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Original and in-depth coverage about topics important to Pennsylvania

1.5 million at risk in PA for crude oil derailment

In Pennsylvania, nearly 1.5 million people are in potential danger if a train carrying crude oil derails and catches fire, according to a PublicSource analysis.

That is about one in every nine Pennsylvanians.

Bringing in more money, even after the campaign for PA governor is over

When the campaign for governor ends, the contributions and expenses don’t. As strange as it might sound, candidates can receive money after the election and a few people actually continue to give until Dec. 31.

Newly elected Gov. Tom Wolf raised $284,019 in contributions from 131 people and committees after the election. Former Gov. Tom Corbett received 96 contributions for $39,196 after he lost.

Uncommon compassion: Dying offenders seldom released in federal prison system

HARRISBURG – Linda Share fought for years to get her father home before he died.

Benjamin Share had been away for eight years. His kidneys were failing. He had congestive heart failure. His foot, an unnatural burgundy color, was swollen, and he had weeping sores that wouldn’t heal.

Marcellus Life

Marcellus Life: A Native American protest to stop a PA pipeline

Chief Carlos Whitewolf beat a small hand drum and sang a Native American prayer for Mother Earth in the cold January air in Hershey, Pa.

Many of the 50 or so other protesters outside the Hershey Lodge, where national Republican leaders attended a retreat, demonstrated against issues like the Keystone XL pipeline and climate change.

A flood of overtime for nurses at county nursing homes

Charged with considering a resident’s entire medical history during care, one registered nurse worked the equivalent of about 90 eight-hour overtime shifts in both 2012 and 2013.

That's just a slice of about 125,000 hours of overtime worked by the nursing staff of the four Kane nursing homes in each of those two years, according to county salary data analyzed by PublicSource.

Pittsburgh ‘dark money’ group could face IRS fine

Union-backed Pennsylvanians for Accountability failed to file mandatory tax return

Union-backed Pennsylvanians for Accountability, which spent more than $1 million on political advertisements targeting Republican Gov. Tom Corbett and a handful of state lawmakers, failed to file a mandatory tax return, the Center for Public Integrity has learned.

Heroin: Riding the Rush

Agency battling drug crisis has big job, little state money

Update 1/19/2015: Gov.-elect Tom Wolf said that Secretary Gary Tennis will continue to lead the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs.

If officials are tuned in to the statewide heroin crisis that has killed thousands of Pennsylvanians, they apparently think it’s a cheap fix.

After six years of inaction, in 2010 the Pennsylvania General Assembly created the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, formerly a modest bureau tucked into the Department of Health.

Then they piled on a huge workload and gave it little money.

Avoid the guessing game in search for nursing home

Federal website will no longer use self-reported data

The responsibility of finding the right long-term care facility for his mother, whose memory is clouded by dementia, gnawed at Ron Clark.

Though he sometimes asks 88-year-old May Clark if she remembers him, she seems to know when her son needs consoling. She grips his thick palm, weathered from years as a power plant mechanic, and the familiar touch evokes a smile of relief.

Marcellus Life

Marcellus Life: A small town in Elk County struggles with rules for shale gas drilling

About a dozen St. Marys officials, outfitted with baggy blue jumpsuits, earplugs and white plastic hard hats, recently visited a Seneca Resources well pad on a wooded hilltop to see what fracking is all about.

This part of Pennsylvania, about 120 miles northeast of Pittsburgh in Elk County, has been relatively untouched by shale drilling. But people see it coming in two test wells Seneca has there now, with more wells in the future.

Race and justice

The deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police has led to protests across the country, including in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, and sparked a national conversation about the use of force by police. 

Heroin: Riding the Rush

Holly: One face of the national heroin crisis

Heroin is cheap, plentiful and extremely addictive, and it does not discriminate based on race, place or social standing. It’s in urban Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. It’s in the suburbs. And it’s in places like Kittanning, a small river town in Western Pennsylvania where drugs used to be sold behind closed doors, and now they’re on the street corner.

PA creates office to protect seniors

Guardianships to receive more oversight

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania will create a state Office of Elder Justice to protect seniors from abuse and financial exploitation, primarily through proposed reforms to court-appointed guardianships.

The new office was recommended by a 38-member Elder Law Task Force, which released its report today after 18 months of research.

A silent community speaks out about communications technology

This story has been updated Her voice and hands sapped by ALS, Mount Lebanon resident Mara Sweterlitsch uses a speech-generating device to write and print out questions for her next doctor’s appointment.

Jennifer Lowe, a 46-year-old Brighton Heights woman with cerebral palsy, handles email and phone calls through her communication device to work as an education consultant for students with disabilities.

Down the line

More than 1,000 miles of natural gas pipelines planned

There’s not enough pipeline infrastructure in our region to move all the natural gas coming from fracking in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays to other markets.That’s changing. Big pipeline projects (some with hefty price tags) are in the works to move the gas and natural gas liquids. Some of them won’t be ready for years. Regulatory approval for these interstate projects can be slow. And some of the pipelines face intense opposition along their routes.

Price of the Prize

Wolf holds on to lead despite Corbett’s final push

The final two weeks of the Pennsylvania governor’s race have had all the appearances of a high-profile, competitive contest.

The polls thus far would suggest otherwise.

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