Liverpool, Ohio, a son of Lillian...
Stoves Sr.,  Roy W.
Roy William Stoves Sr., 77, of Irwin, passed away Thursday, April 27, 2017, in Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh. Roy was born Sept. 5, 1939,...
Surrec,  Veronica J.
Veronica J. Surrec, 94, of Jeannette, passed away Friday, April 28, 2017, in the Greensburg Care Center. She was born March 24, 1923, in Jeannette, a...
Tatarzyn,  Loretta
Zackel,  Jerry

Jerry Zackel, 71, of Penn Township, died Wednesday, April 26, 2017. He was born Oct. 22, 1945, in Claridge, to the late John and Esther (Deola)...