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Original and in-depth coverage about topics important to Pennsylvania

Lawmakers to examine problem of missing fingerprints

Pennsylvania police are failing to fingerprint thousands of suspects every year, jeopardizing background check systems at the state and federal levels. Lawmakers are uncertain what they can or should do about it.

What you should know about crude oil on trains coming through PA

More trains carrying crude oil to East Coast refineries mean a greater risk of accidents. Derailments in Pennsylvania and throughout the country are a signal to some that an accident could be disastrous.

EQT offers some Washington County residents cash so they won't sue

$50,000 for release from health, property damage

For the last eight years, Pennsylvania has been riding the natural gas boom, with companies drilling and fracking thousands of wells across the state. And in a little corner of Washington County, some 20 miles outside of Pittsburgh, EQT Corporation has been busy 2013 drilling close to a dozen new wells on one site.

Pennsylvania police fail to fingerprint thousands of suspected criminals

Missing prints for sex crimes mean inaccurate background checks

In 2013, 30,000 suspected criminals whose offenses included sex crimes, assaults and murder were not fingerprinted by Pennsylvania police, according to state records.

State law requires that suspected offenders be fingerprinted within 48 hours of arrest.

So, if thousands of people aren’t getting fingerprinted, whose fault is it?

PA scores poorly on AARP’s list for elderly, disabled care

Pennsylvania, which has a larger percentage of people over 65 than the national average, is not the best state to grow old in, according to a recent AARP report.

The state was ranked 42nd overall in the new study on long-term services and supports for older people. Even worse, it was 46th in terms of affordability and access to long-term care.

What Pittsburghers need to know about the Act 47 plan

Act 47 is a state oversight program for “financially distressed” cities in Pennsylvania. The state tries to help cities turn around their finances and operations. The name comes from the Municipalities Financial Recovery Act (Act 47 of 1987).

Could drones make the energy business safer?

Small, high-tech drones are being used to make movies, shoot photos for the media and find sick or diseased crops in farm fields across the country — even though the government restricts commercial use.

Now, some are saying that drones could make operations safer in an industry Pennsylvania knows well: Energy.

Under the Keystone

Portrait of an ironworker

Standing nearly 30 stories above downtown Pittsburgh, Al Williams — a third-generation ironworker with 36 years of experience — is in his element.

The 54-year-old has logged roughly 70,000 hours working on countless structures around Pittsburgh. That's included  PPG Place, Consol Energy Center and the Liberty Bridge. Now he's working on the newest addition to Pittsburgh’s skyline, the Tower at PNC Plaza.

Federal regulations for ammonium nitrate found lacking

The federal government said it has no way of knowing the locations of all facilities in the U.S. that store ammonium nitrate, the chemical that blew up a West, Texas, plant last year, killing 15 people.

Without improved monitoring of facilities that store ammonium nitrate and coordination between U.S. agencies, federal regulators “will not know the extent to which dangerous conditions at some facilities may continue to exist,” the Government Accountability Office report states.

Under the Keystone

A passion for the game

Robert “Hutch” Hutchinson doesn’t yell or bark like a football coach.

Bulky defenders suited out in black and gold crouch on three points while he sputters a snap count, trying to get them to jump offside.

Inspection records for PA amusement parks now online

Before someone gets strapped into the Storm Runner at Hershey Park or feels their stomach drop on Kennywood’s Phantom's Revenge this Memorial Day weekend, they’ll be able to go online to check when the rides were last inspected.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has launched a website that allows any amusement park goer to see whether a ride has recently been inspected.

A day in the life of a water bank

For two years, a Presbyterian Church near hard-to-pronounce Connoquenessing Township, Pa., has been a bank — a water bank to be precise.

The church distributes water to 34 families whose wells went bad around the time hydraulic fracturing started in the region. The coincidence can’t be proven, but residents of the Woodlands, a poor rural community in the township, said they can tell by taste, smell, color and skin reaction that their water hasn’t been right.

With no health registry, PA doesn’t know the impact of fracking on health

Other studies are underfunded

After more than five years and about 6,000 wells drilled in the Marcellus Shale boom, public-health experts say the need to collect information near fracking operations in Pennsylvania is urgent.

How will anyone in the state know the possible health impacts of hydraulic fracturing unless information is collected?

Bluegrass Pipeline project comes to a halt

Pipeline would have started in PA; was controversial in KY

Developers of a multi-state pipeline project, which has stirred controversy over the past year in Kentucky, announced Monday they have suspended all investment in the project indefinitely.

Under the Keystone

Horsing Around: Tyler Stillings

Tyler Stillings of Washington, Pa., is the latest in our series of profiles about interesting characters around the state. Stillings, a graduate of Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, never wanted to do anything but work with horses, as his mother and grandfather did. He trains and drives about 20 horses at his own stables and at the Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Washington County, Pa.

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