Print

Top 10 public records websites for Pittsburghers to know

Written by Mila Sanina on .

Is your daughter’s boyfriend a felon? Has that house you’ve been thinking of buying been reassessed? Are your parents paying property taxes? Is your neighbor a sex offender?

open

 

You can easily find answers to these questions online and PG reporter Rich Lord knows where and how. This week he held a workshop on researching public records as part of Post-Gazette University (PGU), an ongoing speakers' series that connects the PG's experts with the public on topics such as social media, gardening and others.

 

Rich's public records session  has been by far the most popular among civic-minded folks; more than 80 people attended the workshop on Wednesday. This year, Rich had a guest speaker, Terri Mutchler, Pennsylvania’s top open records officer, who shared her insights on the state’s right-to-know law.

 

photo 14

 

Rich is our expert on how to access and make use of public records online, including criminal background checks, real estate transactions, marital records and more. For the Post-Gazette, Rich covers federal court, correctional facilities, public housing and other important issues. He has been part of the Post-Gazette team that led the investigation of the Pittsburgh police department, which led to former Chief Nate Harper’s indictment.

 

Each attendee of Rich’s workshop received a handout with a list of 30 public records websites.

 

Here's a sampling of the sites Rich recommends:

 

1. “I want to know the reassessment history of the property I’d like to buy.”

 

Use Allegheny County assessment multi-list: http://www2.county.allegheny.pa.us/RealEstate/Default.aspx


2. “Is that Pittsburgh guy you met at a bar last month single for real?”

 

Use Allegheny County marriage records: https://dcr.alleghenycounty.us/Marriage/Search/MarriageLicenseSearch.aspx?Welcome=true


3. Federal PACER, (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) allows you to conduct nationwide searches to determine whether or not a party is involved in federal litigation: http://www.pacer.gov/


4. “Are any of my neighbors sex offenders?”

 

Use State Megan's Law: http://www.pameganslaw.state.pa.us/


5. “I’d like to send a letter to Jane Orie (in jail)”

 

Use state inmate locator: http://inmatelocator.cor.state.pa.us/inmatelocatorweb/


6. “I’d like to see Mayor-elect Bill Peduto’s finance report”

 

Use Allegheny County campaign finance lookup: http://documents.alleghenycounty.us/elections/DatasourceTemplate.aspx


7. “I want to know who is leading that non-profit?”

 

Use Guidestar: http://www.guidestar.org/


8: “I’d like to know ethnic composition of my neighborhood”

 

Use SNAP: http://www.pittsburghpa.gov/dcp/snap/


9. “I want to know more about lobbying efforts and campaign contributions in Pa.”

 

Use OpenSecrets: http://www.opensecrets.org/

 

10. “I’d like to track that Delta flight”

 

Use Flight Aware: http://flightaware.com/

If you'd like to learn more about researching public records online, be on the lookout for a new series of PGU workshops next year.

 

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

Happy trails: two Montour expansion projects funded

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

Two expansion projects on the Montour Trail have been funded with a state grant.

One will extend the trail into the Coraopolis business district, which should be a win for merchants and trail users. The other will connect the Library Viaduct over Route 88 with Pleasant Street in South Park Township.

Excerpts from the announcement by state Sen. Matt Smith, D-Mt. Lebanon:

The Montour Trail Council was awarded $313,300 to construct approximately 0.8 miles of trail, which will complete the mainline of the Montour Trail from Moon Township into downtown Coraopolis Borough. The completed Montour Junction trial segment will wind directly through a major Allegheny County recreation project, currently in development, and will ultimately provide a connection point for future trails extending along the Ohio River to the state line.

“Bringing the Montour Trail into a town full of services is of great benefit to trail users and to the businesses that they will visit,” said Ned Williams, Montour Trail Council representative. “Tying into a new Allegheny County park and to other future trail systems makes this project even more valuable to the public. We are most grateful to our partners for their strong support.”
 
South Park Township was awarded $243,000 to construct approximately 900 feet of the Montour Trail, which would connect the east end of the Library Viaduct to residential Pleasant Street. The Viaduct is scheduled to be rehabilitated for trail use this coming year.
 
“Completion of the Pleasant Street project will provide an important amenity for the neighborhood as well as a key intermodal connection to the Port Authority’s Library Station park-and-ride lot in South Park,” Smith said.
 
Williams added, “Over thirty five miles of the mainline of the Montour Trail is nearly finished, up to the Library Viaduct. This Pleasant Street section sets the stage for continuing the trail further east to connect with completed Montour sections, and to link with the Great Allegheny Passage trail to Washington, D.C. South Park Township is a great partner in trail development.”

==========

More than 9,700 volunteers from 35 counties across Pennsylvania canvassed their communities to remove 459,076 pounds of trash and debris from Pennsylvania’s waterways and coastal regions during the 2013 International Coastal Cleanup event.
 
From September through October, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful worked together with local groups and organizations to coordinate 385 events throughout the state. Volunteers in Pennsylvania documented the trash that was picked up and the “top five” types of trash found during the 2013 cleanup included: 17,344 cigarette butts; 4,062 food wrappers; 3,259    plastic beverage bottles; 3,011 plastic pieces; 2,018 plastic bottle caps. Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Allegheny CleanWays and the University of Pittsburgh led the state with 4,011 volunteers.

The good news, of course, is the volunteerism and improvement of our environment. The bad news is we’re pigs.
==========

5188

PennDOT will host an open house to present plans and construction schedules for the $19 million Route 51-Route 88 intersection project, which has already begun. The meeting will be from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday at St. Norbert Church meeting hall.

==========

subway

This is more of a minor nuisance than anything for Pittsburghers, but a federal tax break for transit riders is due to shrink starting Jan. 1 unless Congress acts. Currently, transit riders can pay for up to $245 per month in fares with pre-tax dollars and those who drive to work can do the same for their parking fees. Come Jan. 1, the parking allowance will increase to $250 per month, but if nothing is done, the transit benefit will go back to $130. That won't impact most Port Authority patrons in Zone 1 but will nick those who buy Zone 2 monthly passes for $146.25, as the reduced ceiling wouldn't cover all of their expense. Of course it's dumb to increase the incentive to drive vs. riding transit, but that's our Congress.

Here's a letter from several Pennsylvania congress members to the House leadership calling for a solution.

==========
menatworkRoute 88 will have lane restrictions until 3 p.m. today and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, weather permitting, near the Route 51 intersection during pavement work.

The Wabash Tunnel will be closed from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily next Monday through Friday for replacement of ventilation fans.

UPDATE -- The Washington Boulevard closure scheduled for Saturday in Larimer has been postponed.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

@pgtraffic on Twitter

Like us at Pittsburgh On the Go on Facebook

 

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

Greenfield parade tonight

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

 

parade
Greenfield’s 21st annual community holiday parade is tonight, and if all goes well, snow, sleet and ice won’t be a factor. After all, Greenfield folks are pretty intrepid from living on ski runs that pass for streets.
 
The line-up is at 6p and begins moving down Greenfield Avenue at 7p. Murray and Hazelwood Avenue will be closed for the staging and Greenfield Avenue, from Loretta to Lydia, will close when the parade begins. The parade follows Murray Avenue to Hazelwood Avenue to Greenfield Avenue.
 
Mayor-elect Bill Peduto, county executive Rich Fitzgerald and city Councilman Corey O’Connor will be walking the route. The councilman’s late father, former Mayor Bob O’Connor, helped organize and initiate the first parade. It is being presented by the Greenfield Community Association’s events committee.
 
Four local schools will send marching bands into the fray, with floats, community groups and local legislators. Michael Bartley of WQED will be the emcee at the terminus at St. Rosalia Church. 
 
The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank will be collecting donations for the holidays.
 
Zambelli fireworks, paid for and/or sanctioned by Councilman O’Connor, state Rep. Dan Frankel and state Sen. Jay Costa, will be bursting in air from Magee Park.
 
Marino Chiropractic and Szmidt’s Old World Deli will provide refreshments. A party and open house after the parade will be held at Greenfield Presbyterian Church at Coleman and Alger. 
 
For more information, contact Mitch Margaria of the Greenfield Community Association — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 412-953-6990.
 
Photo by Mitch Margaria

 

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

Bloomfield's lights: They're baaack!

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

 

 
decorations
Bloomfield’s Christmas decorations are up for the first time in two years, thanks to funds from about 20 merchants and the sponsorship of the Allegheny Health Network.
 
Bloomfield Development Corp. is adding another reason to visit the neighborhood. Its Luminare Celebration features a "holiday shop walk" on Saturday the 14th, a belated Small Business Saturday for visitors to Liberty Avenue. The BDC will hand out cookies and water on the streets and many shops will offer discounts throughout the day, from noon to 5 p.m.
 
Santa Claus will be at Tessaro’s restaurant — on the corner of Liberty and Taylor Street — because Santa’s jolly old soul craves one of the city’s best hamburgers.  Frank D’Amico will guest bar tend at Poppy’s Bistro and Pub, the restaurant that succeeded D’Amicos Place at 4744 Liberty.
 
Many storefronts are decorated for company. And when the sun goes down, the Christmas lights will come on in Pittsburgh's Little Italy again.

 

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

Are TV winter weather forecasts a snow job?

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

A meteorologist once told me that forecasting weather, especially winter storms, beyond the next 48 hours is largely guesswork.

Last week bore that out, when forecasters couldn’t get it right even after the snow began.

Weather forecasters rely on a variety of sophisticated computer models to predict what will happen. Unfortunately, Mother Nature is no model.

That hasn’t stopped all three TV chief meteorologists from peering across the vastness of winter and telling us exactly how much it will snow each month until the end of the season. These much-hyped Winter Weather Forecasts are likely forgotten by most viewers shortly after they air.

But people, we should never forget.

This is the first of what I hope will be periodic reviews of the accuracy of those forecasts.

We’re not off to a good start.

Jeff Verszyla of KDKA told us November would bring 2.2 inches of snow with near-normal temperatures, while WTAE’s Mike Harvey forecast 2.0 inches and temperatures a half-degree below normal.

The fizzle of last week’s storm spared both a blizzard of embarrassment: the actual monthly snow total was 9.3 inches and temperatures were a full 3.5 degrees below normal.

WPXI’s Stephen Cropper didn’t issue his Winter Weather Forecast until Nov. 25. After revealing the monthly snowfall totals we’ll be getting through March, Mr. Cropper transitioned to the shorter-term forecast of the pending storm, with repeated cautions that it was unpredictable and snowfall totals could fluctuate. Yes, he told us precisely how much snow we would get in December, January, February and March, then basically admitted he couldn’t be sure how much it would snow the next day.

Peering into their crystal balls, or maybe they were snow globes, the three produced widely divergent forecasts for December and for the winter season as a whole.

Mr. Verszyla says it will snow 4.4 inches this month with temperatures 5 degrees warmer than normal; Mr. Harvey says we’ll get 8 inches with temperatures a degree below normal; Mr. Cropper says 10 inches with “quick shots of cold air” (a bold call for December) but no specific temperature prediction.

For the season, Mr. Verszyla expects 32 inches, which is well below the seasonal average of about 42 inches. Mr. Harvey says we’ll get 48 inches. Mr. Cropper’s video report began with his assertion that 41.5 inches would fall from December through March; but he went on to give a month-by-month breakdown that added to 42 inches even.

==========

menatworkMobile signs advertise Route 28 road work “to begin 12-5” but PennDOT’s Steve Cowan said that’s when a contractor will begin mobilizing equipment for the next (and final) phase of the megaproject. The around-the-clock outbound lane closure will start again soon; no date has been finalized, he said.

Alternating one-way traffic will be in effect on Route 30 between Santiago and North Star roads in North Fayette from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays through next Tuesday.

Brief lane closures will occur in the Fort Pitt Tunnels from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. today while crews put up signs.

Washington Boulevard will be closed all day Saturday from Negley Run Road to Frankstown Avenue during removal of loose concrete from the Larimer Avenue Bridge above. The work might extend into Sunday, according to Pittsburgh public works.

A huge improvement project at the intersection of Broughton, Brownsville and Curry Hollow roads in the South Hills has been completed, Allegheny County and PennDOT announced this afternoon. While the announcement claimed the project was finished ahead of schedule, our story at the start of the 2 1/2-year project said completion was projected for spring 2013, so we're assuming they finished ahead of a revised schedule.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

@pgtraffic on Twitter

Like us at Pittsburgh On the Go on Facebook

 

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.